Biographies MITHYMNA (Ancient city) LESVOS - GTP - Greek Travel Pages
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Biographies (22)

Poets

Arion

, , 650 - 590
A celebrated lyric poet and musician, who was saved by a dolphin and lived between ca. 650-590 B.C..

(Arion). A Greek poet and musician, of Methymna in Lesbos, who flourished about B.C. 625. In the course of a roving life he spent a considerable time at the court of Periander, tyrant of Corinth. Here he first gave the dithyramb (q.v.) an artistic form, and was therefore regarded as the inventor of that style in general. He is best known by the story of his rescue on the back of a dolphin. Returning from a journey through Lower Italy and Sicily, he trusted himself to a crew of Corinthian sailors, who resolved to kill him on the open sea for the sake of his treasures. As a last favour he extorted the permission to sing his songs once more to the lyre, and then to throw himself into the sea.
His strains drew a number of dolphins around him, one of which took him on its back, and carried him safe to land at the foot of the foreland of Taenarum. Thence he hastened to Corinth, and convicted the sailors, who were telling Periander that they had left the minstrel safe at Tarentum ( Hyg. Fab.194). A bronze statue of a man on a dolphin, which stood on the top of Taenarum, was supposed to be his thank-offering to Poseidon ( Herod.i. 24). A hymn of thanksgiving to the god of the sea, preserved under his name, belongs to a later time.

Arion, an ancient Greek bard and great master on the cithara, was a native of Methymna in Lesbos, and, according to some accounts, a son of Cyclon or of Poseidon and the nymph Oncaea. He is called the inventor of the dithyrambic poetry, and of the name dithyramb (Herod. i. 23; Schol. ad Pind. Ol. xiii. 25). All traditions about him agree in describing him as a contemporary and friend of Periander, tyrant of Corinth, so that he must have lived about B. C. 700. He appears to have spent a great part of his life at the court of Periander, but respecting his life and his poetical or musical productions, scarcely anything is known beyond the beautiful story of his escape from the sailors with whom he sailed from Sicily to Corinth. On one occasion, thus runs the story, Arion went to Sicily to take part in some musical contest. He won the prize, and, laden with presents, he embarked in a Corinthian ship to return to his friend Periander. The rude sailors coveted his treasures, and meditated his murder. Apollo, in a dream, informed his beloved bard of the plot. After having tried in vain to save his life, he at length obtained permission once more to seek delight in his song and playing on the cithara. In festal attire he placed himself in the prow of the ship and invoked the gods in inspired strains, and then threw himself into the sea. But many song-loving dolphins had assembled round the vessel, and one of them now took the bard on its back and carried him to Taenarus, from whence he returned to Corinth in safety, and related his adventure to Periander. When the Corinthian vessel arrived likewise, Periander inquired of the sailors after Arion, and they said that he had remained behind at Tarentum; but when Arion, at the bidding of Periander, came forward, the sailors owned their guilt and were punished according to their desert (Herod. i. 24; Gellius, xvi. 19; Hygin. Fab. 194; Paus. iii. 25.5.) In the time of Herodotus and Pausanias there existed on Taenarus a brass monument, which was dedicated there either by Periander or Arion himself, and which represented him riding on a dolphin. Arion and his cithara (lyre) were placed among the stars (Hygin. l. c.; Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. viii. 54; Aelian, H. A. xii. 45).

