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mis," he exclaims, " this city is still a city, but the people are others, who formerly knew nothing of courts of justice or of laws, but wore goat-skins about their ribs, and dwelt without this citVi, like timid deer. And now they are the good (ayaQoi) ; and those who were formerly noble (ecr0Aoi) are now the mean (Se/Aoi): who can endure to see these things?" (vv. 53—58, ed. Bergk.) The intercourse of common life, and the new distribution of property, were rapidly breaking down the old aristocracy of birth, and raising up in its place an aristocracy of wealth. M They honour riches, and the good marries the daughter of the bad, and the bad the daughter of the good, wealth confounds the race (e,ui£e yevos). Thus, wonder not that the race of citizens loses its brightness, for good things are confounded with bad." (vv. 189—192.) These complaints of the debasement of the nobles by their intermixture with the commons are embittered by a personal feeling ; for he had been rejected by the parents of the girl he, loved, and she had been given in marriage to a person of far inferior rank (TroAAop e/xoy /ca/acoy) ; but Theognis believes that her affections are still fixed on him (vv. 261—266). He distrusts the stability of the new order of things, and points to a new despotism as either established or just at hand.
Most of these political verses are addressed to a certain Cyrnus, the son of Polypas ; for it is now generally admitted that the same IIoAv7rcu5?7S, which has been sometimes supposed to refer to a different person, is to be understood as a patronymic, and as applying to Cyrnus. From the verses themselves, as well as from the statements of the ancient writers, it appears that Cyrnus was a young man towards whom Theognis cherished a firm friendship, and even that tender regard, that pure and honourable 7rat5epa<TT/a, which often bound together men of different ages in the Dorian states (vv. 253, foil., 655, 820,^1051, foil. ; Suid. s. v. ©ioyvis ; Phot. Lex. s. v. Kvpvos). From one passage (805, foil.) it appears that Cyrnus was old enough, and of sufficient standing in the city, to be sent to Delphi as a sacred envoy (frewpos} to bring back an oracle, which the poet exhorts him to preserve faithfully. There is another fragment, also of a political character, but in a different tone, addressed to a certain Simonides ; in which the revolution itself is described in guarded language, which indicates the sense of present danger ; while in the verses addressed to Cyrnus the change is presupposed, and the poet speaks out his feelings, as one who has nothing more to fear or hope for.
The other fragments of the poetry of Theognis are of a social, most of them of a festive character. They " place us in the midst of a circle of friends, who formed a kind of eating society, like the philistia of Sparta, and like the ancient public tables of Megara itself." (Mailer, p. 123.) All the members of this society belonged to the class whom the poet calls " the good." He addresses them, like Cyrnus and Simonides, by their names, Onoma-critus, Clearistus, Democles, Demonax, and Tima-goras, in passages which are probably fragments of distinct elegies, and in which allusion is made to their various characters and adventures ; and he refers, as also in his verses addressed to Cyrnus, to the fame conferred upon them by the introduction of their names in his poems, both at other places, where already in his own time his elegies were gung at banquets, and in future ages. A good
account of these festive elegies is given in the following passage from Muller: — u The poetry of Theognis is full of allusions to symposia : so that from it a clear conception of the outward accompaniments of the elegy may be formed. When the guests were satisfied with eating, the cups were filled for the solemn libation ; and at this ceremony a prayer was offered to the gods, especially to Apollo, which in many districts of Greece was expanded into a paean. Here began the more joyous and noisy part of the banquet, which Theognis (as well as Pindar) calls in general kgo/xos, although this word in a narrower sense also signified the tumultuous throng of the guests departing from the feast. Now the Comos was usually accompanied with the flute : hence Theognis speaks in so many places of the accompaniment of the flute-player to the poems sung in the intervals of drinking ; while the lyre and cithara (or phorminx) are rarely mentioned, and then chiefly in reference to the song at the libation. And this was the appropriate occasion for the elegy, which was sung by one of the guests to the sound of a flute, being either addressed to the company at large, or (as is always the case in Theognis) to a single guest." (p. 124.) Schneidewin traces a marked distinction in the style and spirit of those portions of the poems of Theognis, which he composed in his youth and prosperity, and those which he wrote in his mature age, and when misfortunes had come upon him.
As to the form in which the poems of Theognis were originally composed, and that in which the fragments of them have come down to us, there is a wide field for speculation. The ancients had a collection of elegiac poetry, under his name, which they sometimes mention as e'A^eta, and sometimes as €7r?7, and which they regarded as chiefly, if not entirely, of a gnomic character. (Plat. Menon. p. 95, d.) Xenophon says that "this poet discourses of nothing else but respecting the virtue and vice of men, and his poetry is a treatise (<rvyypafjt.iJ.tt) concerning men, just as if any one skilled in horsemanship were to write a treatise about horsemanship." (Xenoph. ap. Stob. Florileg. Ixxxviii.) To the same effect Isocrates mentions Hesiod, Theognis, and Phocylides, as confessedly those who have given the best advice respecting human life (not yap rovrovs (pacr). iazv apicrTovs yeyevyaOai avu~ €ov\ovs Tq &ic*) rep tg$v avQp&irwv} ; and, from the context, it may be inferred, that the works of these poets were used in Greek education (Isocrat. ad Nicocl. 42, p. 23, b). Suidas (s. v.) enumerates, as his works, an Elegy els rovs cruOevras twv 3vpa-Kovffiwv ev rfj TToXiopKiq (see Welcker, Proleg. p. xv.) ; Gnomic Elegies, to the amount of 2800 verses (yvtajJiai 5i5 e\eyeias els ctttj /3w) ; a Gnomology in elegiac verse, and other hortatory counsels, addressed to Cyrnus (/ecu Trpbs Kvpvov, rbis avrov eptafj-evov, TvoofJioXoyiav 81' eXeyeiuv /cat erepas viroQ'fiKas ttcc-paiveriKds). Suidas adds, that these poems were all of the epic form (ra iravra eVi/ccos), a phrase which can only be explained by taking the word epic in that wide sense, of which we have several other instances, one of which (Plat. Men. p. 95, d.) has been noticed above, as including poems in the elegiac verse ; for all the remains of Theognis which we possess are elegiac, and there is no sufficient reason to suppose that he wrote any epic poems, properly so called, or even any gnomic poems in hexameter verse. Had he done so, the fact would surely have been indicated by the occasional appearance of con-