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Mitylene has produced famous men: in early times, Pittacus, one of the Seven Wise Men; and the poet Alcaeus, and his brother Antimenidas, who, according to Alcaeus, won a great struggle when fighting on the side of the Babylonians, and rescued them from their toils by killing “a warrior, the royal wrestler
”(as he says),“who was but one short of five cubits in height.
1And along with these flourished also Sappho, a marvellous woman; for in all the time of which we have record I do not know of the appearance of any woman who could rival Sappho, even in a slight degree, in the matter of poetry. The city was in those times ruled over by several tyrants because of the dissensions among the inhabitants; and these dissensions are the subject of the Stasiotic2 poems, as they are called, of Alcaeus. And also Pittacus3 was one of the tyrants. Now Alcaeus would rail alike at both Pittacus and the rest, Myrsilus and Melanchrus and the Cleanactidae and certain others, though even he himself was not innocent of revolutionary attempts; but even Pittacus himself used monarchy for the overthrow of the oligarchs, and then, after overthrowing them, restored to the city its independence. Diophanes the rhetorician was born much later; but Potamon, Lesbocles, Crinagoras, and Theophanes the historian in my time. Theophanes was also a statesman; and he became a friend to Pompey the Great, mostly through his very ability, and helped him to succeed in all his achievements; whence he not only adorned his native land, partly through Pompey and partly through himself, but also rendered himself the most illustrious of all the Greeks. He left a son, Marcus Pompey, whom Augustus Caesar once set up as Procurator of Asia, and who is now counted among the first of the friends of Tiberius. The Athenians were in danger of suffering an irreparable disgrace when they voted that all Mitylenaeans from youth upwards should be slain, but they changed their minds and their counter-decree reached the generals only one day before the order was to be executed.

1 Alcaeus Fr. 33 (Bergk)

2 Seditious.

3 Reigned 589-579 B.C.

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load focus Greek (1877)
load focus English (H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., 1903)
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