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


...Periander, who disclosed the oracle's answer to Thrasybulus, was the son of Cypselus, and sovereign of Corinth. The Corinthians say (and the Lesbians agree) that the most marvellous thing that happened to him in his life was the landing on Taenarus of Arion of Methymna, brought there by a dolphin. This Arion was a lyre-player second to none in that age; he was the first man whom we know to compose and name the dithyramb which he afterwards taught at Corinth.
  They say that this Arion, who spent most of his time with Periander, wished to sail to Italy and Sicily, and that after he had made a lot of money there he wanted to come back to Corinth. Trusting none more than the Corinthians, he hired a Corinthian vessel to carry him from Tarentum.But when they were out at sea, the crew plotted to take Arion's money and cast him overboard. Discovering this, he earnestly entreated them, asking for his life and offering them his money. But the crew would not listen to him, and told him either to kill himself and so receive burial on land or else to jump into the sea at once. Abandoned to this extremity, Arion asked that, since they had made up their minds, they would let him stand on the half-deck in all his regalia and sing; and he promised that after he had sung he would do himself in. The men, pleased at the thought of hearing the best singer in the world, drew away toward the waist of the vessel from the stern. Arion, putting on all his regalia and taking his lyre, stood up on the half-deck and sang the "Stirring Song," and when the song was finished he threw himself into the sea, as he was with all his regalia. So the crew sailed away to Corinth; but a dolphin (so the story goes) took Arion on his back and bore him to Taenarus. Landing there, he went to Corinth in his regalia, and when he arrived, he related all that had happened. Periander, skeptical, kept him in confinement, letting him go nowhere, and waited for the sailors. When they arrived, they were summoned and asked what news they brought of Arion. While they were saying that he was safe in Italy and that they had left him flourishing at Tarentum, Arion appeared before them, just as he was when he jumped from the ship; astonished, they could no longer deny what was proved against them. This is what the Corinthians and Lesbians say, and there is a little bronze memorial of Arion on Taenarus, the figure of a man riding upon a dolphin.
Commentary:
1. The dithyramb was a kind of dance-music particularly associated with the cult of Dionysus.
2. Stirring Song (orthios nomos) was a high-pitched (and apparently very well-known) song or hymn in honor of Apollo.

This extract is from: Herodotus. The Histories (ed. A. D. Godley, 1920), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Oct 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


Methymna, whence came Arion, who, according to a myth told by Herodotus and his followers, safely escaped on a dolphin to Taenarum after being thrown into the sea by the pirates. Now Arion played, and sang to, the cithara; and Terpander, also, is said to have been an artist in the same music and to have been born in the same island, having been the first person to use the seven-stringed instead of the four-stringed lyre, as we are told in the verses attributed to him:
For thee I, having dismissed four-toned song, shall sing new hymns to the tune of a seven-stringed cithara

This extract is from: The Geography of Strabo (ed. H. L. Jones, 1924), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Oct 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


The Dithyramb.The Dorian worship of the gods, and especially of Apollo, had been accompanied from an early time by choral lyrics, to which an artistic development was given by Alcman of Sparta (660 B.C.) and Stesichorus of Himera (620 B.C.). It was reserved for a man of Aeolian origin to perfect one particular species of the poetry which Dorians had made their own.Arion, of Methymna in Lesbos, lived about 600 B.C. He gave a finished form to the dithurambos, or choral hymn in honour of Dionysus. The kuklios choros--i. e. the chorus which stood, or danced, round the altar of Dionysus--received from him a more complete organisation, its number being fixed at fifty. The earliest kuklioi choroi of this kind were trained and produced by Arion at Corinth in the reign of Periander. Pindar alludes to this when he speaks of Corinth as the place where the graces of Dionysus --the joyous song and dance of his festival--were first shown forth, sun boelatai . . . dithuramboi (Olymp. xiii. 19). The epithet boelates which is there given to the dithyramb probably refers to the fact that an ox was the prize, rather than to a symbolical identification of Dionysus with that animal. In one of his lost poems Pindar had connected the origin of the dithyramb with Naxos, and, in another, with Thebes. This is quite consistent with Corinth having been the first home of the matured dithyramb. It is well known that the dithyramb had existed before Arion's time. The earliest occurrence of the word is in Archilochus (circ. 670 B.C.), fr. 79: hos Dionusoi' anaktos kalon exarxai melos | oida dithurambon, oinoi sunkeraunotheis phrenas--a testimony to the impassioned character of the song. Herodotus speaks of Arion as not merely the developer, but the inventor (i. 23); and Aristotle made a similar statement, if we can trust the citation in Photius (ton de arxamenon tes oides Aristoteles Ariona phesin einai, hos protos ton kuklion egage choron: Biblioth. Cod. 239). But it was natural that the man who developed and popularised the dithyramb should have come to figure in tradition as its inventor. The etymology of dithurambos is unknown. Plato conjectures that its original theme was the birth of Dionysus (Legg. p. 700 B). If this was so, at any rate the scope must soon have been enlarged, so as to include all the fortunes of the god.

