Stesichorus (/stəˈsɪkərəs/; Greek: Στησίχορος, Stēsikhoros; c. 630 – 555 BC) was the first great lyric poet of the West. He is best known for telling epic stories in lyric metres[1] but he is also famous for some ancient traditions about his life, such as his opposition to the tyrant Phalaris, and the blindness he is said to have incurred and cured by composing verses first insulting and then flattering to Helen of Troy.

He was ranked among the nine lyric poets esteemed by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria and yet his work attracted relatively little interest among ancient commentators,[2] so that remarkably few fragments of his poetry now survive. As one scholar observed in 1967: "Time has dealt more harshly with Stesichorus than with any other major lyric poet."[3] Recent discoveries, recorded on Egyptian papyrus (notably and controversially, the Lille Stesichorus),[4] have led to some improvements in our understanding of his work, confirming his role as a link between Homer's epic narrative and the lyric narrative of poets like Pindar.[5]

The following description of the birthplace of the monster Geryon, preserved as a quote by the geographer Strabo,[6] is characteristic of the "descriptive fulness" of his style:[7]

σχεδὸν ἀντιπέρας κλεινᾶς Ἐρυθείας
                                              > Ταρτησ-
σοῦ ποταμοῦ παρὰ παγὰσ ἀπείρονας ἀρ-
ἐν κευθμῶνι πέτρας.[8]

A nineteenth century translation imaginatively fills in the gaps while communicating something of the richness of the language:

Where monster Geryon first beheld the light,
Famed Erytheia rises to the sight;
Born near th' unfathomed silver springs that gleam
'Mid caverned rocks, and feed Tartessus' stream.[9]

Stesichorus exercised an important influence on the representation of myth in 6th century art[10] and on the development of Athenian dramatic poetry.[11]

Tabula iliaca Musei Capitolini MC0316 retouched
A scene from the Tabula Iliaca, bearing the inscription "Sack of Troy according to Stesichorus"


Stesichorus was born in Metauros (modern Gioia Tauro) in Calabria, Southern Italy[12][13][14][15][16] c. 630 BC and died in Katane (modern Catania) in Sicily in 555 BC. Some say that he came from Himera in Sicily, but that was due to him moving from Metauros to Himera later in life. When exiled from Pallantium in Arcadia he came to Katane (Catania) and when he died there was buried in front of the gate which is called Stesichorean after him. In date he was later than the lyric poet Alcman, since he was born in the 37th Olympiad (632/28 BC). He died in the 56th Olympiad (556/2 BC). He had a brother Mamertinus who was an expert in geometry and a second brother Helianax, a law-giver. He was a lyric poet. His poems are in the Doric dialect and in 26 books. They say that he was blinded for writing abuse of Helen and recovered his sight after writing an encomium of Helen, the Palinode, as the result of a dream. He was called Stesichorus because he was the first to establish (stesai) a chorus of singers to the cithara; his name was originally Tisias.


The specific dates given by the Suda for Stesichorus have been dismissed by one modern scholar as "specious precision"[17] — its dates for the floruit of Alcman (the 27th Olympiad), the life of Stesichorus (37th–56th Olympiads) and the birth of Simonides (the 56th Olympiad) virtually lay these three poets end-to-end, a coincidence that seems to underscore a convenient division between old and new styles of poetry.[18] Nevertheless, the Suda's dates "fit reasonably well" with other indications of Stesichorus's life-span — for example, they are consistent with a claim elsewhere in Suda that the poet Sappho was his contemporary, along with Alcaeus and Pittacus, and also with the claim, attested by other sources, that Phalaris was his contemporary.[19] Aristotle quoted a speech the poet is supposed to have made to the people of Himera warning them against the tyrannical ambitions of Phalaris.[20] The Byzantine grammarian Tzetzes also listed him as a contemporary of the tyrant and yet made him a contemporary of the philosopher Pythagoras as well.[21] According to Lucian, the poet lived to 85 years of age.[22] Hieronymus declared that his poems became sweeter and more swan-like as he approached death,[23] and Cicero knew of a bronzed statue representing him as a bent old man holding a book.[24] Eusebius dated his floruit in Olympiad 42.2 (611/10 BC) and his death in Olympiad 55.1 (560/59 BC).[25]


