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On this page: Theognetus – Theognis

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THEOGNIS.

1 prize for wrestling at the Olympic games. His statue at Olympia is noticed by Pausanias, (Find. Pyih. viii. 50; Paus. vi. 9.) [E. E.]

THEOGNETUS (®e6yvt\ros). 1. Of Thes-saly, a poet, of unknown date, to whom some of the ancients ascribed the tepol \6yoi, which others attributed to Orpheus. (Suid. s. v. 5O/><£eu$ ; Fa­bric. Bill. Graec. vol. i. p. 161.)

2. An Athenian comic poet of the New Comedy, whose plays, entitled 4>dcr/j.a $) 3?i\dpyvpos, 4>iAo- SecrTroTos, and Kei/raupos, are mentioned by Sui- das, on the authority of Athenaeus. (Comp. Eudoc. p. 232.)- In Athenaeus himself we find no men­ tion of the Kezmivpos, but we have a fragment of ten lines from the <fuAo5e(r7roTos (Ath. xiv. p. 616, a.), and one of four lines from the «J?a0>ia •?} $i\dpyvpos. (Ath. iii. p. 104, b., xv. p. 671, a.) There is some reason to suppose that Plautus borrowed his Mos- tellaria from the latter play. (Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. ii. p. 500 ; Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec. vol. i. p. 487, vol. iv. p. 549.) [P. S.]

THEOGNIS (©eVyws). 1. Of Megara, an ancient elegiac and gnomic poet, whose reputed works form the most extensive collection of gnomic poetry, that has come down to us under any one name ; but, unfortunately, the form in which these remains exist is altogether unsatisfactory. Most of our information respecting the poet's life is derived from his writings.

He was a native of Megara, the capital of Me-garis (Harpocrat. s. v. ; Suid. s. «?.), not of Megara Hyblaea, in Sicily; as Harpocration (I. c.) justly argues from a line of his poetry (v. 783), in which he speaks of his going to Sicily, evidently as to a country which was not his native land, and as ap­pears also from other passages of his writings. (See especially vv. 773, foil.) Harpocration is, however, in error, when he charges Plato with having fallen into a mistake, in making Theognis a citizen of Megara in Sicily (Leg. i. p. 630, a.); for we can have no hesitation in accepting the explanation of the Scholiast on Plato, that Theognis was a native of Megara in Greece, but received also the citizen­ship as an honour from the people of Megara Hy­blaea, whom he is known to have visited, and for whom one of his elegies was composed, as is proved by internal evidence. From his own poems also we learn that, besides Sicily, he visited Eu-boea and Lacedaemon, and that in all these places he was hospitably received (vv. 783, foil.). The circumstances which led him to wander from his native city will presently appear.

The time at which Theognis flourished is ex­pressly stated by several writers as the 58th or 59th Olympiad, b. c. 548 or 544. (Cyrill. adv. Julian, i. p. 13, a., vii. p. 225, c. ; Euseb. Chron. ; Suid. s. v.). It is evident, from passages in his poems, that he lived till after the commencement of the Persian wars, c. c. 490. These statements may be reconciled, by supposing that he was about eighty at the latter date, and that he was born about B. c. 570. (Clinton, F. PI. s. a. 544.) Cyril (•/. c.) and Suidas (s. v. OwKuAiSrjs) make him contemporary with Phocylides of Miletus.

Both the life and writings of Theognis, like those of Alcaeus, are inseparably connected with the political events of his time and city. The little state of Megara had been for some time be­fore the poet's birth the scene of great political convulsions. After shaking off the yoke of Co­rinth, it had remained for a time under the nobles,

THEOGNIS.

until about the year b. c. 630, when Theagenes, placing himself at the head of the popular party, acquired the tyranny of the state, from which he was again driven by a counter revolution, about b. c. 600 [theagenes]. The popular party, into whose hands the power soon fell again, governed temperately for a time, but after­wards they oppressed the noble and rich, entering their houses, and demanding to eat and drink lux­uriously, and enforcing their demand when it was refused ; and at last passing a decree that the in­terest paid on money lent should be refunded (TraAii/rotfi'a, Plut. Quaest. Grace. 18, p. 295). They also banished many of the chief men of the city ; but the exiles returned, and restored the oligarchy. (Arist. Polit. v. 4. § 3.) Several such revolutions and counter-revolutions appear to have followed one another; but we are not informed of their dates. (Grote, Hist, of Greece, vol. iii. p. 60.) Theognis was born and spent his life in the midst of these convulsions, to which a large portion of his poetry relates, most of that portion having evidently been composed at a time when the oligarchical party was oppressed and in exile. To this party Theognis himself belonged, and in its fates lie shared. He was a noble by birth; and all his sympathies were with the nobles. They are, in his poems, the ayadol and eo-0Aoi, and the commons the KaKoi and SeiAot, terms which, in fact, at that period, were regularly used in this political sig­nification, and 'not in their later ethical meaning.* It would seem that, in that particular revolution, from which Theognis suffered, there had been a division of the property of the nobles, in which he lost his all, and was cast out as an exile, barely escaping with his life, " like a dog who throws every thing away in order to cross a torrent;" and that he had also to complain of treachery on the part of certain friends in whom he had trusted. In his verses he pours out his indignation upon his enemies,u whose black blood he would even drink." He laments the folly of the bad pilots by whom the vessel of the state had been often wrecked, and speaks of the common people with unmea­sured contumely. Amidst all these outbursts of passion, we find some very interesting descriptions of the social change which the revolution had ef­fected. It had rescued the country population from a condition of abject poverty and serfdom, and given them a share in the government. " Cyr-

* For a full illustration of the meanings of these words, see Welcker's Prolegomena ad Tkeogn., and an excellent note in Grote's History of Greece, vol. iii. p. 62 :—" The ethical meaning of these words is not absolutely unknown, yet rare, in Theognis: it gradually grew up at Athens, and became popularized by the Socratic school of phi­losophers as well as by the orators. But the early or political meaning always remained, and the fluctuation between the two has been.productive of frequent misunderstanding. Constant attention is necessary, when we read the expressions ol ayaQoi, 6<r0Ao}, JBeArjcrrol, KaXoKa-yaQol, xprnffro^ &c., or on the other hand, ol /ca/co}, Se/Aot, &c., to examine whether the context is such as to give to them the ethical or the political meaning." Mr. Grote also illustrates the similar use of boni, mali, optimates and optimus quisque, from Sallust (Hist. Frag. * p. 935, Cort.) and Cicero (De Rep. i. 34, pro Sext. 45),

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