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The Elegies of Mimnermus

Book i

“Mimnermus: —1

But what life would there be, what joy, without golden Aphrodite? May I die when I be no more concerned with secret love and suasive gifts and the bed, such things as are the very flowers of youth, pleasant alike to man and woman. And when dolorous Age cometh, that maketh a man both foul without and evil within,2ill cares do wear and wear his heart, he hath no more the joy of looking one the sunlight, to children he is hateful, to women contemptible, so grievous hath God made Age.

Stobaeus Anthology [on Aphrodite]
“Mimnermus: —

But we, like the leaves that come in the flowery Springtime when they wax so quickly beneath the sunbeams, like them we enjoy the blossoms of youth for a season but an ell long, the Gods giving us knowledge3 neither of evil nor of good; for here beside us stand the black Death-Spirits, the one with the end4 that is grievous Eld, the other that which is Death; and the harvest of youth is as quickly come as the rising Sun spreadeth his light abroad. And when the end of maturity be past, then to be dead is better than to live; for many be the sorrows that rise in the heart; sometimes our house is wasted and Poverty's dolorous deeds are to do; or a man lacketh children and goeth down to Death desiring them more than all else; again he is possessed by heart-destroying Disease —there's no man in the world to whom Zeus giveth not manifold woe.

Stobaeus Anthology [that life is short, of little account, and full of care]
“Mimnermus: —

However fair he may once have been, when the season is overpast he is neither honoured nor loved, nay, not by his own children.

Stobaeus Anthology [censure of Age]

Book ii Nanno

“Mimnermus Nanno : —

Zeus gave Tithonus the evil gift of immortal Eld, which is even worse than woeful Death.

Stobaeus Anthology [censure of Age]
“Mimnermus Nanno : —

[A sudden copious sweat floweth down my flesh and I tremble, when I behold the lovely and pleasant flowering-time of my generation, for I would it were longer lasting;]5 but precious Youth is short-lived as a dream, and woeful and ugly Eld hangeth plumb over our heads, Eld hateful alike and unhonoured,6 which maketh a man unknown and doeth him hurt by the overwhelming of eyes and wits.7

Stobaeus Anthology [on truth]
“Mimnermus Nanno : —

Betwixt thee and me let there be truth, the most righteous of all things.

Stobaeus Anthology [on truth]

“And Homer embroiders the facts merely so far as to make the wandering of the Argonauts extend into the Ocean on their way home. For assuming this to be the case it is natural enough to call the Argo ‘known everywhere,’ the voyage having taken place in familiar and well-peopled parts of the world. But if it was as Demetrius of Scepsis states on the authority of Mimnermus, who places the home of Aeetes in the Ocean far out beside the rising of the Sun, and says that Pelias sent Jason thither and he brought the Golden Fleece thence, the quest of the Fleece could not plausibly be made thither; for that would be a vague and unknown part of the world, nor could a voyage8 through wild and unhabited regions so far beyond our ken be described as renowned, or as Homer says, ‘known everywhere.’ (The passages of Mimnermus are these9:)

... Nor would even Jason himself have accomplished his direful journey and brought the great Fleece back from Aea,10 fulfilling the grievous task set him by the wicked Pelias, nor would they have come to the fair stream of Ocean;

and later,

the city of Aeetes, where the beams of the swift Sun are laid up in a golden chamber beside the lips of Ocean, whither the divine Jason went and was gone.


Strabo Geography

“According to the Nanno of Mimnermus, the Sun travels across to the place of his rising in a golden bed made for the purpose by Hephaestus, and the poet hints at the hollow of the Cup. His words are:

For the Sun's portion is labour every day, nor is there ever any rest either for him or his horses when rosy-fingered Dawn hath left the Ocean and climbed11 the sky; for over the wave in a delightful bed forged of precious gold by the hand of Hephaestus, hollow and with wings, he is carried in pleasant sleep on the face of the waters from the Hesperians' country to the land of the Aethiop, where his horses and swift chariot stand till early-begotten Dawn appear, and then the son of Hyperion mounts his car.

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
“Colophon was founded by Andraemon of Pylos, as we learn from Mimnermus' Nanno.” Strabo Geography
“When the Smyrnaeans left Ephesus they invaded the district where Smyrna now stands, and expelling the Lelegians who then possessed it, founded Old Smyrna between two and three miles from where the new city stood later. Driven thence by the Aeolians some time afterwards, they took refuge at Colophon and went and recovered their territory with the Colophonians' help. This we are told by Mimnermus, who in the Nanno thus refers to the fact that Smyrna had always been a bone of contention:

... When from the lofty city of Neleian Pylos we came on shipboard to the pleasant land of Asia, and in overwhelming might destroying grievous pride12 sat down at lovely Colophon, thence13 went we forth from beside the wooded river14 and by Heaven's counsel took Aeolian Smyrna.15

For a fragment of the Smyrneid see Appendix.

Strabo Geography

“It is said that when Mimnermus wrote:16

Would that the fate of Death might overtake me without disease or woeful trouble at threescore years!