The Suda's claim that Hesiod was the father of Stesichorus can be dismissed as "fantasy"[26] yet it is also mentioned by Tzetzes[27] and the Hesiodic scholiast Proclus[28] (one of them however named the mother of Stesichorus via Hesiod as Ctimene and the other as Clymene). According to another tradition known to Cicero, Stesichorus was the grandson of Hesiod[29] yet even this verges on anachronism since Hesiod was composing verses around 700 BC.[30] Stesichorus might be regarded as Hesiod's literary "heir" (his treatment of Helen in the Palinode, for example, may have owed much to Hesiod's Catalogue of Women)[31] and maybe this was the source of confusion about a family relationship.[32] According to Stephanus of Byzantium[33] and the philosopher Plato[34] the poet's father was named Euphemus, but an inscription on a herm from Tivoli listed him as Euclides.[35] The poet's mathematically inclined brother was named Mamertinus by the Suda but a scholiast in a commentary on Euclid named him Mamercus.[36]


Stesichorus's lyrical treatment of epic themes was well-suited to a western Greek audience, owing to the popularity of hero-cults in southern Italy and Magna Graeca, as for example the cult of Philoctetes at Sybaris, Diomedes at Thurii and the Atreidae at Tarentum.[37] It was also a sympathetic environment for his most famous poem, The Palinode, composed in praise of Helen, an important cult figure in the Doric diaspora.[38] On the other hand, the western Greeks were not very different from their eastern counterparts and his poetry cannot be regarded exclusively as a product of the Greek West .[39] His poetry reveals both Doric and Ionian influences and this is consistent with the Suda'a claim that his birthplace was either Metauria or Himera, both of which were founded by colonists of mixed Ionian/Doric descent.[40] On the other hand, a Doric/Ionian flavour was fashionable among later poets — it is found in the 'choral' lyrics of the Ionian poets Simonides and Bacchylides — and it might have been fashionable even in Stesichorus's own day.[41] His poetry included a description of the river Himera[42] as well as praise for the town named after it,[43] and his poem Geryoneis included a description of Pallantium in Arcadia.[44] His possible exile from Arcadia is attributed by one modern scholar to rivalry between Tegea and Sparta.[45] Traditional accounts indicate that he was politically active in Magna Graeca. Aristotle mentions two public speeches by Stesichorus: one to the people of Himera, warning them against Phalaris, and another to the people of Locri, warning them against presumption (possibly referring to their war against Rhegium).[46] Philodemus believed that the poet once stood between two armies (which two, he doesn't say) and reconciled them with a song — but there is a similar story about Terpander.[47] According to the 9th century scholar Photius, the term eight all (used by gamblers at dice) derives from an expensive burial the poet received outside Catana, including a monument with eight pillars, eight steps and eight corners,[48] but the 3rd century grammarian Julius Pollux attributed the same term to an 'eight all ways' tomb given to the poet outside Himera.[49]


Many modern scholars don't accept the Suda's claim that Stesichorus was named for his innovations in choral poetry — there are good reasons to believe that his lyrical narratives were composed for solo performance (see Works below). Moreover the name wasn't unique — there seems to have been more than one poet of this name[50] (see Spurious works below). The Suda in yet another entry refers to the fact, now verified by Papyrus fragments, that Stesichorus composed verses in units of three stanzas (strophe, antistrophe and epode), a format later followed by poets such as Bacchylides and Pindar. Suda claims this three-stanza format was popularly referred to as the three of Stesichorus in a proverbial saying rebuking cultural buffoons ("You don't even know the three of Stesichorus!"). According to one modern scholar, however, this saying could instead refer to the following three lines of his poem The Palinode, addressed to Helen of Troy:[51]

There is no truth in that story,
You didn't ride in the well-rowed galleys,
You didn't reach the walls of Troy.[52]

Helen of Troy's bad character was a common theme among poets such as Sappho and Alcaeus[53] and, according to various ancient accounts, Stesichorus viewed her in the same light until she magically punished him with blindness for blaspheming her in one of his poems.[54] According to a colourful account recorded by Pausanias, she later sent an explanation to Stesichorus via a man from Croton, who was on a pilgrimage to White Island in the Black Sea (near the mouth of the Blue Danube), and it was in response to this that Stesichorus composed the Palinode,[55] absolving her of all blame for the Trojan War and thus restoring himself to full sight.


The ancients associated the lyrical qualities of Stesichorus with the voice of the nightingale, as in this quote from the Palatine Anthology: " his birth, when he had just reached the light of day, a nightingale, travelling through the air from somewhere or other, perched unnoticed on his lips and struck up her clear song."[56] The account is repeated by Pliny the Elder[57] but it was the epic qualities of his work that most impressed ancient commentators,[50] though with some reservations on the part of Quintillian:

"The greatness of Stesichorus' genius is shown among other things by his subject-matter: he sings of the most important wars and the most famous commanders and sustains on his lyre the weight of epic poetry. In both their actions and their speeches he gives due dignity to his characters, and if only he had shown restraint he could possibly have been regarded as a close rival of Homer; but he is redundant and diffuse, a fault to be sure but explained by the abundance of what he had to say." Quintillian[58]

