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εἴ τις ἐκλέξειε τῶν προεχόντων ποιητῶν τὰς καλουμένας γνώμας, ‘if one were to pick out the so-called maxims of our distinguished poets,’ i.e. if a collection of gnomic sayings (γνωμολογία) were made from well-known poets, i.e. from the tragic poets, as is clear from the contrast with the writings of the comic poets. In Latin we have a good example of a collection of sayings of this kind in the Sententiae of Publilius Syrus. ἐκεῖνοι: i.e. οἱ προέχοντες ποιηταί. κωμῳδίας τῆς φαυλοτάτης: Isocr. had a very poor opinion of contemporary comedy; cp. de Pace 14 δημοκρατίας οὔσης οὐκ ἔστι παρρησία πλὴν ἐνθάδε (i.e. in the Ecclesia) μὲν τοῖς ἀφρονεστάτοις καὶ μηδὲν ὑμῶν φροντίζουσιν, ἐν δὲ τῷ θεάτρῳ τοῖς κωμῳδοδιδας κάλοις. The reason of his dislike of the comic writers was probably the fact that they caricatured him; cp. Strattis, Comicorum Atticorum fragmenta, ed. Kock, vol. i, p. 713, and Aristophanes, ib., p. 563. τῶν οὕτω τεχνικῶς πεποιημένων, ‘such skilful compositions’; for τεχνικῶς see note on E. 73.
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