Solon found fault with him, saying ‘But if thou wilt listen to me so late in the day, erase this, Ligyastades, and bearing me no ill-will because I give thee better counsel, change thy song and sing that thou art fain the fate of Death might overtake thee at fourscore.’

Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers:

“ Mimnermus:

[Harming neither sojourner nor citizen with deeds of mischief, but living a righteous man,] rejoice your own heart; of your pitiless fellow-townsmen assuredly some will speak ill of you and some good.17

Palatine Anthology
“Mimnermus, in the Prelude to the Elegiac lines he writes on the battle between the Smyrnaeans and Gyges and his Lydians, makes the original Muses daughters of Heaven and a younger generation children of Zeus.” 18Pausanias Description of Greece
“Mimnermus —

Not his were such feeble might and poor nobility of heart, say my elders who saw him rout the serried ranks of Lydian cavalry in the plain of Hermus, rout them with a spear; never at all would Pallas Athene have had cause to blame the sour might of the heart of such as him, when he sped forward in the van, defying the foeman's bitter missiles in the thick of bloody war. For no man ever wrought better the work of the fierce battle in face of his enemies, when he went like a ray of the Sun.

Stobaeus Anthology [on valour]

“:...means report or speech; compare Mimnermus:

and hard words possess him before men;


ever desirous to hear grievous words19


Etymologicum Magnum βάξις

“compare Mimnermus:

leading the men of Paeonia, where the race of horses is held in honour20

Scholiast on the Iliad [‘horsehair-crested Paeonians’]

“Demetrius of Scepsis also in the 24th Book of the same work (The Forces of the Trojans) speaks of


as a hero honoured among the Trojans and mentioned by Mimnermus.21

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

“The ancients seem to vary as to the number of Nioba's children. ... Mimnermus gives her twenty, and Pindar agrees with him.” Aelian Historical Miscellany
“If not, Theon here will call in his support Mimnermus, Cydias, and Archilochus, and with them Stesichorus and Pindar, who bewail in eclipses that ‘the most manifest of stars is stolen away’ and ‘noonday made night,’ and declare that the beam of the Sun is ‘the path of darkness.’22Plutarch The Face in the Moon [eclipses of the Sun]
“According to Mimnermus, Ismene was killed by Tydeus at Athena's instigation when having intercourse with Theoclymenus.” Argument to Sophocles Antigone
“The ‘Troezenian’ is Aphrodite. According to Mimnermus, after her wounding by Diomed she procured the favours of (his wife) Aegialeia for many lovers, and her love for Hippolytus and Cometes son of Sthenelus; and when Diomed went to Argos she plotted against him; whereupon he took sanctuary at the altar of Hera, and fleeing with his companions by night passed into Italy and went to the court of King Daunus who killed him by a trick.” Tzetzes on Lycophron

“‘Lame men,’ etc.: this means that the Amazons maimed their male children by removing either a leg or a hand, and when the Scythians, desiring to come to terms in their war against them, told them that they would find in them no maimed or mutilated bedfellows, their queen

Lame men make lusty husbands.

The saying is given by Mimnermus.23

From a Collection of Proverbs

1 cf. Plut. Virt. Mor. 6( τίς δὲ χάρις and ἄνευ ), Apost. 16. 61c

2 or less likely maketh even a fair man foul

3 he prob. means fore-knowledge

4 or holding the end of, a phrase generally in the plural, meaning something like ‘having the entire control of’

5 Theognis 1017 has 11. 4-6 (with 2 slight changes) preceded by 11. 1-3, which are not found in Stob. and may not belong to M.

6 or valueless

7 or when it is poured over eyes and wits

8 if the text is sound ‘voyage’ stands for ‘a ship that went a voyage’

9 not in the Greek

10 i.e. had it not been for Medea's love; prob. part of the Nanno , cf. Ap. Rh. 3. 1 (Kaib.)

11 or reading εἰσαναβᾷ and taking it as present subjunctive ‘begins to climb’

12 of the Lelegians

13 or and thence

14 reading doubtful

15 M. hints at the discreditable episode of the loss of Old Smyrna to the Aeolians by calling it Aeolian

16 to him?

17 Theognis 793 has ll. 3-4 preceded by ll. 1-2 which are not found in the Anth. and may not belong to M.

18 cf. Sch. Pind. N. 3. 16

19 i.e . ill-report of a man

20 or where there is a famous race of horses? cf. Il. 21. 155, Cram. A.P. 3. 287. 1

21 cf. Eust. Od. 1413. 23

22 the 1st citation is from Pindar ( Paean 9), the 2nd perh. from Stesichorus ( L.G. ii. p. 19 and fr. 94), and the 3rd, if not from Paean 9, perh. from Archilochus (cf. fr. 74), cf. Ginzel p. 525

23 ascription doubtful (it is at any rate not part of an iambic, unless we read οἰφέει ); cf. Diogen. 2. 2, Com. Adesp. p. 36K.

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