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There was a certain Polybius, completely uneducated and ill-spoken, who said, “The emperor has honored me with Roman citizenship.” To which Demonax responded, “If only he'd made you a Greek rather than a Roman.”:
Lucian of Samosata, Life of Demonax

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text:phocylides_poems

Elegy and Iambus. with an English Translation by. J. M. Edmonds. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. London. William Heinemann Ltd. 1931. 1.

Phocylides: Poems

“Phocylides: —Of Miletus, a philosopher, contemporary with Theognis. Both flourished 1047 years after the Trojan War, their date being the 59th Olympiad (544-1 B.C.).1 Phocylides wrote epic and elegiac verse, counsels or maxims, entitled by some authorities Heads or Chapters . They are taken from the Sibylline Books.”

Suidas Lexicon


“Archilochus may be blamed for his subject-matter, Parmenides for his versification, Phocylides for his poverty of expression, Euripides for his discursiveness, Sophocles for his inequality of style…. Yet each is praised for the peculiar power nature has given him to rouse and lead his hearers.”

Plutarch On Listening


“The familiarity of the ancients with music is at once clear from Homer, who, because all his poetry was for music, gives many lines that are ‘headless’ (with a short syllable for a long at the beginning), ‘weak’ (in the middle), and even ‘curtal’ (in the last or second last foot), without minding in the least; whereas Xenophanes, Solon, Theognis, and Phocylides, and also Periander the elegy-writer of Corinth, and indeed all of the others who do not put music to their poetry, always make their lines in strict accordance with the number and arrangement of the metrical units, and take care to avoid all lines of the above sorts.”

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner


“We are told by Chamaeleon in his book On Stesichorus that not only the poems of Homer but of Hesiod and Archilochus, and even of Mimnermus and Phocylides, were sung to music.”

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner


“I have seen Pompey here. He talked much of politics —of course, to judge by what he said (we must always say that of him ), with self-depreciation; running down Syria, turning up his nose at Spain —here again we must add to judge by what he said , and so, I think, we must whenever we speak of him, like a sort of ‘Thus also spake Phocylides.’”

Cicero Letters to Atticus


“Perhaps some of the work of the other poets might be called ‘popular,’2 giving counsel and exhortation to the generality of men, for instance, I take it, the poems of Phocylides and Theognis . . . whereas the poetry of Homer, etc.”

Dio Chrysostom Orations


“In proof of this we might adduce the poetry of Hesiod, Theognis, and Phocylides, whom they declare to have been the best counsellors in human life ever known, and yet choose to concern themselves rather with one another's follies than with these poets' exhortations.”

Isocrates To Nicocles


See also Dio Chrys. 36. 440, Steph. Byz. Μίλητος , Eust. Dion. Per. 823, Sch. Nic. Al. 448, A.P. 10. 117, Cram. A. P. 4. 376. 3.


Elegiac Poems

Another of the Sporades is the island o Leros . . .3

Thus also spake Phocylides —The Lerians are bad men, not one bad and another not, but all save Procles, and Procles is a Lerian.4

It seems that the natives of this island were under the reproach of ill-nature.

Strabo Geography


Epic Poems

5Aristophanes means by χρῆσται ‘creditors’ … Phocylides in his poems uses χρήστης in the ordinary sense, thus:

<:Thus also spake Phocylides —>: Be not the debtor of a bad man, or he will annoy thee with asking to be paid before his time.

Scholiast on Aristophanes Clouds


Phocylides: —

Thus also spake Phocylides —The tribes of women come of these four, the bitch, the bee, the savage-looking6 sow, and the long-maned mare; the mare's daughter sprightly, quick, gadabout, and very comely, the savage-looking sow's neither bad, belike, nor good, the bitch's tetchy and ill-mannered; and the bee's a good huswife who knows her work —and 'tis she, my friend, thou shouldst pray thou mayst get thee in delectable wedlock.

Stobaeus Anthology [censure of women, and also on marriage]


Phocylides: —

Thus also spake Phocylides —Of what advantage is high birth to such as have no grace either in words or in counsel?