In a similar vein, Dionysius of Halicarnassus commends Stesichorus for "...the magnificence of the settings of his subject matter; in them he has preserved the traits and reputations of his characters",[59] and Longinus puts him in select company with Herodotus, Archilochus and Plato as the 'most Homeric' of authors.[60]

Modern scholars tend to accept the general thrust of the ancient comments – even the 'fault' noted by Quintillian gets endorsement: 'longwindedness', as one modern scholar calls it, citing, as proof of it, the interval of 400 lines separating Geryon's death from his eloquent anticipation of it.[61] Similarly, "the repetitiveness and slackness of the style" of the recently discovered Lille papyrus has even been interpreted by one modern scholar as proof of Stesichorean authorship[62] – though others originally used it as an argument against.[4] Possibly Stesichorus was even more Homeric than ancient commentators realized – they had assumed that he composed verses for performance by choirs (the triadic structure of the stanzas, comprising strophe, antistrophe and epode, is consistent with choreographed movement) but a poem such as the Geryoneis included some 1500 lines and it probably required about four hours to perform – longer than a chorus might reasonably be expected to dance.[63] Moreover, the versatility of lyric meter is suited to solo performance with self-accompaniment on the lyre[64] – which is how Homer himself delivered poetry. Whether or not it was a choral technique, the triadic structure of Stesichorean lyrics allowed for novel arrangements of dactylic meter – the dominant meter in his poems and also the defining meter of Homeric epic – thus allowing for Homeric phrasing to be adapted to new settings. However, Stesichorus did more than recast the form of epic poetry – works such as the Palinode were also a recasting of epic material: in that version of the Trojan War, the combatants fought over a phantom Helen while the real Helen either stayed home or went to Egypt (see a summary below). The 'Lyric Age' of Greece was in part self-discovery and self-expression – as in the works of Alcaeus and Sappho – but a concern for heroic values and epic themes still endured:

"Stesichorus' citharodic narrative points to the simultaneous coexistence of different literary genres and currents in an age of great artistic energy and experimentation. It is one of the exciting qualities of early Greek culture that forms continue to evolve, but the old traditions still remain strong as points of stability and proud community, unifying but not suffocating." – Charles Seagal.[65]

An 'Homeric' simile

The Homeric qualities of Stesichorus' poetry are demonstrated in a fragment of his poem Geryoneis describing the death of the monster Geryon. A scholiast writing in a margin on Hesiod's Theogony noted that Stesichorus gave the monster wings, six hands and six feet, whereas Hesiod himself had only described it as 'three-headed'.[66] yet Stesichorus adapted Homeric motifs to create a humanized portrait of the monster,[67] whose death in battle mirrors the death of Gorgythion in Homer's Iliad, translated here by Richard Lattimore:

He bent drooping his head to one side, as a garden poppy
bends beneath the weight of its yield and the rains of springtime;" (Iliad 8.306-8)[68]

Homer here transforms Gorgythion's death in battle into a thing of beauty—the poppy has not wilted or died.[69] Stesichorus adapted the simile to restore Death's ugliness while still retaining the poignancy of the moment:[70]

Then Geryon rested his neck to one side
As might a poppy when it mars
The tenderness of its body shedding
Suddenly all of its petals... (Geryoneis)[71]

The mutual self-reflection of the two passages is part of the novel aesthetic experience that Stesichorus here puts into play.[72] The enduring freshness of his art, in spite of its epic traditions, is borne out by Ammianus Marcellinus in an anecdote about Socrates: happening to overhear, on the eve of his own execution, the rendition of a song of Stesichorus, the old philosopher asked to be taught it: "So that I may know something more when I depart from life." [73]

See The Queen's Speech in the Lille fragment for more on Stesichorus's style.

The 26 books

His works, according to the Suda, were collected in 26 books but each of these was probably a long, narrative poem. The titles of more than half of them are recorded by ancient sources:[74]

