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“Theognis:—(11) A Megarian of Megara in Sicily; flourished in the 59th Olympiad (544-1 B.C.)1; he wrote an Elegy on the Syracusans saved in the Siege, Maxims in 2800 elegiac verses, and to his bosom-friend Cyrnus a Gnomology or collection of maxims in elegiacs2 and other exhortations, all in the Epic dialect. Theognis wrote exhortations, but, scattered throughout these, foul and paederastic love-poems and other pieces repulsive to the virtuous life.3 (2) A very frigid writer of Tragedy, one of the Thirty Tyrants, nicknamed Chion or Snow . There is also a poet Theognis who was of Megara.4Suidas Lexicon
“We too have a poet-witness, namely Theognis, a citizen of the Sicilian Megara, who says ‘In a sore dissension, Cyrnus, a trusty man is to be reckoned against gold and silver.’” Plato Laws
“There was much controversy in ancient times about Theognis and this statement about him. Some authorities aver that he was of the Attic Megara. This is the view of Didymus, who attacks Plato for misrepresenting the facts. Others make him a Megarian of Sicily. But even if he were not of Sicily, the present passage does him no wrong, but the reverse; for the speaker shows no bias, Athenian as he is, on behalf of an Athenian, but although his object is to compare him with an Athenian, namely Tyrtaeus, he has kept to the truth in deciding between them, and preferred Theognis though a foreigner. And why should not Theognis have been of this Megara and then have gone to Sicily as this statement implies and become a citizen-by-law of the Sicilian Megara, just as Tyrtaeus became a Spartan?” Scholiast on the passage
“Megara:—A city in the Isthmus, between the Peloponnese on the one side and Attica and Boeotia on the other. ... Thence came Theognis the writer of the Exhortations .5Stephanus of Byzantium Lexicon
“I do not think that every kind of poetry is suitable for a king any more than every kind of clothing. For my part I should choose him other poems —drinking-songs, love-songs, eulogies of winning athletes and horses, dirges for the dead, and jests or lampoons like those of the comedy-writers and Archilochus; and perhaps some of them might be called demotic or popular songs, those which give counsel and exhortation to the common sort of men, like those of Phocylides, say, or Theognis.” Dio Chrysostom Orations
“Soc. And do you know, not only you and others who are politicians sometimes believe that virtue is teachable and sometimes not, but the poet Theognis is just as inconsistent? —Men. Why, in what passage? —Soc. In the Elegiacs,6 where he says: ( contrasts )7 Theognis 33-6 with 435, 434, 436-8).” Plato Meno
“Proof of this might be had from the poetry of Hesiod, Theognis, and Phocylides, whom they declare to have been the best possible counsellors upon human life and yet choose to concern themselves rather with one another's follies than with their exhortations. Moreover, if one were to pick out from the really outstanding poets the maxims, as they are called, to which they give their highest praise, they would treat them with the same neglect; for they would sooner listen to a third-rate comedy than to these high products of literary art.” Isocrates To Nicocles

“From Xenophon's treatise On Theognis :8—‘These are the lines of Theognis of Megara’: This poet's theme is simply the virtues and vices of mankind, and the poem9 is a work on man just like the treatise on horsemanship which might be written by a horseman. The beginning10 of it therefore seems to me to be quite as it should be: the author begins with11 the question of breeding or good birth, believing, no doubt, that nothing can be good of its kind, whether man or any other creature, unless its progenitors are good. And that is why he chose to do with men as he would with the other animals, which we do not keep without consideration, but give each kind the particular skilled attention which will produce the finest strain. This is proved by the following lines: (183-90). The meaning of these verses is that men do not know how to produce their kind properly, and the result is that the human race is not so good as it might be because the good is always mingled with the bad. But the generality of men take these lines as proving12 that the poet accuses his fellowmen of busying themselves in vain matters, and of knowing13 how to make money compensate for low-birth and viciousness. My own view is that the poet is accusing them of ignorance of the nature of their own lives.14

Stobaeus Anthology

“Now if words were sufficient to make a man a capable citizen —to quote Theognis —‘they would receive,’ quite rightly, ‘much and great wages’ and it would be necessary to furnish oneself with a supply of them. . . .” Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics

“The man who declared his own opinion before the God at Delos, recorded it upon the entrance of the temple of Leto, separating things which all belong together, the good and the beautiful ( or honourable) and the sweet, writing: “The fairest thing's uprightness, health the best, To have our heart's desire the pleasantest


Aristotle Eudemian Ethics

“And we have the proverb ‘Righteousness containeth the sum of all virtue.’15Aristotle Nichomachean Ethics

