), of Cyprus, an epic poet, to whom some of the ancient writers attributed that one of the poems of the Epic Cycle which was entitled Κύπρια
or τὰ ἔπη τὰ Κύπρια
The statements on the subject are, however, so various, and partake so much of conjecture, that no certain conclusion can be drawn from them.
In the earliest historical period of Greek literature, and before critical inquiries began, the Cypria
was accepted without question as a work of Homer. Pindar refers to it as Homer's (Fr. 189, apud Aelian, V. H.
9.15; but there is some doubt as to the genuineness of the quotation); and the respect in which it was held by the early tragedians is evident from the number of their dramas which were founded upon it. Herodotus (2.117
) decidedly controverts the opinion which ascribed it to Homer; but in a manner which plainly shows that that opinion was still the prevailing one. Plato, on the other hand, quotes as from Homer two verses which, the Scholiast asserts, are from the Cypria
p. 12a.). Aristotle (Aristot. Poet. 23.6
) distinguishes the author of the Cypria
from Homer, but without mentioning the name of the former; and Pausanias refers to the poem in the same manner (3.16. §; 4.2.7; 10.26.1; 10.31.2).
It is not till we come down to the times of Athenaeus and the grammarians, that we find any mention of Stasinns ; and even then the poem is ascribed to him in a very hesitating and indefinite manner. Thus Athenaeus in one passage (ii. p. 35c.), speaks of " the poet of the Cypria,
whoever he may be ;" in another (viii. p. 334), he mentions the author in the following indefinite way, ὁ τὰ Κύπρια ποιήσας ἔπη
, εἴτε Κύπριός τίς εστιν ἢ Στασῖνος ἢ ὅστις δήποτε χαίρει ὀνομαζόμενος
; and in a third (xv. p. 682e.), he quotes the author of the poem as either Hegesias or Stasinus, and adds that Demodamas of Halicarnassus made the author of the Cypria
a native of Halicarnassus. Lastly, Proclus, who is our chief authority for the history of the epic cycle, not only tells us that the poem was ascribed to Stasinus or Hegesinas or Homer, but what he and others tell us of Stasinus only adds new doubts to those which already beset the subject, and new proofs of the uncertainties of the ancients themselves respecting it. (Prod. Chrestom.
in Gaisford's Hephaestion et Proclus,
pp. 471, foil.; quoted also by Photius, Bibl.
Cod. ccxxxix. pp. 319, a. foll.). Stasinus was said to be the son-in-law of Homer, who, according to one story, composed the Cypria
and gave it to Stasinus as his daughter's marriage portion; manifestly an attempt to reconcile the two different accounts, which ascribed it to Homer and Stasinus (Proc. l.c. ; Ael. VH 9.15
). We are also told that the poem was named from its author's native place ; but critical analogies suggest the doubt whether the country of the alleged author was not invented to account for the title. Other passages, which might be quoted from the grammarians and scholiasts, leave the question much in the same state. Even the number of books of which the poem consisted is doubtful; for the only authority for the common statement, that it contained eleven books, is a quotation of Athenaeus front the eleventh
book (xv. p. 682e.).
From these statements it may be judged whether there is sufficient foundation for the opinion of Müller and other writers, that the poem may be safely assigned to Stasinus, whose date they fix as about contemporary with Arctinus of Miletus. Considering the immense range of mythological stories which we know the poem to have embraced, there is much probability in the opinion of Bernhardy, that it was a work of many times and many hands. Its title may be explained by the conspicuous part which Aphrodite has in the general action; a circumstance which certainly favours the idea that the author of the general plan of the poem was a Cyprian.
was the first, in the order of the events contained in it, of the poems of the Epic Cycle relating to the Trojan War.
It embraced the period antecedent to the beginning of the Iliad
, to which it was evidently designed to form an introduction. From the outline given by Proclus, and from the extant fragments, a good idea may be formed of its structure and contents. The Earth, wearied with the burthen of the degenerate race of man, entreats Zeus to diminish their numbers.
He grants her request, and prepares two chief agents to accomplish it, Helen and Achilles, the beauty of the former furnishing the cause of the contest, and the sword of the latter the instrument of extermination.
The events succeeding the birth of Helen (or rather, for the form of the myth is varied), her being sent by Zeus to Leda to bring up, and the marriage of Peleus, down to the sailing of the expedition against Troy, were related at great length, and the incidents of the war itself much more briefly, the latter part being apparently occupied chiefly with those previous adventures of the heroes which are referred to in the Iliad
It concluded with the following somewhat clumsy contrivance to connect it with the opening of the Iliad
: the war itself is not found to be murderous enough to accomplish the object prayed for by the Earth ; and in order to effect it more surely, the fresh contention between Achilles and Agamemnon is stirred up by Zeus. (R. J. F. Henrichsen, de Carminibus Cypriis,
Havn. 1828, 8vo.; Welcker, in the Zeitschrift für Alterth. 1834,
Nos. 3, &c.; Müller, Gesch. d. Griech. Lit.
vol. i. pp. 118-120, pp. 68, 69, Eng. trans.; Bode, Gesch. d. Hellen. Dichtkunst,
vol. i. pp. 363-378; Bernhardy, Grundriss d. Griech. Lit.
vol. ii. pp. 150-152; Clinton, F. H.
vol. i. pp. 353, &c.)