1. Of Samos, or, as he is more usually designated, of Amorgos, was the second, both in time and in reputation, of the three principal iambic poets of the early period of Greek literature, namely, Archilochus, Simonides, and Hipponax (Proclus, Chrestom.
7; Lucian. Pseudol. 2
The chief information which we have respecting him is contained in two articles of Suidas (s. vv. Σιμωνίδης
; the greater part of the latter article is obviously misplaced, and really refers to Simonides); from which we learn that his father's name was Crines, and that he was originally a native of Samos, whence, by a curious parallel to the history of Archilochus, he led a colony to the neighbouring island of Amorgos, one of the Cyclades or Sporades, where he founded three cities, Minoa, Aegialus, and Arcesine, in the first of which he fixed his own abode. (Comp. Strab. x. p.487
; Steph. Byz. s. v. Ἀμοργός
; Tzetz. Chil.
He is generally said to have been contemporary with Archilochus ; and the date assigned to him by the chronographers is Ol. 29. 1 or 3, B. C. 665/4 or 662/1 (Syncell. p. 213; Hieronym. apud A. Maium, Script. Vet.
vol. viii. p. 333; Clem. Alex. Strom.
vol. i. p. 333; Cyril. c. Julian.
vol. i. p. 12).
The statement of Suidas that he flourished 490 years after the Trojan War, would, according to the vulgar era, the epoch of Eratosthenes, place him at (1183 -- 490=) B. C. 693; or, according to the era of Democritus, at (1150 -- 490=) B. C. 660, which agrees with the chronographers. (See Clinton, F. H.
vol. i. s. aa.
712, 665, 662; and Welcker, as cited below.)
The works of Simonides, according to Suidas (s. v.
), consisted of an elegy in two books, and iambic poems; or, according to the other notice in Suidas (s. v. Σιμμίας
), iambic and other miscellaneous poems, and an Archaeology of the Samians
(ἀρχαιολογίαν τῶν Σαμίων
). From the comparison of these two passages, Welcker thinks that the elegiac poem mentioned in the first is the ἀρχαιολογία τῶν Σαμίων
of the second, and not, as others have thought, a gnomic poem, at least not chiefly such.
The gnomic poetry of that early period was so highly esteemed and so often quoted, that it is scarcely credible that if so celebrated a poet as Simonides had written elegiac verses of that species, not one of them should have been preserved. All his gnomic poetry is iambic. On the other hand, it was not uncommon for the early poets to write metrical histories of their native countries or cities, and such a history of Samos, chiefly of a genealogical character, had been composed in hexameter verse, long before the time of Simonides, by Asius, the son of Amphiptolemus.
It is therefore quite natural, Welcker contends, that when the elegiac metre had been established, Simonides should have applied it to the same subject, intermixing perhaps in his narrations counsels and opinions on public affairs , and thus forming a poem akin to the Eunomia
of Tyrtaeus or the Ionia
The existing fragments of his iambic poems have a decidedly gnomic character, and afford evidence that he was reckoned among the sages who preceded the Seven Wise Men. To confirm this view by parallel examples, Welcker quotes the poems of Xenophanes, of Colophon, on his native city and on the colonization of Elea, and other similar works of other poets.
It was, however, the iambic poems of Simonides that made his reputation.
These were of two species, gnomic and satirical. His verses of the latter class were very similar to those of Archilochus, inasmuch as his sarcasms were directed at a particular person. named Orodoecides, who has thus obtained a celebrity like that conferred upon Lycambes by Archilochus, and upon Bupalus by Hipponax (Lucian. l.c.
); although the unlucky reputation of Orodoecides was by no means so extensive as that of Lycambes and Bupalus, who became a pair of proverbial victims, just as their persecutors, Archilochus and Hipponax, are spoken of together as great satirists; whence Welcker infers that, in this department of iambic poetry, the fame of Simonides was by no means equal to that of Archilochus and Hipponax.
But, whatever defect there may have been in the pungency of his satire, it was amply compensated by the wisdom and force of his gnomic poetry, in which he embodied sentiments and precepts, referring to human character and the affairs of human life, in language, in which antique simplicity was combined with fitness and fulness of expression, intermixed occasionally with that quiet irony or satire, in which he seems to have succeeded better than in personal sarcasm.
