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Headword: *simwni/dhs
Adler number: sigma,441
Translated headword: Simonides
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
"How the Dioscuri honored and loved the lyric poet Simonides, and how they saved him, calling him out of the hall when it was destroyed,[1] I shall recount elsewhere. But it is worth not omitting the following. There was a general of the people of Acragas, by name Phoenix [Author, Myth]; they were at war with the Syracusans. This Phoenix tore down the tomb of Simonides without care for the burial[2] and pitilessly, and from these stones set up a tower. Thence the city was captured. Callimachus seems to agree with this. Certainly he pities the sacrilegious deed; at any rate the Cyrenaic poet has represented him, the sweet poet, saying: 'Nor did he feel shame before the inscription that said I,[3] a Ceian man, lie here, the son of Leoprepes.' And then after some words he adds, 'Nor did he fear you, Polydeuces,[4] who placed me alone of the banqueters outside the hall about to collapse, when the great house of the sons of Crannon was destroyed on top of the Scopadae.'[5] The gods succor those who deserve it, and both the Olympian gods and those in the third arche[6] honor them; it does not seem good to me to meddle.[7] Let these things be a reminder to live righteously and so that we have the same guardians both here and there, when we come to the 'fated and inevitable crossing'[8]."
Greek Original:
*simwni/dhs: o(/pws e)ti/mhsa/n te kai\ e)fi/lhsan oi( *dio/skouroi to\n melopoio\n *simwni/dhn, kai\ pw=s e)rru/santo, kale/santes e)/cw tou= a)ndrw=nos, e)/nqa katw/lisqen, e)rw= a)llaxo/qi: a)/cion de\ mhde\ tau=ta paralipei=n: *)akraganti/nwn strathgo\s h)=n, o)/noma *foi=nic: *surakousi/ois de\ e)pole/moun ou(=toi. ou)kou=n o(/de o( *foi=nic dialu/ei to\n ta/fon tou= *simwni/dou ma/la a)khdw=s te kai\ a)noi/ktws, kai\ e)k tw=n li/qwn tw=nde a)ni/sthsi pu/rgon: kai\ kata\ tou=ton e(a/lw h( po/lis. e)/oike de\ kai\ *kalli/maxos tou/tois o(mologei=n. oi)kti/zetai gou=n to\ a)/qesmon e)/rgon, kai\ le/gonta/ ge au)to\n o( *kurhnai=os pepoi/hke to\n gluku\n poihth/n: ou)de\ to\ gra/mma h)|de/sqh to\ lego/menon ui(o\n *leoprepou=s kei=sqai *kh/i+on a)/ndra. ka)=|t' ei)pw\n a)/tta e)pile/gei: ou)d' u(me/as, *polu/deukes, u(pe/tresen, oi(/ me mela/qrou me/llontos pi/ptein e)kto\s e)/qesqe/ pote daitumo/nwn a)/po mou=non, o(/te *krannwni/wn ai)/as w)/lisqen me/gas oi)=kos e)pi\ *skopa/das. timwroi\ me\n dh\ qeoi\ toi=s a)ci/ois, kai\ timw=sin oi(/ te *)olu/mpioi, oi(/ te oi( e)pi\ th=s tri/ths a)rxh=s: ou)/ moi dokei= polupragmonei=n. e)/stwsan dh\ kai\ tau=ta u(po/mnhsis tou= biou=n o)rqw=s, i(/na te au)tou\s e)/xwmen kai\ e)ntau=qa khdemo/nas, kai\ e)kei=qi, o(/tan th\n ei(marme/nhn te kai\ a)nagkai/an porei/an e)/lqwmen.
Notes:
For Simonides see already sigma 439, sigma 440.