  • Helen: This might have been the poem in which he portrayed Helen of Troy according to convention as a bad character.[38] His interest in the Trojan epic cycle is evinced in a number of works.[75]
  • Helen: Palinodes: An introduction to a poem of Theocritus refers to "the first book of Stesichorus's Helen",[76] indicating that there were at least two books under this title. Similarly, a commentary recorded on a papyrus, indicates there were two Palinodes, one censuring Homer, the other Hesiod for the false story that Helen went to Troy.[77] Dio Chrysostom summarises two accounts of the Palinode, one in which Helen never sailed for Troy, and a second in which she ended up in Egypt[78] – only her image arrived at Troy. It is not known if either of the two Palinodes was separate from the Helen book(s).[79]
  • Sack of Troy: Some scholars think the content of the poem can be deduced from a relief carved onto a monument near Rome, but this is contentious – see the section below Tabula Iliaca.
  • Wooden Horse: The title was recorded in a fragmentary form on a roll of papyrus: Στη...Ίππ.. ~ Ste(sichorus's Wooden) Hor(se). Possibly it was just an alternative title for Sack of Troy.[80]
  • Nostoi (The Returns): This dealt with the return of the Greek warriors from Troy.
  • Geryoneis: This relates the theft by Heracles of Geryon's cattle. Many recently discovered fragments allow us a glimpse of the poet at work over the length of the entire poem.[81] It includes:
    • romantic geography – descriptions of the Sun's voyage in a golden cup under Ocean, of Eurytion's homeland, the 'all-golden' Hesperides, and of Pallanteum in Arcadia, which possibly featured as the home of the Centaur, Pholus;
    • poignant speeches based on Homeric models – a proud speech by Geryon to Heracles that echoes Sarpedon's speech to Glaucus,[82] and an exchange between Geryon and his mother Callirhoe that echoes exchanges between Achilles-Thetis [83] and Hector-Hecuba;[84]
    • heroic action, again with Homeric colouring – a description of the dying Geryon that echoes the death of Gorgythion.[85]
  • Cerberus: The title is mentioned by Julius Pollux only because it included the Greek word for a purse but clearly it relates to Heracles's descent into Hades to fetch Cerberus.[86]
  • Cycnus: A scholiast commenting on a poem by Pindar summarises the story: Heracles's final triumph over Cycnus after an initial defeat.[87]
  • Skylla: The title is mentioned by a scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes in a passing reference to Skylla's parentage[88] and possibly it involved Heracles.[81]
  • Thebaid, Seven Against Thebes?: These two titles are conjectured by one modern scholar[89] as appropriate for the longest fragment attributed to Stesichorus – discovered in 1974 among the wrappings of a mummy of the 2nd century BC stored at the university of Lille, generally known as The Lille Stesichorus. It presents a speech by a Theban queen, possibly Jocasta, and some scholars have denied attribution to Stesichorus on account of its "drab, repetitious flaccidity".[90] But opinions are mixed and one scholar sees in it "...Stesichorus' full mastery of his technique, handling epic situations and characters with the flexibility and poignancy of lyric."[65]
  • Eriphyle: The title is mentioned by Sextus Empiricus in relation to an imaginative account of Asclepius raising the dead at Thebes.[91] Evidently it concerns Eriphyle's role in the Theban epic cycle but with an imaginative twist.
  • Europa: The title is mentioned by a scholiast on the Phoenissae of Euripides in relation to Stesichorus's imaginative variation on the traditional tale of Cadmus, the brother of Europa, sowing dragon's teeth – Stesichorus presented Athena in that role.[92]
  • Oresteia: It came in two parts. The title is mentioned by a scholiast on Peace, a play by Aristophanes, attributing some of the lyrics to a borrowing from Stesichorus's poem.[93] The 'second' Oresteia is mentioned in a scholiast's comment on Dionysius of Thrace, according to which Stesichorus attributed the discovery of the Greek alphabet to Palamedes.[94]
  • Boar-hunters: Athenaeus mentions the title when quoting a description of a boar nosing the earth and the poem evidently concerned Meleager and the Calydonian Boar.[95]
  • Funeral Games of Pelias: The title is recorded by Zenobius,[96] Athenaeus[97] and Etymologicum Magnum,[98] the last two of which also include a handful of quotes.

Spurious works

Some poems were wrongly attributed to Stesichorus by ancient sources, including bucolic poems and some love songs such as Calyce and Rhadine. It is possible that these are the works of another Stesichorus belonging to the fourth century, mentioned in the Marmor Parium.[99]

Tabula Iliaca

Bovillae, about twelve miles outside Rome, was the original site of a monument dating from the Augustan period and now located in the Capitoline Museum. The stone monument features scenes from the fall of Troy, depicted in low relief, and an inscription: Ιλίου Πέρσις κατα Στησίχορον ('Sack of Troy according to Stesichorus').[100] Scholars are divided as to whether or not it accurately depicts incidents described by Stesichorus in his poem Sack of Troy. There is, for example, a scene showing Aeneas and his father Anchises departing 'for Hesperia' with 'sacred objects', which might have more to do with the poetry of Virgil than with that of Stesichorus.[101][102][103]


