previous next


Τιμοκρέων), of Rhodes, a lyric poet, celebrated for the bitter and pugnacious spirit of his works, and especially for his attacks on Themistocles and Simonides. From fragments of his poetry, which are preserved by Plutarch (Themist. 21), it appears that he was a native of Ialysus in Rhodes, whence he was banished on the then common charge of an inclination towards Persia (μηδισμός); and in this banishment he was left neglected by Themistocles, who had formerly been his friend, and his connection by the ties of hospitality. According to Plutarch, the influence of Themistocles was positively employed to procure the banishment of Timocreon : but from the words of the poet himself, the offence seems to have amounted only to his neglecting to procure Timocreon's recall from exile, when he obtained that favour for other political fugitives. This distinction Timocreon ascribes to pecuniary corruption; and, in another passage quoted by Plutarch (ibid.) he insinuates that Themistocles was not free from the guilt of the same political crime for which he himself was suffering. It is to be observed that Timocreon does not deny the charge brought against him, but he even admits it, unless the words
οὐκ ἄρα Τιμοκρέων μοῦνος ὃς Μήδοισιν ὅρκια τέμνει

are to be construed hypothetically. According to the statement of Thrasymachus (apud Ath. x. p. 416a.) he was at one time living at the Persian court. Plutarch also tells us that after the exile of Themistocles, Timocreon attacked him still more violently in an ode, the opening lines of which call on the " Muse to confer fame upon this strain throughout Greece, as is fitting and just." Hence it follows that Timocreon was still flourishing after B. C. 471.

The three fragments thus referred to by Plutarch constitute the greater part of the extant remains of Timocreon; and hence it may be conjectured that poetry was not the business of his life, but only the accidental form in which he uttered the violent emotions which political misfortunes and personal wrongs would naturally excite in a man of great vigour of mind as well as body. For that such was his constitution of body appears from the fact that he was an athlete in that combination of the contests which required the greatest strength, namely the pentathlon (Ath. x. p. 415f.). Thrasymachus (l.c.) relates a specimen, which was exhibited at the Persian court, of Timocreon's prodigious strength, and of the voracity by which he sustained it; and hence, as well as from the satyric spirit of his poetry, is derived the point of that epigram which, according to Athenaeus (l.c.), was inscribed upon his tomb :--

Πολλὰ πιὼν, καὶ πολλὰ φαγὼν καὶ πολλὰ κάκ᾽ εἰπὼν
ἀνθρώπους, κεῖμαι Τιμοκρέων Ῥόδιος.

If, as modern scholars generally suppose, this epigram was written by Simonides, it does not necessarily follow that Timocreon died before Simonides ; for an epitaph, as a vehicle of satire on a living person, is a species of wit of which we have many examples in the history of poetry, both ancient and modern. For the fact of the rivalry between Simonides and Timocreon, we have the testimony of Diogenes Laertius (2.46), and of Suidas; and the Greek Anthology contains an epigram by Timocreon (Anth. Pal. 13.31), “Κηΐα με προσῆλθε φλυαρία οὐκ ἐθέλοντα.
οὐκ ἐθέλοντά με προσῆλθε Κηΐα φλυαρία
” which is evidently a parody on the following epigram of Simonides (Anth. Pal. 13.30),

Μοῦσά μοι Ἀλκμήνης καλλισφύρου υἱὸν ἄειδε
υἱὸν Ἀλκμήμης ἄειδε Μοῦσά μοι καλλισφύρου.

The attacks of Timocreon on his contemporaries have led Suidas, or the writer whom he follows, into the erroneous statement, that he was a comic poet of the Old Comedy, and that he wrote comedies against Themistocles and Simonides; although in the very same article we have another account of these attacks, evidently from a better source, in which the poem against Themistocles is expressly called lyric (ἐμμελοῦς). In another passage of Suidas (s. v. σκόλιον), he is made an epic poet (ἐποποιός); a mistake borrowed from a passage in the Scholia on Aristophanes (Ran. 1302), where, however, the error is manifest, as the quotation made is from a scolion by Timocreon; and, in another passage of the Scholia (Acharn. 532), where the same quotation is made, and of which indeed the former passage seems to be merely a transcript, Timocreon is rightly designated μελοποιός. The quotation made in these passages consists of two lines from a scolion on the mischiefs caused by riches, in which the poet utters the wish " that blind Plutus had never appeared upon earth, neither upon the sea, nor on the mainland, but had had Tartarus and Acheron for his abode." We have also some lines, which Hephaestion (p. 71) quotes, as an example of the Ionic a Minore Dimeter Catalectic or Timocreontic metre, from the commencement of what appears to have been a Sybaritic apologue, namely

Σικελὸς κομψὸς ἀνήρ
ποτὶ τὰν μητέῤ ἔφα,
which are also referred to by Plato (Gorg. p. 493a.), where we have an indication of the popularity of Timocreon's poems at Athens, although later writers condemned the moral spirit of his compositions (Aristeid. vol. ii. p. 380, μηδὲ Τιμοκρέοντος τοῦ σχετλίου πρᾶγμα ποιῶμεν and the sober judgment of modern criticism is that he gave proofs of a high degree of talent, which he abused through want of character and repose. The fragments already referred to comprise all his extant remains, except a single pentameter, quoted by Hephaestion (p. 4) from his Epigrams, and two references, which Diogenianus (Praef. pp. 179,180, ed. Schneidewin) makes to his works. There is also a chorus in the Wasps of Aristophanes (1060, foll.), which, the Scholiast tells us, on the authority of Didymus, is a parody on an ode by Timocreon. (Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. ii. pp. 144, 159, 504, vol. iv. p. 498, vol. viii. p. 635; Böckh, Prooem. Aest. Lect. Berol. 1833 ; Bernhardy, Grundriss d. Griech. Litt. vol. ii. pp. 542-544; Ulrici; Bode; Brunck, Anal. vol. i. p. 148; Jacobs, Anth. Graec. vol. i. p. 80, vol. xiii. p. 962; Schneidewin, Delect. Poes. Graec. pp. 427-431; Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Graec. pp. 807-810 ; Clinton, F. H. vol. ii. s. a. 471).


hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
471 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: