Greece Opera Part II

On the same path as Archilochus, but with a somewhat different, less personal, less aggressive temperament, a contemporary or a little later, Semonides of Amorgos (a native of Samo), author of the famous satire of women, took up his post. Instead Hipponatte of Ephesus, who lived about the middle of the century. VI, developed the most vulgar part of the great predecessor: he created the perfect type of the curse and beggar poet; he reached expressions of the utmost triviality, making this tendency manifest also in the meter, with the use of the so-called coliambo, or limping iambo.

According to, these authors represent the complete antithesis of the epic and the heroic spirit. Which survived, exceptionally, in some of the most ancient elegiacs, although contemporaries of Archilochus.

He survived in Callino of Ephesus, who with martial verses incited his fellow villagers to defend their homeland – Asia Minor – from an invasion by the Cimmerîs; and above all in Tirteo, the warlike poet par excellence. Tyrteus was from Miletus (perhaps it is pure and simple legend that he is of Athenian origin, unless he had first settled in Athens), but he emigrated to Sparta, and there he found appropriate nourishment and occasion for the vigor of his poetry. In fact he was, during the second Messenic war (shortly after 650), the animator of the Spartans, for whom he composed his collections of elegies: both the Exhortations (ὑποϑῆκαι), aimed at awakening the warlike ardor, and the Eunomia, dedicated to promoting harmony, obedience to the laws and in general the sound principles of good civil government. Both these collections, although they were written for the use of the Spartans, in the Doric country, however, due to their literary character, they kept the Ionic dialect: instead the Assault Songs (ἐμβατήρια), by the same Tirteo, having to be sung directly by the soldiers, and being in another meter, more lively (not elegiac, but anapestic), they were composed in the dialect of the Dorians.

But if heroic currents resounded in Callino and Tirteo, it is certain that the ionic nature, accustomed to the soft idleness of Asia, was rather made for the peaceful enjoyments of both the body and the intellect.

It was reflected in the voluptuous Mimnermo of Colofone (also lived towards the end of the seventh century), which exposed with tender melancholy the joys of youth and love. In general Mimnermo obtained the material suitable for his feelings from the world of mythology; but in this one he naturally sought, with a very different tendency from the epic, the more hidden, more tenuous, lighter sides: in fact he put together – in the collection of elegies (Ναννώ) named after his woman, – a quantity of legends on the subject for mostly amorous or familiar (therefore he will be considered as a precursor by the Alexandrians). Furthermore, the Ionian nature found wide expression in sententious, moral, philosophical, didactic poetry, etc., of which it was a characteristic representative, from the century onwards. VII to VI, Phocilides of Miletus. In Phocilis it flowed,

In other authors, on the other hand, the fruits of doctrine and of the incipient philosophical studies appeared.

Xenophanes of Colofone – however, who had migrated to Elea, a colony of Focese in southern Italy, where he founded the so-called Eleatic school – used the verse for essentially theoretical purposes. His concepts on the nature of things (Περὶ ϕύσεως) he expressed them preferably, as was fitting, in the solemn meter of the epic. But in elegies and in iambs – which were the suitable forms to welcome even the outpouring of sentiment – he began to fight the traditional religious and moral beliefs, the myths of Homer, the vulgar prejudices, often hitting them with the weapon of ridicule (especially in the compositions entitled Σίλλοι or Παρῳδίαι).

A very important place belongs to Solon: who was the oldest writer of Athens (he also lived between the seventh and sixth centuries), and therefore represents that part of the Ionian lineage that resided in Attica and that he will inherit from there. at a hundred years the primacy of culture. Solon is above all a wise man (in the aforementioned legend he was assumed in the number of the seven wise men). He is the man of reality, of truth, of measure; puts poetry at the service of his work as a statesman and reformer, at the service of his country and education: but since the country and education are his faith, he is therefore able to print a characteristic imprint in poetry too, made of clarity, sincerity, vigor. Finally, Theognis should not be forgotten, although he does not belong to the Ionian lineage – being Doric, of Megara – and although it leads us to a bit too late, having lived in the last decades of the century. VI and at the beginning of the V, up to the time of the Persian wars.

But what happened to the epic happened with the elegy and the iambo: little by little they considered themselves as fixed “genres”, even before the grammarians intervened to define them; and spread in the various regions of Greece and the colonies, not only for the emigration of Ionian poets (such as Tyrteus, Xenophanes, etc.), but for the adoption of them by non-Ionian poets: they spread with their own Ionic dialect, with phrasebook, with technique, with the acquired habit of dealing with one subject rather than the other. Theognides too is, like most of his predecessors, an essentially political-moralizing poet: indeed, he is the “gnomic” poet par excellence. It collects a number of traditional elements (the origin of which is not easy to distinguish); he seasons them with new passion; he administers them in a parenetic form (mostly as instruction to the young Cirno). He is not lacking in personal character; he has a certain profoundly pessimistic outlook on life, with little faith in the virtues of men: therefore he aims to vent his feelings of acrimony in verse, especially his rancor as an old aristocrat swept by the growing tide of democracy. He was in society, as well as in art, a passatist. especially his grudge as an old aristocrat swept by the rising tide of democracy. He was in society, as well as in art, a passatist. especially his grudge as an old aristocrat swept by the rising tide of democracy. He was in society, as well as in art, a passatist.

Greece Opera 2