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  34. ^ Plato Phaedrus 244a, cited by Campbell in Loeb page 37
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  83. ^ Iliad 18
  84. ^ Iliad 22
  85. ^ Iliad 8.306-8.
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  87. ^ Schol.A.Pind.10.19, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 123
  88. ^ Schol.Ap.Rhod.4.825-31, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 133
  89. ^ David Cambell, Loeb, page 137
  90. ^ Anne Burnett, 'Jocasta in the West: The Lille Stesichorus, Classical Antiquity Vol.7, No.2 (Oct 1988) page 107
  91. ^ Sextus Empiricus adv.mathem. 1.261, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 97
  92. ^ Schol.Eur.Phoen. 670, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 101
  93. ^ Ar.Pax 797ss, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 127
  94. ^ Schola.Vat. in Dion.Thrac. Art. 6, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 129
  95. ^ Athen. 3.95d, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 133
  96. ^ Zenobius vi 44, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 63
  97. ^ Athenaeus 4.172de, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 63
  98. ^ Et.Mag. 544.54, cited by David Cambell, Loeb, page 61
  99. ^ Marm.Par. Ep.50, cited by Charles Segal in 'Archaic Choral Lyric' page 192
  100. ^ I.G.14.1284
  101. ^ Zahra Newby, Art and Inscription in the Ancient World', Cambridge University Press (2006), Introduction
  102. ^ David A.Campbell, Greek Lyric III, Loeb Classical Library (1991), page 107
  103. ^ Charles Seagal, Archaic Choral Lyric, 'The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I: Greek Literature', Cambridge University Press (1985), page 196, note 1

Further reading

  • Barrett, W. S., Greek Lyric, Tragedy, and Textual Criticism: Collected Papers, edited for publication by M. L. West (Oxford & New York, 2007)
  • Carson, Anne, Autobiography of Red. Modern retelling of Stesichoros' fragments.
  • Plato, Phaedrus.
  • M. Davies, Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (PMGF) vol. 1, Oxford 1991: testimonies of his life and works pp. 134–151, fragments pp. 152–234 (previously D. L. Page, Poetae Melici Graeci (PMG), Oxford 1962, and Supplementum Lyricis Graecis (SLG), Oxford 1974).
  • D. A. Campbell, Greek Lyric III: Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides and Others (Loeb Classical Library).
  • G. O. Hutchinson, Greek Lyric Poetry: A Commentary on Selected Larger Pieces (Alcman, Stesichorus, Sappho, Alcaeus, Ibycus, Anacreon, Simonides, Bacchylides, Pindar, Sophocles, Euripides), Oxford, 2001.
  • J. M. Edmonds, Lyra Graeca II, pp. 23 (Loeb Classical Library) Harvard University Press, 1958

External links


Antistrophe (Ancient Greek: ἀντιστροφή, "a turning back") is the portion of an ode sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east, in response to the strophe, which was sung from east to west.It has the nature of a reply and balances the effect of the strophe. Thus, in Gray's ode called "The Progress of Poesy" (excerpt below), the strophe, which dwelt in triumphant accents on the beauty, power and ecstasy verse, is answered by the antistrophe, in a depressed and melancholy key:

When the sections of the chorus have ended their responses, they unite and close in the epode, thus exemplifying the triple form, in which the ancient sacred hymns of Greece were coined, from the days of Stesichorus onwards. As Milton says: "strophe, antistrophe and epode were a kind of stanza framed for the music then used with the chorus that sang".Antistrophe was also a kind of ancient dance, wherein dancers stepped sometimes to the right, and sometimes to the left, still doubling their turns or conversions. The motion toward the left, they called antistrophe, from ὰντὶ, "against", and στροφὴ, of στρέφω, "I turn".

Autobiography of Red

Autobiography of Red (1998) is a verse novel by Anne Carson, based loosely on the myth of Geryon and the Tenth Labor of Herakles, especially on surviving fragments of the lyric poet Stesichorus' poem Geryoneis.


In Greek mythology, Autoleon was a hero of Croton in southern Italy, of which the following story is told. Pausanias relates precisely the same story of one Leonymus.It was customary with the Opuntian Locrians, whenever they drew up their army in battle array, to leave one place in the lines open for their national hero Ajax. Once in a battle between the Locrians and Crotonians in Italy, Autoleon wanted to penetrate into this vacant place, hoping thus to conquer the Locrians. But the shade of Ajax appeared and inflicted on Autoleon a wound from which he suffered severely. The oracle advised him to conciliate the shade of Ajax by offering sacrifices to him in the island of Leuce. This was done accordingly, and Autoleon was cured.

While in the island of Leuce, Autoleon also saw Helen, who gave him a commission to Stesichorus. This poet had censured Helen in one of his poems and had become blind in consequence. Helen now sent him the message, that if he would recant, his sight should be restored to him. Stesichorus composed a poem in praise of Helen and recovered his sight.

