or LESCHEUS (Λέσχης
), one of the so-called cyclic poets, the son of Aeschylinus, a native of Pyrrha, in the neighbourhood of Mytilene (Paus. 10.25.5
), and thence also called a Mytilenean or a Lesbian.
He flourished about the 18th Olympiad; and therefore the tale, which is related about a contest between him and Arctinus, who lived about the beginning of the Olympiads, is an anachronism.
This tradition is explained by the fact that Lesches treated, at least to some extent, the same events in his Little Iliad
(Ἰλιὰς ἡ ἐλάσσων
or Ἰλιὰς μικρά
), which were the subject of Arctinus's Aethiopis.
The little Ilias, like all the other cyclic poems, was ascribed to various poets -- to Homer himself, to Thestorides of Phocaea (Herod. Vit. Hom.
16), to the Lacedaemonian Cinaethon, and Diodorus of Erythrae.
The poem consisted of four books, according to Proclus, who has preserved an extract from it.
It was evidently intended as a supplement to the Homeric Iliad; consequently it related the events after the death of Hector, the fate of Ajax, the exploits of Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, and Ulysses, and the final capture and destruction of Troy (Arist. Poct.
23, Bekk.), which part of the poem was called The Destruction of Troy
There was no unity in the poem, except that of historical and chronological succession. Hence Aristotle remarks that the little Iliad furnished materials for eight tragedies, whilst only one could be based upon the Iliad
or Odyssey of Homer.
The extracts which Proclus gives of the poem of Lesches are interwoven with those from the Aethiopis of Arctinus.
It is not to be presumed, as Müller shows (Hist. of Greek Lit.
6.3), that either poet should have broken off in the middle of an event, in order that the other might fill up the gap.
The different times at which they lived is sufficient proof to the contrary, and there are fragments extant which show that Lesches had treated of those events also which in Proclus's extract are not taken from him, but from Arctinus. (Comp. Welcker, der Epische Cydus,
pp. 272, 358, 368.)