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“Semonides1: —Son of Crines, of Amorgos, writer of iambic verse; in origin he was of Samos, but was sent out by the Samians at the head of the colony they planted in Amorgos, founding three cities there, Minoa, Aegialus, and Arcesime. He flourished 390 years after the Trojan War.2 According to some authorities he was the first writer of iambics, and he wrote a History of Samos in two Books, in Elegiac verse, and other poetry of various kinds.” Suidas Lexicon:
“Amorgos is one of the Sporades and was the home of Semonides the iambic poet.” Strabo Geography:
“Semonides is made contemporary with Archilochus, and Callinus comes a little earlier, Archilochus speaking of Magnesia as destroyed and Callinus as still flourishing. Eumelus of Corinth is said to have belonged to an earlier date and been contemporary with Archias the founder of Syracuse. ” Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies
“Amorgos —an island, one of the Cyclades, containing three cities, Arcesine, Minoa, and Aegiale ... Of Minoa was Semonides the iambic writer called of Amorgos.3Stephanus of Byzantium Lexicon:
“... I know too well that your life has been marked by innumerable deeds worthy of satire,4 deeds such that I believe Archilochus himself could not cope with even one of them, though he should call in the aid of Semonides and Hipponax. Why, their satires —Orodoecides, Lycambes, Bupalus —you have made mere child's play in every sort of beastliness.5Lucian The Liar:
“Semonides is said to have been born [or flourished] in the 29th Olympiad (664-1 B.C.).” Cyril Against Julian:

See also Eust. ad Dion. P. 525, Sch. Il. 2. 219.



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

Thundering Zeus, lad, hath the ends of all things there be, and doeth with them what he will. There's no mind in us men, but we live each day as it cometh like grazing cattle, knowing no whit how God shall end it. Yet Hope and Trust keep us all a-pondering the impracticable; some abide till a day come, others for the turning of years. There 's none alive but thinketh he will come home winged with wealth and good things next year; yet one of us ere he reach his goal is taken with unenvied Age, another's mind is wasted by miserable Disease, or Death sendeth him below dark Earth whelmed by War. Some die at sea when they have laden a ship with their substance, confounded by storm and the many waves of the purple brine; others tie a noose about their miserable neck and leave the sunlight of their free choice. So true is it that nothing is without ills, nay, ten thousand the Dooms of men, and their woes and sorrows past reckoning. If they would be advised by me, we should not set our hearts on good things, nor yet do ourselves despite by letting our minds dwell upon evil troubles.

Stobaeus Anthology
“[consolations]: Semonides: —

Were he to die we should not take it to heart, if we were wise, for more than a single day.6

Stobaeus Anthology
“[comparison of life and death]: Semonides: —

There's much time for us to lie dead in, yet we live years few in number and live them ill.

Stobaeus Anthology
7[that the prosperity of man is uncertain, because fortune easily changes]: Semonides: —

No man is altogether without blame nor without harm.8

Stobaeus Anthology

9But he who is making true progress, comparing himself rather with the deeds and actions of a good and perfect man than with his words, and at the same time being pricked with the knowledge of his deficiency and glad with hope and desire, full of an impulse that will not rest —he is able, in Semonides’ phrase,

to run like a sucking foal beside his mother

craving almost to be one with his good friend.

Plutarch How a Man knows he is progressing in Virtue:

10Hesiod says ‘For a man wins himself nought better than a good wife nor worse than a bad,’ and Semonides after him:

A man wins himself nothing whatsoever that is better than a good wife nor worse than a bad.

Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies
“[censure of women, and concerning marriage]: Semonides: —

In the beginning God made woman's mind apart from man's.11

One made He of a bristly Sow; all that is in her house lies disorderly, defiled with dirt, and rolling upon the floor, and she groweth fat a-sitting among the middens in garments as unwashed as herself.

