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Stesichorus, of Himera in Sicily, flourished towards the
The Oresteia of Stesichorus.
close of the seventh, and in the earller part of the sixth, century B.C.1. The Choral Lyric, which Alcman had already cultivated under the Dorian inspirations of Sparta, received a new development from Stesichorus. He applied it to those heroic legends which had hitherto been the peculiar domain of Epos. In style and in dialect, no less than in choice of themes, he was here essentially an epic poet employing the lyric form2. This character, and the popularity which he won by it, are significantly attested in the words of Simonides3,—‘Thus Homer and Stesichorus sang to the people.’ One of his most celebrated poems was that in which he told the story of Orestes (“Ὀρέστεια”). It was of large compass, being divided into at least two books or cantos4. The direct sources of information concerning it are meagre, consisting only of a few small fragments (less than twelve lines altogether), gleaned from the passing allusions of later writers. But archae-
Its probable outline.
ology comes to the aid of literature. The supplementary evidence of Greek art makes it possible to reconstruct, if not with certainty, at least with high probability, a partial outline of the once famous poem. This has been done by Carl Robert, in an essay on ‘The death of Aegisthus,’—one of the series of essays, entitled Bild und Lied, in which he brings archaeological illustration to bear upon the heroic myths5. The substance of his results may be briefly given as follows.

1 Apollodorus (ap. Hesychius) places his birth in Ol. 37 (630 B.C.) and his death in Ol. 56 (556 B.C.). Cp. Prof. Hans Flach, Geschichte der griechischen Lyrik (1884), p. 316.

2 Quintilian (10. 1. 62) describes him as “epici carminis oncra lyra sustinentem.

3 Frag. 53. 4 “οὕτω γὰρ Ὅμηρος ἠδὲ Στησίχορος ἄεισε λαοῖς”.

4 Gramm. ap. Bekker Anecd. II. p. 783, 14 “Στησίχορος δὲ ἐν δευτέρῳ Ὀρεστείας κ.τ.λ.

5 Bild und Lied: Archaeologische Beiträge zur Geschichte der griechischen Heldensage (Berlin, 1881). The fifth essay is ‘Der Tod des Aigisthos,’ pp. 149—191.

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