The Ancient Library

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On this page: Theocritus – Theodectes – Theodorus – Theognis – Theon



gift of prophecy, he here made known to Penelope the presence of Odysseus in the island, and warned the suitors of their fate.

Theocritus. The founder and principal representative of Greek bucolic poetry, born about 325 b.c. in Syracuse, or (ac­cording to another account) in the island of Cos, pupil of the poet Phlletas and friend of the poet Aratus. He lived alternately in Alexandria, at the court of Ptolemy II (Phlladdphus), and in Sicily with Hlero, where he was much esteemed for his poetical skill and refinement. He died about 267. Besides a number of epigrams, thirty-two poems, some of con­siderable length, known as idylls, have come down to us. Some of these are probably spurious. Those that are undoubtedly genuine are of great poetical merit. They include the true bucolic idylls, descriptive of the life of shepherds and herdsmen, and also the genre pictures of every-day life and of the mythical age, together with hymns and eulogistic poems to his princely patrons, an IpUhcllamium in honour of Helen, and some pieces in lyrical form. His poems of ordinary life are especially remarkable for their minutely faithful and dramatic de­scriptions. Most of his idylls are written in a largely modified epic language, with a skilful admixture of the forms of the Doric dialect spoken in Sicily, which still farther enhanced their popular character. Two of the lyrical poems [xxviii, xxix] are composed in the jEolic dialect.

Theddectes. Of PhaselIs,inLycia,aGreek rhetorician and tragic poet. He carried off the prize eight times, and in 351 b.c. his tragedy of Mausolus was victorious in the tragic contest instituted by queen Artfimlsla in honour of her deceased hus­band Mausolus. In the rhetorical contest, held at the same time, he was defeated by Theopompus. Only unimportant fragments of his fifty tragedies are extant.

Theodoras. (1) Of Sam6s, son of Ehoacus. In conjunction with his father, he erected the labyrinth of Lemnos [Pliny, N. H. xxxvi 90], and advised the laying down of a layer of charcoal as part of the foundation of the temple of Artemis, at Ephesus [Diogenes Laertius ii 103). He is said to have lived for a long time in Egypt, where he and his brother Telecles learnt the Egyptian canon of proportion for the human figure [Diodorus, i 98]. He was considered by the Greeks as one of the inventors of casting in bronze [Pausanias, viii 14 § 8]. He wrote

a work on the temple of Hera at Samoa, which was begun by his father [Herodotus, iii 60; Vitruvius, vii, pref. 12].

(2) Son of Telecles, and nephew of (1). He nourished in the time of Croesus and PSlycrates, whose ring he made [Herodo­ tus, i 51, iii 41]. [J. E. S.]

Theognls. A Greek elegiac poet, born about 540 b.c., of a rich and noble family in Megara. He lived at a time when bitter feuds had broken out in his native town between the nobles and the other citizens. On the fall of his party, having espoused the cause of the aristocracy, he was de­spoiled of his fortune and driven into exile. It was not until many years later that he was able to return to the home for which he yearned, and he was probably still alive at the time of the Persian Wars. From the remains of his elegies, which are mostly addressed in a hortatory form to the noble youth Cycnus, it may be seen that they were closely connected with the political fortunes of the poet. They exhibit the pride and rancour of the aristocrat, in whose eyes all his own party are " good " and " noble," as contrasted with the adherents of the popu­lar party, who are denounced as " base" and " cowardly." The loss of the great bulk of his poems was due to their contain­ing an extraordinary abundance of proverbs, which were at an early date extracted from his writings, to serve (especially at Athens) as precepts for the conduct of youth. Under his name we still possess a dreary collection of all kinds of proverbial coup­lets and precepts, which are strung together without coherence or plan, being connected by means of merely casual catchwords, and including adventitious elements, such as sayings of Tyrtseus, Mimnermus, S6lon, and others.

Thfion. (1) Of ScimSs. A Greek painter who flourished in the second half of the 4th century b.c. His pictures were celebrated for their powerful effect on the imagination, which caused those who looked at them to forget that they were only counterfeits of reality. The picture of a young hoplite charging the enemy was especially cele­brated for this effect of illusion [jElian, Var. Hist, ii 44].

(2) Of Smyrna. A Platonist living in the first half of the 2nd century a.d. He was the author of a work of great value in connexion with ancient Greek arithmetic: on the principles of mathematics, music, and astronomy required for the study of Plato.

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