Another did God make of a knavish Vixen, a woman knowing in all things, who taketh note of all, be it bad or good; for the bad often calleth she good and the good bad; and she hath now this mood and now that.

Another of a Bitch, a busybody12 like her mother, one that would fain hear all, know all, and peering and prying everywhere barketh e'en though she see nothing; a man cannot check her with threats, no, not if in anger he dash her teeth out with a stone, nor yet though he speak gently with her, even though she be sitting among strangers —she must needs keep up her idle baying.

Another the Olympians fashioned of Earth, and gave to her husband all wanting in wits; such a woman knoweth neither evil nor good; her only art is to eat; and never though God give a bad winter draweth she her stool nigher the fire for the cold.

Another of the Sea, whose thoughts are in two minds; one day she laughs and is gay —a stranger seeing her within will praise her, saying ‘There's no better wife in all the world, nay, nor comelier’; the next she is intolerable to behold or draw nigh to, for then she rageth unapproachably, like a bitch with young; implacable and nasty is she to all, alike foe and friend. Even as the sea in summertime often will stand calm and harmless, to the great joy of the mariners, yet often will rage and toss with roaring waves, most like unto it is such a woman in disposition, nor hath the ocean a nature of other sort than hers.13

Another's made of a stubborn14 and belaboured She-Ass; everything she doeth is hardly done, of necessity and after threats, and then 'tis left unfinished; meanwhile eateth she day in day out, in bower and in hall, and all men alike are welcome to her bed.

Another of a Cat, a woeful and miserable sort; for in her there's nought of fair or lovely or pleasant or desirable; she is wood15 for a love-mate, and yet when she hath him turneth his stomach; she doeth her neighbours much harm underhand, and often eateth up unaccepted offerings.16

Another17 is the child of a dainty long-maned Mare; she refuseth menial tasks and toil; she'll neither set hand to mill nor take up sieve, nor cast forth the muck, nor, for that she shunneth the soot, will she sit beside the oven. She taketh a mate only of necessity. Every day will she wash herself twice, or even thrice, and anointeth her with unguents. She ever weareth her hair deep-combed and wreathed with flowers. Such a wife may be a fair sight for other men, but she's an ill to her husband if he be not a despot or a king, such as take pride in adornments like to her.

Another cometh of an Ape; she is the greatest ill of all Zeus giveth man. Foul of face, such a woman maketh laughter for all men as she goeth through the town; short in neck, she moveth hardly, hipless, leanshanked —alas for the wretched man that claspeth such a mischief! Like an ape she knoweth all arts and wiles, nor recketh of men's laughter. Neither will she do a man any kindness; all her care, all her considering, is how she shall do the greatest ill she may.

Another of a Bee; and happy he that getteth her. On her alone alighteth there no blame, and life doth flourish and increase because of her; loving and loved groweth she old with her husband, the mother of a fair and name-honoured progeny; she is pre-eminent among all the women, and a divine grace pervadeth her; neither taketh she delight in sitting among women where they tell tales of venery. Such wives are the best and wisest that Zeus bestoweth upon men; these other kinds, thanks unto Him, both are and will ever be a mischief in the world.

For this is the greatest ill that Zeus hath made, women. Even though they may seem to advantage us, a wife is more than all else a mischief to him that possesseth her; for whoso dwelleth with a woman, he never passeth a whole day glad, nor quickly shall he thrust out of doors Hunger the hated housefellow and hostile deity. But when a man thinketh withindoors to be gladdest at heart by grace of God or favour of man, then of all times will she find cause for blame and gird herself for battle. For where a woman is, they e'en cannot receive a stranger heartily. And she that most seemeth to be discreet, she is all the time doing the greatest harm; her husband is all agape for her, but the neighbours rejoice that yet another is deceived. And no man but will praise his own wife when he speaketh of her,18 and blame another's, yet we cannot see19 that we be all alike. Aye, this is the greatest ill that Zeus hath made, this hath he put about us as the bondage of a fetter irrefragable, ever since Death received them that went a-warring for a woman.20

Stobaeus Anthology

21Semonides in the Iambi: —

like an eel in the sediment22

and the accusative:

For a heron that hath found a hawk eating a Maeandrian eel hath taken it from him.23


Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner ,

“Some take κατενάσθην ‘I took up my abode’ as equivalent to the future ‘I shall take up my abode.’ Compare Semonides in the Iambi :

Why have I let my story run to a long tale?

where ἀνέδραμον stands for ἀναδραμεῖν μέλλω.

