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 It formerly produced celebrated men, as Pittacus, one of the Seven Wise Men; Alcæus the poet, and his brother Antimenidas, who, according to Alcæus, when fighting on the side of the Babylonians, achieved a great exploit, and extricated them from their danger by killing “ a valiant warrior, the king's wrestler, who was four cubits in height.
” Contemporary with these persons flourished Sappho, an extraordinary woman; for at no period within memory has any woman been known at all to be compared to her in poetry. At this period Mitylene was ruled by many tyrants, in consequence of the dissensions among the citizens. These dissensions are the subject of the poems of Alcæus called Stasiotica (the Seditions). One of these tyrants was Pittacus: Alcæus inveighed against him as well as against Myrsilus, Melanchrus the Cleanactidæ, and some others; nor was he himself clear from the imputation of favouring these political changes. Pittacus himself employed monarchical power to dissolve the despotism of the many, but, having done this, he restored the independence of the city. At a late period afterwards appeared Diophanes the rhetorician; in our times Potamo, Lesbocles, Crinagoras, and Theophanes the historian.1 The latter was versed in political affairs, and became the friend of Pompey the Great, chiefly on account of his accomplishments and assistance he afforded in directing to a successful issue all his enterprises. Hence, partly by means of Pompey, partly by his own exertions, he became an ornament to his country, and rendered himself the most illustrious of all the Grecians. He left a son, Mark (Macer?) Pompey, whom Augustus Cæsar appointed prefect of Asia, and who is now reckoned among the number of the chief friends of Tiberius. The Athenians were in danger of incurring irremediable disgrace by passing a decree that all the Mitylenæans who had attained the age of puberty should be put to death. They, however, recalled their resolution, and the counter-decree reached their generals only one day before the former order was to be executed.
1 Diophanes was the friend of Tiberius Gracchus, and was the victim of his friendship. Potamo was professor of rhetoric at Rome, and was the author of the Perfect Orator, the Life of Alexander the Great, the Praise of Cæsar, the Praise of Brutus, and the Annals of Samos. Pliny mentions a sculptor of the name of Lesbocles, whose name seems to indicate his origin from Lesbos. Athenæus also names a sculptor from Mitylele called Lesbothemis. Strabo is probably the only person who makes mention of Crinagoras. Theophanes is known as an historian, and especially as the friend of Pompey, whom however he advised to retire to Egypt. The philosopher Lesbonarx, lather of Potamo, was a native of Mitylene.
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