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On this page: Stesicleides – Stesicles



His own name is said to have been at first which was changed to Stesichorus, because he first established a chorus for singing to the harp. (Suid. s. v. 'E/cATjfoj Se Srya-idos, on irpwros

v eo'Trjcre*', eTret rot Trp6r€pov Ticrias e/caAe?T0.) The meaning of this statement will be examined pre­sently. Of the events of his life we have only a few obscure accounts. Like other great poets, his birth is fabled to have been attended by an omen ; a night­ingale sat upon the babe's lips, and sung a sweet strain. (Christod. EcpJir. ap. Jacobs, Anth. Graec. vol. i. p. 42 ; Plin //. N. x. 29.) He is said to have been carefully educated at Catana, and after­wards to have enjoyed the friendship of Phalaris, the tyrant of Agrigentum. The latter statement rests on no better authority than the spurious letters of Phalaris ; but there is nothing to prevent its being true, since it is clear that Phalaris and Stesi­chorus were contemporaries. Many writers relate the fablo of his being miraculously struck with blindness after writing an attack upon Helen, and recovering his sight when he had composed a Pa-linodia. (Paus. iii. 19. 11, &c. ; Kleine, Dissert. sect, vii.) The statement that he travelled in Greece appears to be supported by some passages in the fragments of his poems, by the known usage of the early Grecian poets, and by the confused tradition preserved by Suidas, that he came to Catana as an exile from Pallantium in Arcadia. For his connection with Catana, and his burial there, we have several testimonies. Suidas says that he was buried by a gate of the city, which was called after him the Stesichoreian gate, and that a splendid octagonal monument was erected over his tomb, having eight pillars and eight sets of steps and eight angles ; whence, according to some was derived the name ^rrjo-ixopos apidpos, applied to the throw " all eight " in gaming. (Suid. s. v. trdvra o/ctco ; Pollux, ix. 7 ; Eustath. ad Horn. pp. 1229, 1397.)

There are extant two ancient epitaphs on Stesi­chorus, the one in Greek, by Antipater (Jacobs, Antli. Graec. vol. i. p. 328), the other in Latin (Ferrett. Mus. Lapidar. v. 36, p. 354). The peo­ple of Thermae, the town which succeeded Himera, had a bronze statue of the poet, which Cicero de­scribes as statua senilis, incurva, cum libro, summo ut putant artificio facta (Verr. ii. 35). This or another statue formed afterwards one of the trea­sures of the gymnasium of Zeuxippus at Byzantium. (Christod. Ecphr. I. c.) There is also a bronze medal of Himera, bearing on the reverse a man standing, holding a crown in his right hand and a lyre in his left, which some suppose to have been struck in honour of Stesichorus.

Among the ancient writers who celebrated his praises were Cicero (I. c.\ Aristeides (Orat. vol. i. p. 152, ed. Steph.), Dionysius (de Comp. Verb. vol. ii. p. 28, ed. Sylb.), Longinus (xiii. 3), Dio Chrysostom (p. 559, d. ed. Morell.), and Synesius (Insom. p. 158, b. ed. Paris. 1612), nearly all of whom compare him to Homer in character and style. Quintilian's testimony is, in general, to the same effect, but he blames the language of Stesi­chorus as diffuse (x. i. 62). Hermogenes, on the contrary, says that his numerous epithets add sweet­ness to his style (de Form. Oral. ii. p. 409, ed. Laurent.). For other testimonies see Kleine, sect. ix.

Stesichorus was one of the nine chiefs of lyric poetry recognized by the ancients He stands,


with Alcman, at the head of one branch of the lyric art, the choral poetry of the Dorians ; for, although he lived fifty years later than Alcman, yet the improvements made by the Himeraean poet on the chorus were so distinct from, arid so far in advance of, those, introduced by the Spartan, that he well deserves to share the honour, which some indeed, as we have seen, ascribed to him exclu­sively, of being the inventor of choral poetry. He was the first to break the monotony of the strophe and antistrophe by the introduction of the epode, and his metres were much more varied, and the structure of his strophes more elaborate, than those of Alcman. His odes contained all the essential elements of the perfect choral poetry of Pindar and the tragedians. For an analysis of his metres, see Kleine, sect. xi.

The subjects of his poems were chiefly heroic ; he transferred the subjects of the old epic poetry to the lyric form, dropping, of course, the conti­nuous narrative, and dwelling on isolated adven­tures of his heroes. He also composed poems on other subjects. His extant remains are classified by Kleine under the following heads. 1. Mythi­cal Poems, of which we have the following titles : "A0Aa, Trjpvovis, K*p§€pos, kvkvos, 2/cvAAa, 2uo-6rjpai9 Eiy)co7reia, *l\iov ire pa-is, Nocrroi, 'Opeareia. 2. Hymns, Encomia, Epithalamia, Paeans : among which were, IlaAo/pSia ets 'EAeVcw, and 'E7ri0aAd-f.uov 'EAeVas. 3. Erotic Poems, and Scolia: titles, KaAy/ca, 'PaSivd. 4. A pastoral poem, entitled &d(f)vis. 5. Fables : "ittttos /ecu eAa<£oy. Tewpybs Kal aer<fo, Ei's Actapous Trapaivecns. 6. Elegies.

The dialect of Stesichorus was Dorian, with an intermixture of the epic. His nomes were mostly in the Dorian, but sometimes also in the Phrygian


The fragments of Stesichorus have been printed with the editions of Pindar published in 1560, 1566, 1567, 1586, 1598, 1620, and in the collec­tions of the Greek poets published in 1568 and 1569, and recently in the collections of Schneide-win and Bergk. They have also been edited by Suchfort, Gutting. 1771, 4to. ; by Blomfield, in the Museum Criticum, vol. ii. pp. 256—272, 340

—358, 504, 607, and in Gaisford's Poetae Minores Graeci; and by Fr. Kleine, Berol. 1828, 8vo. The last mentioned is by far the most useful edition of the fragments, and the authorities respecting the life and writings of the poet are collected and dis­ cussed in a dissertation prefixed to the fragments. (Fabric. Bill. Graec. vol. ii. pp. 151—157 ; Miiller, Hist, of Lit. ofAnc. Greece, pp. 197—203 ; Bern- hardy, Grundriss d. Griech. Litt. vol. ii. pp. 471— 477 ; Kleine, as above quoted.) [P. S.]

STESICLEIDES (2Tij<nKA6&rjs),an Athenian, wrote a catalogue of the archons and victors in the Olympic games. (Diog. Lae'rt. ii. 56.)

STESICLES (S-njtnKATjs), an Athenian, was sent in b. c. 373 with a force of some 600 tar-geteers to aid the democratic party at Corcyra against the Lacedaemonians under Mnasippus. A more effective armament of 60 ships, with Timo-theus for commander, was to follow as soon as it could be got ready. Meanwhile, Stesicles, with the assistance of Alcetas I., king of Epeirus, effected an entrance into the town under cover of night. Here he reconciled the dissensions of the democratic party, united them against the common enemy, and conducted that series of successful operations, which ended in the defeat and death of

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