Scholiast on Euripides

24[ ᾠόν ‘egg’ as a trisyllable]: Semonides in the Second Book of the Iambi :

like to the egg of a Maeandrian goose

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
25The nominative is ἴκτινος ... the genitive of it being ἰκτίνου as in Semonides:

forthwith plunging among26 the entrails like a kite

Herodian Nouns [on nouns in -n]
27 ζῴδιον : —‘carved or painted figure’; it is written with the iota because it is found in diaeresi , as in Semonides for instance:

‘What a creature is this that hath flown to us! it hath the worst life of all living things’.28

Etymolicum Magnum:
29... not knowing that the Ionians say στενυγρόν for στενόν ‘narrow’; yet we have self-sufficient authority in what we find in the following lines of Semonides:

<If so,> no man would have so feared a lion in the shadowy hills nor yet a leopard if he met him alone in a narrow way.

Galen on Hippocrates
“Sophron uses the form κουρίδες for καρῖδες ‘prawns’ ... and so Epicharmus in Land and Sea, but in Logos and Logina he uses the form with ω ... as does Semonides:

cuttlefish with tunnies, prawns with gudgeons30

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
31Semonides in his Iambi has no compunction in saying:

and I anointed myself with unguents and spices and baccaris; for a merchant was there.

Clement of Alexandria Paedagogus:
ὀρσοθύρη : —a little door which gives access to32 an upper chamber, from ὄρω, ο´ρσω, and θύρα ... so called because people move or rush [ ὀρούειν ] towards it;33 Semonides uses it in a ‘lazy’ form (i.e. drops the middle syllable as in ἀμφορεύς for ἀμφιφορεύς ]:

and I let myself out by34 the back staircase-door.

Etymolicum Magnum:
35 διασαυλούμενος ‘strutting’: —from σαῦλος, which means effeminate and disdainful; Semonides in the Iambi:

and with a swaggering gait like a horse with arching neck.

Etymolicum Magnum:
σκνιπός is used by Semonides the writer of iambics in the sense of one that does not see clearly:

either blind or blear-eyed or leering.36

Pollux Onomasticon:
37According to Semonides ‘they (the shepherds) sacrifice,’ etc.

They sacrifice to the Nymphs and to the offspring of Maia;38 for these have honour39 of shepherd folk.

Scholiast on the Odyssey

“... and Semonides' phrase

cast forth with sodden clothes

that is, wet through.

Strabo Geography

παρδακός means ‘wet through,’ for so it is used by Archilochus, and by Semonides of Amorgos thus:

laden with sodden clothes

Scholiast on Aristophanes Peace:

“The Tromilean cheese is famous; of it Demetrius of Scepsis speaks in the 2nd Book of the Forces of the Trojans as follows: Tromileia is a city of Achaia in the district of which is made a very good goat's-milk cheese which has no rival, and is called Tromilean; it is mentioned by Semonides in the Iambic poem which begins:

Many the things thou dost finish, Telembrotus, ere ...

and he says of it:

But there (stood?) a wondrous Tromilean cheese from Achaia which they had brought down.


Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

“No wonder therefore that the cooks of old times were skilled haruspices (or diviners by entrails); for they had the management both of weddings and sacrifices; ... and another says in Semonides:

And the pig, how I singed it and cut it up in ritual fashion; I'm no 'prentice.