Stobaeus Anthology [that high-born and worthy fathers do not always get children like themselves]


7In the same way, said I, you can take a brief example from the poetry of Phocylides, who is not one of those stringers-together of some long and continuous piece of versification like your friend who takes more than five thousand lines to recount a single battle, but writes pieces extending first and last to but two or three lines; indeed he prefixes8 his name to each sentiment he expresses, as believing it of serious import and great value —unlike Homer, who never names himself. You agree, do you not, that he had every right to prefix Phocylides to such a maxim or pronouncement as this:

Thus also spake Phocylides —A little state living orderly in a high place is stronger than a blockheaded Nineveh.9

Dio Chrysostom Orations


Muttering and to mutter : —These words are not to be rejected, but are Ionic. They are used, I know, by a very ancient writer, Phocylides of Miletus:

Thus also spake Phocylides —Comrade should consider with comrade what their fellow-townsmen mutter in their ears.

Phrynichus Introduction to Learning


Phocylides: —

If thou desirest riches, see that thou hast a fertile farm; for a farm, they say, is a horn of Amalthea.

Stobaeus Anthology [that husbandry is a good thing]


10From Phocylides: —

Take thy counsel at night; at night a man's wits are sharper; quiet is good for one that seeketh virtue.11

Orion of Thebes Anthology


Phocylides: —

Many that are of little wit seem to be wise if their walk be orderly.

Stobaeus Anthology [on being and seeming-to-be, and that we should not judge a man by what he says but what he is, because speech is superfluous when there is no action]


12The life of a philosopher is better than that of a man of affairs, but to the man who lacks the necessaries of existence it is not preferable.

Seek a living, and when thou hast a living, virtue.‘virtue’ included other excellence than moral

Aristotle Commonplaces “… for as Phocylides says:” Scholiast on the passage


And Phocylides says: —

When the cups go round at a drinking-bout we should quaff our wine quietly amid pleasant talk.

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner


13It is these which are securest in a state; neither are they themselves covetous of other men's goods like the poor, nor are others covetous of theirs as poor men's are of rich men's; and they run no risks, because they are neither the objects nor the authors of conspiracy. And this is why we may approve the wish of Phocylides:

Much advantage is theirs who are midmost, and midmost in a city would I be.

Aristotle Politics [on the middle-class]


14The poet Phocylides appears to me to give excellent advice when he says:

We should learn noble deeds when we are yet children.

Plutarch Education


15Let us then put up with the ridicule of the seeming-clever … for not only must we, as Phocylides says:

Make many mistakes16 in seeking to be good;

but also be much laughed at and despised . . .

Plutarch On Listening


17Moreover Phocylides, who calls the angels daimones or spirits, represents some of them as good and others as bad …:

But there must be spirits in the world, now these and now those, some <wont> to save men from coming ill …18

Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies


And that is why justice or righteousness so often appears to be the best of the virtues … and we have the saying:

Righteousness containeth the sum of all virtues.

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics


“This is by Theognis and runs thus (Theogn. 145-7), but it ranks as a proverb and is quoted as such by Theophrastus in Book I of his treatise On Characters , though in the first Book of his Ethics he quotes it as occurring in Phocylides, and it may well have been used by him; or else by both Phocylides and Theognis.”

Scholiast on the passage:


1 Jerome gives 534, Euseb. Arm. version 540

2 i.e. rather than suitable for a king

3 cf. Eust. and Dion. Perieg. 530, Paus. 7.4.2

4 the name Procles may be wrong; perh. ‘Patrocles,’ which some mss have; cf. Demodocus 2 n

5 cf. Suid. ἀπαιτέων, χρήστης , Liban. Ep. 1073

6 orig. meaning doubtful, but cf. Βλοσυρῶπις of the Gorgon Il. 11. 36; Brugmann connects doubtfully with Βλεμεαίνω ‘to glare,’ of the lion Il. 12. 42, of Hector Il. 8. 337; we should in any case beware of the modern idea of surpassing fleshiness; Greek pigs were, and are, allowed to roam, and not fattened artificially

7 cf. Ibid. 32. 457, Themist. 24. 307 c

8 lit. adds or puts to

9 N. was destroyed in 612 B.C.

10 cf. Tz. on Ar. Ran. 962 Rhein. Mus. 6. 616

11 ‘virtue’ included other excellence than moral

12 cf. Plat. Rep. 407 a, Diogen. 4.39, Liban. Ep. 1536

13 cf. Alex. Aphr. in Top. 116 a. 13, 14, 123 b. 23

14 cf. Mai Coll. Vat. 3. 198

15 cf. Cram. A.P. i. 166, Clem. Al. Str. 5. 140. 6

16 so Clement: Plut. ‘be often deceived,’ Cramer's Ined. (emended by B) ‘suffer much unwillingly’

17 cf. Euseb. Praep. Ev. 13. 687 c

18 a third line is lost

text/phocylides_poems.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/15 11:59 (external edit)