469 GREECE-LANGUAGE, LITERATURE, AND ART,
Pisistratus was tyrant of Athens the work was undertaken at his instance and under his
patronage. The Athenian grammarian Onomacritus was appointed to revise and arrange both of
the poems, rejecting what appeared to him to be the interpolations of weaker bards and the
manifest corruptions of the ignorant. Thus were the two greatest epics of the world, flung
from the vigorous imagination of the Blind Being of Ionia, preserved and transmitted to
after ages in nearly the forms which now they bear. Of the time at which Homer flourished
only so much is known as that he lived in the mysterious epoch where history and fable
blended, and when Greece was just beginning to awake to a consciousness of her power.
Around Homer grew Up a race of bards called the "Cyclic poets"-like unto himself, but of
less repute. They were like the group of English writers known as the Shakespearean
dramatists, clustering about a greater light, in whose effulgence they were lost. Not only
have the works of the Cyclic bards perished, but most of themselves have not even left
behind the legacy of a name.
After the old Ionian hard came HESIOD. He was a Dorian, who flourished about a century
after Homer, and dwelt at the foot of Mount Helicon, near Delphi. His fond countrymen set
up their poet in rivalry with his great predecessor, and even invented a fiction that the
two had once contested for the- palm in song and that the award had been made to Hesiod.
But the story was an impossibility, both in time and fact. The subjects selected by the
Dorian hard were the fables of the gods. Instead of the stirring strifes of heroes he
recited the history of the national religion. He also collected and reduced to verse the
practical and proverbial wisdom of the people, in a rather tedious didactic poem called
Works and Days. Between these productions and the living pictures of Homer there is, in
both subject and treatment, the greatest possible contrast. Neither in Hesiod, their
master hard, nor in his successors, did the Boeotian school in Grecian literature ever
approximate the excellence and breadth of the Ionic and Attic authors.
After the epic-which ceased to be cultivated from the epoch of Homer and Hesiod -the next
kind of Greek poetry which appeared was the LYRIC. In the form of elegy it became as the
heroic songs of the masters. The elegy, like the epic, took its rise among the Ionian
Greeks of Asia Minor. To them it seems to have been suggested by the ulgos of the
Phrygians. It was primarily a song of wailing, to be chanted with the accompaniment of a
flute. Among the Greeks, however, the elegy took a wider range, and included in its
subjects the stirring themes of patriotism and war. Even love and conviviality were made
elegiac by the Hellenic bards, who, in alternate hexameters and pentameters, chanted the
fiery charms of passion and the joys of the festival.
It was in the seventh century B. C. that the elegy of the Greeks achieved its greatest
triumphs. Not infrequently the gravest affairs of state, the policy of cities, the conduct
of war, were determined by a song. Thus the old decrepit TYRT^EUS, who was, in answer to
an oracular call, sent in derision by the Athenians to be a leader of the Spartans, fired
them to a pitch of unprecedented enthusiasm by a battle-lyric composed for the occasion.
CALLINUS of Ephesus in like manner inspired his countrymen in their war with the
Magnesians. SOLON himself disdained not the composition of a poem by which he induced the
men of Athens to reconquer Salamis. The lyrics of THEOGNIS of Megara were collected and
taught as a manual of wisdom and virtue. The praises of those who fell at Marathon .were
sung in immortal strains by SIMONIDES of Chios, while the poems of MIMNERMOS exalt the
fleeting joys of life. as the fairest and best to which mortality may aspire.
The next development of Greek verse- also lyric--was the IAMBIC or personal poetry. For
the old Hellenic hard did not forbear to assail his enemy with caustic words as well as
spears and javelins. This type of poetry seems to have been invented by ARCHILOCUS, who,
taking advantage of the license conceded to all at the festival of Demeter to indulge in
personal mockery and jests, introduced a new style of verse,