Chamaeleon (philosopher)

Chamaeleon (or Chameleon; Greek: Χαμαιλέων; c. 350 – c. 275 BC), was a Peripatetic philosopher of Heraclea Pontica. He was one of the immediate disciples of Aristotle. He wrote works on several of the ancient Greek poets, namely:

περὶ Ἀνακρέοντος - On Anacreon

περὶ Σαπφοῦς - On Sappho

περὶ Σιμωνίδου - On Simonides

περὶ Θεσπίδος - On Thespis

περὶ Αἰσχύλου - On Aeschylus

περὶ Λάσου - On Lasus

περὶ Πινδάρου - On Pindar

περὶ Στησιχόρου - On StesichorusHe also wrote on the Iliad, and on Comedy (περὶ κωμῳδίας). In this last work he treated, among other subjects, of the dances of comedy. This work is quoted by Athenaeus by the title περὶ τῆς ἀρχαίας κωμῳδίας, which is also the title of a work by the Peripatetic philosopher Eumelus. It would seem also that he wrote on Hesiod, for Diogenes Laërtius says, that Chamaeleon accused Heraclides Ponticus of having stolen from him his work concerning Homer and Hesiod. The above works were probably both biographical and critical. He also wrote works entitled περὶ θεῶν, and περὶ σατύρων, and some moral treatises, περι ἡδονῆς (which was also ascribed to Theophrastus), προτρεπικόν, and περι μέθης. Of all his works only a few fragments are preserved by Athenaeus and other ancient writers.


In Greek mythology, Crataeis (Κραται-ίς, -ίδος, alt. Crataiis) is, by some accounts, the mother of Scylla. In Homer's Odyssey, Circe tells Odysseus:

"Nay, row past with all thy might, and call upon Crataiis, the mother of Scylla, who bore her for a bane to mortals. Then will she keep her from darting forth again." (Translation by A. T. Murray)Several authors follow Homer in assigning Crataeis as the mother of Scylla, see Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.749; Apollodorus, E7.20; Servius on Virgil Aeneid 3.420; and schol. on Plato, Republic 588c. Neither Homer nor Ovid mention a father for Scylla, but Apollodorus says that the father was either Trienus (Triton?) or Phorcus (a variant of Phorkys), similarly the Plato scholiast, perhaps following Apollodorus, gives the father as Tyrrhenus or Phorcus, while Eustathius on Homer, Odyssey 12.85 gives the father as Triton.

Other authors have Hecate as Scylla's mother. The Hesiodic Megalai Ehoiai gives Hecate and Phorbas as the parents of Scylla, while Acusilaus says that Scylla's parents were Hecate and Phorkys (so also schol. Odyssey 12.85). Perhaps trying to reconcile these conflicting accounts, Apollonius of Rhodes says that Crataeis was another name for Hecate, and that she and Phorcys were the parents of Scylla. Likewise, Semos of Delos (FGrHist 396 F 22) says that Crataeis was the daughter of Hecate and Triton, and mother of Scylla by Deimos. Stesichorus (alone) names Lamia as the mother of Scylla, possibly the Lamia who was the daughter of Poseidon, while according to Hyginus, Scylla was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna.


In ancient Greek literature, an eidolon (plural: eidola or eidolons) (Greek εἴδωλον: "image, idol, double, apparition, phantom, ghost") is a spirit-image of a living or dead person; a shade or phantom look-alike of the human form. The concept of Helen of Troy's eidolon was explored both by Homer and Euripides. However, where Homer uses the concept as a free-standing idea that gives Helen life after death, Euripides entangles it with the idea of kleos, one being the product of the other. Both Euripides and Stesichorus, in their respective works concerning the Trojan Horse, claim that Helen was never physically present in the city at all.The concept of the eidola of the dead was explored in various literature regarding Penelope, who in later works was constantly laboring against the eidola of Clytamnestra and later Helen herself.Homer's use of eidola also extends to the Odyssey where, after the death of the suitors, Theoclymenos notes that he sees the doorway of the court filled with them.Walt Whitman's poem by the same name in 1876 used a much broader understanding of the term, expanded and detailed in the poem. In Whitman's use of the term we can see the use broaden to include the concept of an oversoul composed of the individual souls of all life and expanding to include the Earth itself and the hierarchy of the planets, Sun, stars and galaxy.

In Theosophy, the astral double or perispirit or kamarupa after death, before its disintegration is identified with the eidolon.