“The Epic verse of Empedocles and Parmenides, the Venomous Bites of Nicander and the Gnomologies of Theognis are works which borrow from poetry its metre and dignity as it might be a carriage, in order to avoid the necessity of going afoot.16

Plutarch How the Young should listen to Poetry

“Witty too is the rejoinder of Bion to Theognis when he said ‘Your victim of Penury can neither say nor do aught of any account, and his tongue is tied.' ‘How then’ asked Bion ‘can a poor man like you bore us to death with such a flow of nonsense?’” Plutarch How the Young should listen to Poetry
“Hermes and Plutus (Wealth): —H. I know quite a number of them who were so lovesick for you that they took and threw themselves ‘into the abysmal sea or over sheer precipices’ because they thought you disdained them, though really you had never seen them at all.” Lucian Timon

“ His writings are current in ten volumes . . the 2nd volume containing . . On Righteousness and Courage ; a hortative work in three Books, and Concerning Theognis , making a fourth and fifth.

Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers [Antisthenes]

“Far worse is he who says that it were a good thing ‘never to have been born; failing this, to pass as soon as one may the gates of Death.’ For if he believes this, why does he not depart this life?” Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers [Epicurus]

“But nowadays people make a pretence of sacrificing to the Gods, and gathering their friends and intimates for the sacrifice, proceed to curse their children, abuse their wives, make their servants weep, and threaten all and sundry —you might almost say that they cried with Homer ‘Now hie ye to your meal that we may battle join,’ taking to heart the words of the >author of the Cheiron, Pherecrates, Nicomachus the metrician, or whoever it was: “Nor you, when you invite a friend to dine, Be wroth when in he comes: that is ill-bred. Rather be glad and make glad at your ease.

” Nowadays they do not remember the whole passage, but learn by heart the lines which follow and which are all a parody of the Great Eoiai ascribed to Hesiod: “But if we sacrifice and call in friends We are angered if one comes, neglect him there And wish him further. Somehow advised of this, He dons his shoes; whereat another guest Cries ‘Off already? do drink just a drop; Take off his shoes again’; and then the host, Wroth at the interruption, quotes the lines ‘Stay none, Simonides, that will not bide, ‘Nor wake the slumbering.’17 Are not we too prone To say such things when a friend's come to dine?

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

“Xenophanes, Solon, Theognis, Phocylides, and indeed Periander the elegy-writer of Corinth, and all the other poets who do not put music to their poems, make their lines complete in the number and arrangement of the metrical units and take care that none shall be ‘headless’ or ‘weak’ or ‘curtal.’18Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
“. . . worn by the difficulties of dreaded Poverty, for fear of which the wise old poet Theognis advises us to cast ourselves into the sea.” Ammianus Marcellinus History
“What I mean is, that we have great numbers of writers of poems in hexameters, triameters, and all the rest of the -meters as they call them, some of whom are out for a serious object and others to raise a laugh. Now an enormous majority of people declare that properly educated children must be brought up on these writers and stuffed full of them, becoming well-read and deeply-learned by getting whole poets by heart. Some people, on the other hand, make summaries and collect certain passages complete in themselves and claim that these must be committed to memory by any child of ours that is to get virtue and wisdom from width of experience and depth of knowledge.” Plato Lans

See also references to citations as they occur below, Jul. ap. Cyr. c. Jul. 7. 224 Sp., and Com. Adesp. 461K.

1 cf. Euseb. Cyrill. (both 548), Chron. Pas. (c. 552)

2 there is prob. some displacement and repetition hereabouts

3 the last sentence prob. comes from a different source

4 cf. Phot. Lex. Κύρνος, Θέογνις , Sch. Thuc. 2. 43

5 cf. Harp. Θέογνις

6 this suggests the existence of other works

7 ἐν ἄλλοις δέ γε ὀλίγον μεταβάς

8 not mentioned elsewhere, but the linguistic arguments against the authenticity of the passage, advanced e.g. by Persson ( Eranos 1915 p. 43), are not convincing

9 ποίησις is used rather than ποίημα because the writer has a collection of poems, not a poem, in mind; Aristotle, Pol. 5. 6. 2, calls the Eunomia of Tyrtaeus, perh. a long poem in several parts, a ποίησις

10 or basis

11 or basis

12 cf. Thuc. i. 1 ἐκ τεκμηρίων . . οὐ νομίζω

13 or amending the Greek as knowing

14 cf. Plut. Nobil. 15

15 excellence generally

16 this has also the meaning of writing prose

17 The quoter means ‘any more than you would wake the slumbering,’ though that is not the meaning of the original

18 technical terms of hexameter-writing

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