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
“[on cups]: They are also called ἀρυστῆρες and ἀρύστιχοι (which generally mean ‘ladles’); compare Semonides:

No man gave (me) so much as a cup of wine-lees.

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
“[on cups]: I know that the poet Semonides of Amorgos is the first to call them ποτήρια, which he does in his Iambi thus:

He took away the table whither he had taken the cups.40

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

41 φοξός [of Thersites' head]: —(a) This use comes from pottery tapered off at the kiln from the handle downwards;42 compare Semonides:

But this is a taper-footed Argive cup;

but some writers explain it as one that has his head tapering [ οξύς ]towards his eyes [ φάη ]. (b) φοξός is properly applied to fire-cracked pottery, being as it were φλοξός or flamy. 43

Scholiast on the Iliad

44Aristophanes is not alone in using ὁπλαί, ‘hoofs,’ of pigs; Semonides also does so, thus:

waggled the hoofs of his hind-legs45

Scholiast on Aristophanes
46The Dorians give the octopus an ω, πώλυπος, for instance Epicharmus; and Semonides too:

looking for an octopus

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
47 δαύω: —‘to burn’ in Semonides:

burnt thigh-bones48

Etymolicum Magnum:
49 ἔπληντ᾽ ἀλλήλῃσι ‘they drew near to one another’:50 from πλῶ to approach; the perfect is πέπληκα and πέπλακα, the passive πέπλημαι, πέπληται, and in Semonides πεπλήαται:

the other benches are full51

Old Etymologicum Magnum:
52 σίσυρνα is a thick mantle or leathern cloak, which Semonides calls σίσυς for short, thus:

a thick plaidie

Scholiast in Lycophron



not what you eat at home but what you eat on a journey, compare the Odyssey (2.410) and Semonides.53

Scholiast on the Iliad

“ka/rkara ...


in Semonides.

Hesychius Glossary

κέρκωπες : —scoundrels and cheats; and κερκωπία


in Semonides.


κορδύλη : a


in Semonides' 2nd Book.


κύβηβον ... The Ionians use this to mean what is now called a

begging priest

or Gallus ; thus Semonides.

Photius Lexicon:

booty of the Mysians

Demosthenes in the speech On behalf of Ctesiphon; a proverb runs thus, which according to Demon in the 1st Book of his treatise On Proverbs takes its origin from the inroads of the border peoples and robbers into Mysia during the absence of King Telephus. Notable users of the proverb are Strattis in his Medea and Semonides in his Iambi. 54

Harpocration Lexicon to the Ten Orators:

55 νήστης


or fasting; so Semonides ... according to Herodian in his Homophones.

Grammarian in Bekker's Anecdota:

56 τρασιά


for figs.... also in the form ταρσιά (i.e. ταρσιή ], which occurs in Semonides.

Etymolicum Magnum:

57 ψηνός


in Semonides.

Etymolicum Magnum:

58The Lesbian Prylis: this saying is adapted by Semonides:

... ye sleep in ... like Lesbian Prylis59 ...

Athens MS. in Crusius Paroemiographica:

1 the spelling with an e is vouched for by Vol. Herc. P. 1074. 105. col. 3, Coll. Alt. 4. 201, as well as by Et. Mag. s.v. (Choeroboscus); though everywhere else we find Simonides , I have adopted the distinctive spelling throughout

2 cf. Syncell. p. 213

3 cf. Tz. Chil. 12. 52, Phot. Bibl. 319 b. 28

4 lit. iambic poems

5 cf. Censor. fr. 9

6 or now that he is dead we shall not ... if we are wise ... (cf. Theogn. passim )

7 cf. Apost. 13. 86 b

8 meaning of ἀκήριος uncertain, but as ἄμωμος refers to what he does, it prob. refers to what happens to him; lit. unaffected by the Κῆρες or Doom-Spirits (cf. i. 21)