Epode, in verse, is the third part of an ode, which followed the strophe and the antistrophe, and completed the movement.At a certain point in time the choirs, which had previously chanted to right of the altar or stage, and then to left of it, combined and sang in unison, or permitted the coryphaeus to sing for them all, while standing in the centre. With the appearance of Stesichorus and the evolution of choral lyric, a learned and artificial kind of poetry began to be cultivated in Greece, and a new form, the epode-song, came into existence. It consisted of a verse of iambic trimeter, followed by a verse of iambic dimeter, and it is reported that, although the epode was carried to its highest perfection by Stesichorus, an earlier poet, Archilochus, was really the inventor of this form.The epode soon took a firm place in choral poetry, which it lost when that branch of literature declined. But it extended beyond the ode, and in the early dramatists we find numerous examples of monologues and dialogues framed on the epodical system. In Latin poetry the epode was cultivated, in conscious archaism, both as a part of the ode and as an independent branch of poetry. Of the former class, the epithalamia of Catullus, founded on an imitation of Pindar, present us with examples of strophe, antistrophe and epode; and it has been observed that the celebrated ode of Horace, beginning Quem virum aut heroa lyra vel acri, possesses this triple character.


In Greek mythology, Geryon ( or ; also Geryone; Greek: Γηρυών, genitive: Γηρυόνος), son of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe, the grandson of Medusa and the nephew of Pegasus, was a fearsome giant who dwelt on the island Erytheia of the mythic Hesperides in the far west of the Mediterranean. A more literal-minded later generation of Greeks associated the region with Tartessos in southern Iberia. Geryon was often described as a monster with human faces.


The Geryoneis is a fragmentary poem, written in Ancient Greek by the lyric poet Stesichorus. Composed in the 6th century BC, it narrates an episode from the Heracles myth in which the hero steals the cattle of Geryon, a three-bodied monster with a human face.


Hecuba (; also Hecabe, Hécube; Ancient Greek: Ἑκάβη Hekábē, pronounced [hekábɛ͜ɛ]) was a queen in Greek mythology, the wife of King Priam of Troy during the Trojan War, She had 19 children, who included major characters of Homer's Iliad such as the warriors Hector and Paris and the prophetess Cassandra. Two of them, Hector and Troilus are said to been born as a result of Hecuba's love to the god Apollo.


Himera (Greek: Ἱμέρα), was an important ancient Greek city of Sicily, situated on the north coast of the island, at the mouth of the river of the same name (the modern Grande), between Panormus (modern Palermo) and Cephaloedium (modern Cefalù). Its remains lie within the borders of the modern comune of Termini Imerese.


Ibycus (; Greek: Ἴβυκος; fl. 2nd half of 6th century BC) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet, a citizen of Rhegium in Magna Graecia, probably active at Samos during the reign of the tyrant Polycrates and numbered by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria in the canonical list of nine lyric poets. He was mainly remembered in antiquity for pederastic verses, but he also composed lyrical narratives on mythological themes in the manner of Stesichorus. His work survives today only as quotations by ancient scholars or recorded on fragments of papyrus recovered from archaeological sites in Egypt, yet his extant verses include what are considered some of the finest examples of Greek poetry. The following lines, dedicated to a lover, Euryalus, were recorded by Athenaeus as a famous example of amorous praise:

Εὐρύαλε Γλαυκέων Χαρίτων θάλος, Ὡρᾶν

καλλικόμων μελέδημα, σὲ μὲν Κύπρις

ἅ τ' ἀγανοβλέφαρος Πει-

θὼ ῥοδέοισιν ἐν θρέψαν.The rich language of these lines, in particular the accumulation of epithets, typical of Ibycus, is shown in the following translation:

Euryalus, offshoot of the blue-eyed Graces, darling of the lovely-haired Seasons, the Cyprian and soft-lidded Persuasion nursed you among rose-blossoms.This mythological account of his lover recalls Hesiod's account of Pandora, who was decked out by the same goddesses (the Graces, the Seasons and Persuasion) so as to be a bane to mankind—an allusion consistent with Ibycus's view of love as unavoidable turmoil.As is the case with many other major poets of ancient Greece, Ibycus became famous not just for his poetry but also for events in his life, largely the stuff of legend: the testimonia are difficult to interpret and very few biographical facts are actually known.

Lamia (daughter of Poseidon)

In Greek mythology, Lamia (; Ancient Greek: Λάμια),was a daughter of Poseidon, and mother, by Zeus, of the Libyan Sibyl. It was perhaps this Lamia who, according to Stesichorus, was the mother of Scylla.

Lille Stesichorus

The Lille Stesichorus is a papyrus containing a major fragment of poetry usually attributed to the archaic lyric poet Stesichorus, discovered at Lille University and published in 1976. It has been considered the most important of all the Stesichorus fragments, confirming his role as an historic link between genres as different as the epic poetry of Homer and the lyric poetry of Pindar. The subject matter and style are typical of his work generally but not all scholars have accepted it as his work. The fragment is a narrative treatment of a popular myth, involving the family of Oedipus and the tragic history of Thebes, and thus it sheds light on other treatments of the same myth, such as by Sophocles in Oedipus Tyrannos and Aeschylus in Seven Against Thebes. The fragment is significant also in the history of colometry since it includes lyric verses that have been divided into metrical cola, a practice usually associated with the later career of Aristophanes of Byzantium.