This part of his poetry Welcker considers to have formed, without doubt, a continuous series of verses, in the shape of precepts addressed to youths in general, or to any individual youth, not, like the precepts of Hesiod, to some particular one.
A great part of the poem referred, as in Hesiod, Theognis, and Phocylides, to the relations of men to the other sex, and the characteristics of women are described in that satirical vein, which prevails in these and other poets, but the spirit of which was, perhaps, not so much to disparage the whole sex as to exalt the standard by which they should be judged, especially with regard to industry, economy, and the other household virtues. "For this purpose he makes use of a contrivance which, at a later time, also occurs in the gnomes of Phocylides ; that is, he derives the various, though generally bad, qualities of women from the variety of their origin; by which fiction he gives a much livelier image of female characters, than he could have done by a mere enumeration of their qualities.
The uncleanly woman is formed from the swine ; the cunning woman, equally versed in good and evil, from the fox; the talkative woman, from the dog; the lazy woman, from the earth; the unequal and changeable, from the sea; the woman who takes pleasure only in eating and in sensual delights, front the ass; the perverse woman from the weasel; the woman fond of dress, from the horse ; the ugly and malicious woman, from the ape ; there is only one race created for the benefit of men, the woman sprung from the bee, who is fond of her work, and keeps faithful watch over her house." (Müller, Hist. of the Lit. of Anc. Greece.
vol. i. p. 140.)
The greater number, however, of the passages relating to women in the fragments of Simonides seem to belong to his satiric, rather than his gnomic iambics.
It is doubtful whether he wrote at all in choliambic verse. One line of that metre is preserved, but an easy alteration of the last word converts it into an ordinary iambic verse; and there is only one other fragment which has any appearance of being choliamrbic (See Meineke, Choliamb. Poes. Graec.
pp. 134, 135.) Like the other early iambic poets, Simonides also used the trochaie metre, which is most closely connected in rhythm with the iambic. (Grammat. apud Censorin. 100.9.) Besides their poetical interest, the fragments of Simonides are very valuable for the numerous forms of the old Ionic dialect which they preserve : the principal examples are collected by Welcker.
Confusion between Simonides of Amorgos and Simonides of Ceos
Great confusion has been made by modern scholars, as well as ancient grammarians, between Simonides of Amorgos and his more celebrated namesake of Ceos.
The only safe rule for distinguishing them is to ascribe all the iambic and satiric fragments to the former, and all the lyric remains to the latter, except some few which belong perhaps to a younger Simonides of Ceos. (See below, No. 3.)
As to the numerous elegiac and epigrammatic remains, which we possess under the name of Simonides, there is no good reason for assigning any of them to Simonides of Amorgos, although, as we have seen, he is said to have written an elegy.
The fragments of Simonides of Amorgos have been edited, intermixed with those of Simonides of Ceos, and almost without an attempt to distinguish them, in the chief collections of the Greek poets; in Brunck's Analecta. vol. i. pp. 120, foll.
; and in Jacobs's Anth. Graec. vol. i. pp. 57, foll. There is an edition of the fragment on women, by G. D. Koeler, with a prefatory epistle by Heyne, Gotting. 1781, 8vo. But the first complete edition was that of Welcker, published in the Rheinisches Museum for 1835, 2nd series, vol. iii. pp. 353, foll.
, and also separately, under the title of Simonidis Amorgini Iambi quae supersunt, Bonn. 1835, 8vo. The text of the fragments is also contained in Schneidewin's Delectus Poesis Graecorum, pp. 196, foll.
, in Bergk's Poctae Lyrici Graeci, pp. 500, foll.
, and the Poetae Gnomici, in the Tauchnitz classics.
Welcker, l.c. ;
Schneidewin, in Zimmermann's Zeitschrift für Alterth.
1836, pp. 365, foll.; Müller, Hist. Lit. l.c. ;
Ulrici, Gesch. d. Hell. Dichtk.
vol. ii. pp. 304-307; Bode, vol. ii. p. 1, pp. 318-327 ; Bernhardy's Grundriss d. Griech. Litt.
vol. ii. pp. 339-341.)