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Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns, and Homerica

Page: 142

When Hesiod heard this oracle, he kept away from the Peloponnesus, supposing that the god meant the Nemea there; and coming to Oenoe in Locris, he stayed with Amphiphanes and Ganyetor the sons of Phegeus, thus unconsciously fulfilling the oracle; for all that region was called the sacred place of Nemean Zeus. He continued to stay a somewhat long time at Oenoe, until the young men, suspecting Hesiod of seducing their sister, killed him and cast his body into the sea which separates Achaea and Locris. On the third day, however, his body was brought to land by dolphins while some local feast of Ariadne was being held. Thereupon, all the people hurried to the shore, and recognized the body, lamented over it and buried it, and then began to look for the assassins. But these, fearing the anger of their countrymen, launched a fishing boat, and put out to sea for Crete: they had finished half their voyage when Zeus sank them with a thunderbolt, as Alcidamas states in his "Museum". Eratosthenes, however, says in his "Hesiod" that Ctimenus and Antiphus, sons of Ganyetor, killed him for the reason already stated, and were sacrificed by Eurycles the seer to the gods of hospitality. He adds that the girl, sister of the above-named, hanged herself after she had been seduced, and that she was seduced by some stranger, Demodes by name, who was travelling with Hesiod, and who was also killed by the brothers. At a later time the men of Orchomenus removed his body as they were directed by an oracle, and buried him in their own country where they placed this inscription on his tomb:

'Ascra with its many cornfields was his native land; but in death the land of the horse-driving Minyans holds the bones of Hesiod, whose renown is greatest among men of all who are judged by the test of wit.'

So much for Hesiod. But Homer, after losing the victory, went from place to place reciting his poems, and first of all the "Thebais" in seven thousand verses which begins: 'Goddess, sing of parched Argos whence kings...', and then the "Epigoni" in seven thousand verses beginning: 'And now, Muses, let us begin to sing of men of later days'; for some say that these poems also are by Homer. Now Xanthus and Gorgus, son of Midas the king, heard his epics and invited him to compose a epitaph for the tomb of their father on which was a bronze figure of a maiden bewailing the death of Midas. He wrote the following lines:—

'I am a maiden of bronze and sit upon the tomb of Midas. While water flows, and tall trees put forth leaves, and rivers swell, and the sea breaks on the shore; while the sun rises and shines and the bright moon also, ever remaining on this mournful tomb I tell the passer-by that Midas here lies buried.'

For these verses they gave him a silver bowl which he dedicated to Apollo at Delphi with this inscription: 'Lord Phoebus, I, Homer, have given you a noble gift for the wisdom I have of you: do you ever grant me renown.'


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