Mimnermus (Greek: Μίμνερμος Mímnermos) was a Greek elegiac poet from either Colophon or Smyrna in Ionia, who flourished about 630–600 BC. He was strongly influenced by the example of Homer yet he wrote short poems suitable for performance at drinking parties and was remembered by ancient authorities chiefly as a love poet. Mimnermus in turn exerted a strong influence on Hellenistic poets such as Callimachus and thus also on Roman poets such as Propertius, who even preferred him to Homer for his eloquence on love themes (see Comments by other poets below). His work was collected by Alexandrian scholars in just two "books" (relatively few compared for example with the twenty-six books for Stesichorus) and today only small fragments survive. The fragments confirm the ancient estimate of him as a "consummate poet" but also indicate that he was a "sturdier character" than the indulgent love poet he was assumed to be by various ancient commentators. Almost no reliable, biographical details have been recorded. One ancient account linked him romantically with a flute girl who subsequently gave her name, Nanno, to one of his two books.

Nine Lyric Poets

The Nine Lyric or Melic Poets were a canonical group of ancient Greek poets esteemed by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria as worthy of critical study. In the Palatine Anthology it is said that they established lyric song. They were:

Alcman of Sparta (choral lyric, 7th century BC)

Sappho of Lesbos (monodic lyric, c. 600 BC)

Alcaeus of Mytilene (monodic lyric, c. 600 BC)

Anacreon of Teos (monodic lyric, 6th century BC)

Stesichorus of Metauros (choral lyric, 7th century BC)

Ibycus of Rhegium (choral lyric, 6th century BC)

Simonides of Ceos (choral lyric, 6th century BC)

Bacchylides of Ceos (choral lyric, 5th century BC)

Pindar of Thebes (choral lyric, 5th century BC)In most Greek sources the word melikos (from melos, "song") is used to refer to these poets, but the variant lyrikos (from lyra, "lyre") became the regular form in both Latin (as lyricus) and in modern languages. The ancient scholars defined the genre on the basis of the musical accompaniment, not the content. Thus, some types of poetry which would be included under the label "lyric poetry," in modern criticism are excluded—namely, the elegy and iambus which were performed with flutes.

The Nine Lyric Poets are traditionally divided among those who primarily composed choral verses, and those who composed monodic verses. This division is contested by some modern scholars.Antipater of Thessalonica proposes an alternative canon of nine female poets.

Ode to Polycrates

Ode to Polycrates (also To Polycrates, 282a or S151) is an ancient Greek poem written by Ibycus and dedicated to Polycrates, tyrant of Samos. It was composed some time in the middle of the 6th century BC and displays close similarities to the work of Stesichorus.


A palinode or palinody is an ode in which the writer retracts a view or sentiment expressed in an earlier poem. The first recorded use of a palinode is in a poem by Stesichorus in the 7th century BC, in which he retracts his earlier statement that the Trojan War was all the fault of Helen. An important example of a palinode is that of Socrates in the Phaedrus in which his first major speech disparages the "mania" of Eros and its part in human affairs, while his second one (commonly known as the palinode of Socrates) praises Eros. As he says, "we must not let anyone disturb us or frighten us with the claim that you should prefer a friend who is in control of himself to one who is disturbed. Besides proving that point, if [the lover of speeches] is to win his case, our opponent must show that love is not sent by the gods as a benefit to a lover and his boy. And we, for our part, must prove the opposite, that this sort of madness is given us by the gods to ensure our greatest good fortune. It will be a proof that convinces the wise if not the clever."The word comes from the Greek παλινῳδία from πάλιν (palin, meaning 'back' or 'again') and ᾠδή ("song"); the Latin-derived equivalent "recantation" is an exact calque (re- meaning 'back or 'again' and cant- meaning 'sing').

It can also be a recantation of a defamatory statement in Scots Law.


In Greek mythology, Scylla ( SIL-ə; Greek: Σκύλλα, pronounced [skýl̚la], Skylla) was a legendary monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass dangerously close to Scylla and vice versa.

Scylla made her first appearance in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus and his crew encounter her and Charybdis on their travels. Later myth gave her an origin story as a beautiful nymph who gets turned into a monster.The strait where Scylla dwelled has been associated with the Strait of Messina between mainland Italy and Sicily, for example, as in Book Three of Virgil's Aeneid. The idiom "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being forced to choose between two similarly dangerous situations.

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