Πολύειδος, Πολύϊδος, Πολυΐδας, Πολυείδης
, (all these forms occur, but the most usual is Πολύϊδος
), a dithyrambic poet of the most flourishing period of the later Athenian dithyramb, and also skilful as a painter, was contemporary with Philoxenus, Timotheus, and Telestes, about Ol. 95, B. C. 400. (Diod. 14.46
The notices of him are very scanty; but he seems to have been esteemed almost as highly as Timotheus, whom indeed one of his pupils, Philotas, once conquered.
It is related that, as Polyidus was boasting of this victory, Stratonicus, the musician, rebuked him by saying, "I wonder you do not understand that you make ψηφίσματα
, but Timotheus νόμους
," an untranslateable witticism, intimating that Timotheus had been conquered by the voice of the people, and not by the merit of his opponent. (Ath. viii. p. 532b.)
It seems from a passage of Plutarch (De Mus.
21, p. 1138b.), that Polyidus went beyond Timotheus in those intricate variations, for the introduction of which the musicians of this period are so frequently attacked.
A remarkable testimony to his popularity throughout Greece is still extant in the form of a decree of the Cnossians, commending Menecles of Teos for having played on the harp at Cnossus "after the manner of Timotheus and Polyidus and the ancient Cretan poets, as becomes an accomplished man." (Böckh, Corp. Inscr. Graec.
vol. ii. p. 641, No. 3053.)
One of his pieces was entitled Ἄτλας
, and in it he represented Atlas as a Libyan shepherd, whom Perseus turned into stone by showing him the Gorgon's head; a remarkable example of the total want of ideal art, and of any poetical conception of the early mythology, which characterised the dithyrambic poets of that period. (Tzetzes, Schol. ad Lycophr. 879, Exeg. Iliad.
p. 132. 18; Etym. May.
p. 104. 20; Meineke, Hist. Crit. Com. Graec.
p. 239, n.)
There are also two remarkable references in the Poetic
(16, 17) of Aristotle to the Iphigeneia
of Polyidus, where Aristotle is mentioning examples of ἀναγνώρισις
But here it seems from the context that a tragic poet is referred to; besides which it is improbable, Müller argues, that Aristotle would speak of the celebrated dithyrambic poet, as he does in the first of these passages, by the name of Πολυείδου τοῦ σοφιστοῦ.
On the other hand. there is the critical canon, which forbids us to assume an unknown person of the same name as one well known, if any other probable explanation can be suggested. Perhaps, in this case, the best solution of the difficulty is the conjecture of Welcker, that Polyidus was a sophist, who took a pride in cultivating several different branches of art and literature, and who thus was at once a painter, a dithyrambic poet, and a tragedian.
There are three iambic trimeter lines in Stobaeus (Serm.
xciii.) which appear at first sight to settle the point as to there having been a tragic poet of this name; but it is easily shown that these lines are a quotation, not from a poet named Polyidus,but from the Polyidus of Euripides. (Müller, Gesch. d. Griech. Litt.
vol. ii. p. 287, or vol. ii. p. 59, Eng. trans.; Ulrici, Gesch. d. Hell. Dichtk.
vol. ii. pp. 610, fol.; Bode, Gesch. d. Hell. Dichtk.
vol. ii. pt. 2. p. 323, vol. iii. pt. 1, p. 562; Schmidt, Diatrib. in Dithyramb.
pp. 121-124; Kayser, Hist. Crit. Trag. Graec.
pp. 318-322; Welcker, die Griech. Trag.
pp. 1043, 1044; Bartsch, de Chaeremone,
p. 14; Bernhardy, Grundriss d. Gesch. d. Griech. Litt.
vol. ii. pp. 554, 555.)