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προετρέψατο, ‘had moved’ (to inquire further). τὰ κατὰ τὸν Τέλλον, ‘as to the matter of Tellus,’ is an ordinary accusative of respect.

The element common to this story and that of Tellus is ‘the glorious end’, but there is a note of pessimism in this one; this may be characteristic, not of Solon, but of H. himself (cf. Intr. p. 49 and L. Campbell, Religion in Gk. Literature, p. 183). But cf. Solon, fr. 17 πάντῃ δ᾽ ἀθανάτων ἀφανὴς νόος ἀνθρώποισι, and also fr. 14 οὐδὲ μάκαρς οὐδεὶς πέλεται βροτός, ἀλλὰ πονηροὶ πάντες ὅσους θνητοὺς ἠέλιος καθορᾷ.

For Greek pessimism in general cf. ib. pp. 113, 115, 275-6.

For Cleobis and Bito cf. Paus. ii. 20. 3, and Frazer iii. 193 for other references.

For the Heraeum cf. Paus. ii. 17. The site has been explored by the American School since 1892 (cf. Waldstein's The Argive Heraeum, and a summary in Frazer, P. iii. 165 seq.). It stood on the road from Argos to Mycenae, about three miles south of the latter. The temple was burned in 423 (Thuc. iv. 133). As the site is a rocky terrace above the plain, the feat of strength was considerable; but H. avoids the absurdity of making Bito on another occasion carry a bull on his shoulders (Paus. ii. 19. 5).

θεός here = ‘Hera’. But it is often used in an abstract sense (cf. vii. 10 ε). H., though a polytheist, is, like Sophocles, not uninfluenced by the philosophic tendencies which were affecting Greek religion in the sixth and fifth centuries; he is, perhaps, also influenced by Persian religion (c. 131 n.). For the monotheistic tendency of Pindar cf. Campbell, u. s. pp. 171, 183 f. For a good note on H.'s use of θεός κτλ. cf. Macan (1895), cxi. n. 3.

ἄμεινον ... τεθνάναι. The sentiment is common in Gk. literature (cf. Butcher, Some Aspects of Gk. Genius, p. 134); perhaps the bestknown example is Soph. O. C. 1225 seq., with its parallel in Theog. 425 seq.; cf. too Bacchyl. iii. 47 θανεῖν γλύκιστον, said by Croesus himself, and

ὡς γὰρ ἐπεκλώσαντο θεοὶ δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσι,
ζώειν ἀχνυμένοις, αὐτοὶ δέ τ᾽ ἀκηδέες εἰσί.

Death is welcomed as an escape from troubles. This is different from the doctrine of the Pythagoreans, who taught that death was a good, as delivering the soul from the prison of the body. The Thracian Trausi (v. 4. 2 n.) are credited with the same idea as Solon.

A similar story to that of Cleobis and Bito is told of Trophonius and Agamedes (who received death as a reward from Apollo for building his temple at Delphi) and of the poet Pindar (Plut. Consol. ad Apoll. c. 14, pp. 108-9).

Homolle discovered these statues at Delphi (cf. Frazer, v. 563). The identification was disputed, but the actual inscription has now been found, and ‘confirms most strikingly the accuracy of H.’ (B. P. W. 1911, pp. 789-90); cf. also Philologus lxx, pp. 312-13, for the conjecture Ἡραῖόνδε), and J. H. S. xxxi. 300 for a brief summary.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.17
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.19.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.20.3
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1225
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.133
    • Homer, Iliad, 24.525
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