The present entry is usually assigned in toto as a fragment to Aelian the Sophist: fr. 63 Hercher, now fr. 66 Domingo-Foraste (Teubner, 1994). The quotation from Callimachus (previously Epigrams fr. 2) was significantly expanded by the discovery of a papyrus fragment (P.Oxy. 2211), and is now to be found, as Wilamowitz had previously suggested (Hellenistische Dichtung 180 n.1), as a fragment of Aetia III, frag. 64 Pfeiffer, under the title Sepulcrum Simonidis. The story told here is, however, false, a fact overlooked by Pfeiffer. Acragas had no known general called Phoenix [Author, Myth], and (crucially) there was no such conquest of Syracuse. Such a victor and victory could not have escaped Diodorus Siculus in his detailed account of Sicilian history. Indeed he is the source for the real story (13.85-88), here distorted. The Carthaginian general Hannibal (namesake of the 3rd.-century general) destroyed Acragas in 406 BC, by building a gigantic causeway from the hills west of Acragas, across the River Hypsos, to the western gate of the city. To fill this causeway he robbed the cemetery on one of the hills of its monumental stones. Simonides ended his life as a guest of Theron, tyrant of Acragas, presumably during his brief reign 478-3, and was buried there, as we learn from P.Oxy. 2211 (Callim. 64.3-4). The confusion has arisen from Callimachus's use of 'Phoenix' *foi/nic, 'Phoenician' for a Carthaginian, but this was not unusual. The Romans called the Carthaginians Poeni; cf. 'Punic' Wars. The Callimachus passage was badly construed to suggest that the Carthaginian was a general from Acragas. Confusion is also introduced if the passage is used, as commonly, to restore 'tower' (pu/rgw|), instead of a word for 'traverse, causeway' (porqmw=|) or for 'carrying sack' (pormw=|, a word used by the Archer in his dialect at Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 1007, and explained by the scholiast as used for formo/s and thus perhaps a Doric dialect form), in the Callimachus passage. The whole passage appears then to represent a confused commentary on a Callimachus poem, perhaps already distorted with bad manuscript readings, and is less plausibly attributable to Aelian.
[1] This story (also referred to in the Callimachus fragment cited below) became a commonplace among poets, that the gods protect the sacred poet, and a fable, "Simonides preserved by the gods" (Phaedrus, Fables 4.24; La Fontaine 1.14). Simonides reported in a poem that he had been dining with his patron, the Thessalian dynast Scopas (of dubious reputation) and his court, when two strangers came to the door of the dining room and called him outside. At that moment the roof collapsed and killed all the remaining banqueters, a just punishment in the eyes of many. Simonides claimed that the strangers vanished, for they had been the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, arrived to save him from the gods' punishment of his patron.
[2] This sentence and the next also appear at alpha 860.
[3] Instead of the untranslatable text in the Suda, I here translate the reading of P.Oxy.2211: to\ le/gon to/n me.
[4] Although Polydeuces, or Pollux (with Castor, one of the Dioscuri), is here addressed alone, the verb is construed after a plural subject 'you'.
[5] The clause is not that of the papyrus fragment, which runs "when the Crannonian house was destroyed, alas! on the great Scopadae," i.e. on the court of Scopas. This is further evidence that the author of this passage is using a corrupt text of Callimachus, or that the transmission of this passage has been corrupted.
[6] The passage seems to refer to men as the "third arche or creation". Intense speculation on the "third arche or principle" arose from Plato, Timaeus 39E-40A. Plato seems to have envisaged matter (hyle) as an eidos or phenomenon, mixed from air and water, but later mysticism, including some Christians, saw the "third principle or creation" as that which combined god with matter to form phenomena, including mankind and material gods such as the Orphic and Christian Dragon. See Damascius, De principiis 1.317ff. for a discussion.
[7] This verb refers to those who occupy themselves with the search for knowledge or affairs that fall outside their responsibility or calling, and gains particularly negative connotations in monastic settings.
[8] This phrase is from the memorable and often cited reference in Plato (Menexenus 236D) to crossing the river Styx after death.
Reference:
Callimachus, ed. R. Pfeiffer, 1949, I 66-68.
Keywords: biography; Christianity; ethics; food; geography; history; military affairs; philosophy; poetry; religion; science and technology
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 10 June 2000@17:57:16.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (Altered wording; eliminated note.) on 16 August 2000@00:54:45.
Catharine Roth (Adjusted note numbers, raised status.) on 19 August 2000@02:13:43.
David Whitehead (added note and keywords; restorative and other cosmetics) on 12 September 2002@09:24:59.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 2 March 2012@01:01:25.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 24 December 2013@08:11:49.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 1 March 2015@22:50:07.

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