9 cf. Plut. An. Seni 12, Es. Carn. 2. 2, Virt. Mor. 7, Tuend. San. 22, Apost. 11. 98, Stob. Fl. 115. 18

10 cf. Euseb. Praep. Ev. 10. 466 d ( Σ. ἐν ε[νδεκάτω ], Apost. 5. 77 c, Boiss. An. i. 22 [ Θέογνις ]

11 or made mind apart from woman

12 the mss have λιτοργόν , a form which occurs nowhere else and is prob. corrupt.; two ancient glosses prob. belong here; one, λίταργον , explained by ‘running fast,’ seems etymologically unsound, the other, λιτουργόν [ λειτουργόν ?], explained by ‘scoundrelly,’ can hardly have that meaning; but the latter, besides its official use as ‘doer of public works,’ may have had the meaning given above

13 or keeping the Greek but the ocean hat a different nature

14 reading doubtful

15 mad

16 cf. Ath. 5. 179 d [ π. τῆς ἀκόσμου γυνακὸς ]

17 11. 57-70 are also in Ael. H.A. 16. 24, cf. 11. 36

18 not when he remembers her after her death (which would be put more explicitly)

19 or, emending the Gk. we know well

20 Helen, cf. Hes. Op. 165 ff

21 cf. Clem. Al. Paed. 2. 164

22 the oily sediment of a public bath

23 prob. metaphorical, but it might be the beginning of a Fable

24 cf. Eust. 1686. 51

25 cf. E. M. Vet. 167

26 lit. putting on like a garment, but the reading may be wrong

27 cf. Zon. 967

28 Fable of Zeus and the Crab? cf. Sch. Il. 18. 407 ‘said the Crab’

29 cf. Gal. 18. 1. 411 [ οὔπω τις οὔτω ]

30 do not mate?

31 cf. Ath. 15. 699 c

32 the Gk. suggests that the door is at the foot of the stairs

33 improbable derivation; it is prob. for o)rqoqu/rh because it opened not on the level but upon the last step of a staircase or ladder, cf. Hesych. o)rsoqu/rh (cf. o)rso/qric] occurs in Od. 22. 126, 132, 333

34 lit. shut myself from

35 cf. Zon. 539

36 last word doubtful: if rightly emended it means ‘with lewd looks’

37 cf. Eust. 1766. 1

38 Hermes

39 emendation doubtful

40 lit. by the path by which, etc.; or to which the cups ..; the tops of Gk. tables were removable

41 cf. E.M. 798. 20, Zon. 1817, Apoll. Soph. 164. 21, E.G. 560. 22, Cram. A.P. 3. 279. 8, Matr. An. 467, Ath. 11. 480d

42 reading and meaning doubtful

43 a variant is φαοξός , which apparently comes from the first etymology

44 cf. Suid. ὁπλή

45 from a Fable?

46 cf. Eust. 1541. 31

47 cf. Cram. A.O. i. 106. 1

48 these, wrapped in some of the fat, were the parts of the victim which the Greeks burnt at a sacrifice, the rest being eaten by the company

49 cf. E.M. 36. 37

50 i.e. the opposing shields in a battle, Il. 4. 449

51 the etymologist appears to have taken this to mean ‘the other timbers have drawn nigh,’ but there must be some mistake

52 cf. Hesych. σίσυς , Sch. Ar. Av. 122

53 citation lost, but we at least know that S. used the word

54 the proverb was used of anything that may be plundered with impunity

55 cf. Orion App. 187. 29, E.G. 408. 40, Matro ap. Ath. 4. 134 f

56 cf. Hesych. παρσιήν , E.G. 256

57 cf. Orion 168. 9

58 for a possible ref. to S.'s Book ii see Xenophanes fr. 21 n

59 cf. Sch. Lycophr. 219 and Milne Cat. Lit. Pap. Brit. Mus. 53 p. 40, a frag. too mutilated to be included here

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