), the fifth lyric poet in the Alexandrine canon, was a native of Rhegium. One writer calls him a Messenian, no doubt because the survivors of the second Messenian War formed a considerable portion of the population of Rhegium. His father's name is differently stated, as Phytius, Polyzelus, Cerdas, Eelidas, but Phytius is probably the right name.
The best part of his life was spent at Samos, at the court of Polycrates, about Ol. 60, B. C. 540. Suidas erroneously places him twenty years earlier, in the time of Croesus and the father of Polycrates. We have no further accounts of his life, except the well-known story, about which even some doubt has been raised, of the manner of his death. While travelling through a desert place near Corinth, he was attacked by robbers and mortally wounded, but before he died he called upon a flock of cranes that happened to fly over him to avenge his death. Soon afterwards, when the people of Corinth were assembled in the theatre, the cranes appeared, and as they hovered over the heads of the spectators, one of the murderers, who happened to be present, cried out involuntarily, " Behold the avengers of Ibycus:" and thus were the authors of the crime detected.
The phrase αἱ Ἰβύκου γέρανοι
passed into a proverb. (Suid.; Antip. Sid. Epig.
78, apud Brunck, Anal.
vol. ii. p. 27; Plut. de Garrul.
The argument against this account of the poet's death, adduced by Schneidewin from another epigram in the Anthology (Brunck, Anal.
vol. iii. p. 262), which seems to imply that Ibycus was buried at Rhegium, is answered by reference to the prevailing practice of erecting cenotaphs to the memory of great men, especially in their native place.
The story at all events proves one thing, namely, that Ibycus was loved as well as admired by his contemporaries, who therefore thought that he ought to be dear to the gods.
His poetry was chiefly erotic, and partook largely of the impetuosity of his character.
The charge of παιδεραστία
is brought against him above all other erotic poets. (Cic. Tusc.
4.33.) Others of his poems were of a mythical and heroic character, but some of these also were partially erotic.
In his poems on heroic subjects he very much resembled Stesichorus, his immediate predecessor in the canon.
In his dialect, as well as in the character of his poetry, there was a mixture of the Doric and Aeolic. Suidas mentions seven books of his lyric poems, of which only a few fragments now remain.
The best edition of the fragments is that of Schneidewin. (Schneid. Ibyci Carm. Reliq., with an introductory Epistle from K. O. Müller, Gotting. 1835, 8vo.
; Schneid. Delect. Poes. Eleg.
; Bergk, Frag. Poet. Lyr. Graec.
vol. ii. p. 350 ; Welcker, Rhein. Mus.
1832, vol. iii. p. 401, Kleine Schriften,
vol. i. p. 100; Bode, Ulrici, Gesch. d. Hellen. Dichtkunst ;
Müller, Bernhardy, Gesch. d. Hell. Lit.