This extract is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Telesis

Epic poet

Historians

Hellanicus of Lesbos, 5th cent. B.C.

, , 480 - 400
   Hellanicus, (Hellanikos). One of the Greek logographi or chroniclers, born at Mitylene in Lesbos about B.C. 490. He is said to have lived till the age of eighty-five, and to have gone on writing until after B.C. 406. In the course of his long life he composed a series of works on genealogy, chorography, and chronology, of which the fragments are collected by C. and Th. Muller (Paris, 1841). He was the first writer who attempted to introduce a systematic chronological arrangement into the traditional periods of Greek, and especially Athenian, history and mythology. His theories of the ancient Attic chronology were accepted down to the time of Eratosthenes.

Hellanicus, (Hellanikos). Of Mytilene in the island of Lesbos, the most eminent among the Greek logographers. He was the son, according to some, of Andromenes or Aristomenes, and, according to others, of Scamon (Seammon), though this latter may be merely a mistake of Suidas (s. v. Hellanikos). According to the confused account of Suidas, Hellanicus and Herodotus lived together at the court of Amyntas (B. C. 553--504), and Hellanicus was still alive in the reign of Perdiccas, who succeeded to the throne in B. C. 461. This account, however, is irreconcilable with the further statement of Suidas, that Hellanicus was a contemporary of Sophocles and Euripides. Lucian (Macrob. 22) states that Hellanicus died at the age of eighty-five, and the learned authoress Pamphila (ap. Gellium, xv. 23), who likewise makes him a contemporary of Herodotus, says that at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war (B. C. 431), Hellanicus was about sixty-five years old, so that he would have been born about B. C. 496, and died in B. C. 411. This account, which in itself is very probable, seems to be contradicted by a statement of a scholiast (ad Aristoph. Ran. 706), from which it would appear that after the battle of Arginusae, in B. C. 406, Hellanicus was still engaged in writing; but the vague and indefinite expression of that scholiast does not warrant such an inference, and it is moreover clear from Thucydides (i. 97), that in B. C. 404 or 403 Hellanicus was no longer alive. Another authority, all anonymous biographer of Euripides (p. 134 in Westermann's Vitarum Scriptores Graeci minores, Brunswick, 1845), states that Hellanicus was born on the day of the battle of Salamis, that is, on the 20th of Boedromion B. C. 481, and that he received his name from the victory of Hellas over the barbarians; but this account is too much like an invention of some grammarian to account for the name Hellanicus, and deserves no credit; and among the various contradictory statements we are inclined to adopt that of Pamphila. Respecting the life of Hellanicus we are altogether in the dark, and we only learn from Suidas that he died at Perperene, a town on the coast of Asia Minor opposite to Lesbos ; we may, however, presume that he visited at least some of the countries of whose history he treated.
  Hellanicus was a very prolific writer, and if we were to look upon all the titles that have come down to us as titles of genuine productions and distinct works, their number would amount to nearly thirty; but the recent investigations of Preller (De Hellanico Lesbio Historico, Dorpat, 1840, 4to.) have shown that several works bearing his name are spurious and of later date, and that many others which are referred to as separate works, are only chapters or sections of other works. We adopt Preller's arrangement, and first mention those works which were spurious. 1. Aiguptiaka. The late origin of this production is obvious from the fragment quoted by Arrian (Dissert. Epictet. ii. 19) and Gellius (i. 2; comp. Athen. xi., xv.) 2. Eis Ammonos anabasis, which is mentioned by Athenaeus (xiv.), who, however, doubts its genuineness. 3. Barbarika nomima, which, even according to the opinions of the ancients, was a compilation made from the works of Herodotus and Damastes. (Euseb. Praep. Evang. ix.; comp. Suid. s.v. Zamolxis; Etymol. Mag. p. 407. 48.) 4. Ethnon onomasiai, which seems to have been a similar compilation. (Athen. xi. ; comp. Herod. iv. 190.) It may have been the same work as the one which we find referred to under the name of Peri ethnon (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod, iv. 322), Ktiseis ethnon kai poleon, or simply ktiseis. (Steph. Byz. s. v. Charimatai; Athen. x.) Stephanus of Byzantium refers to some other works under the name of Hellanicus, such as Kupriaka, ta peri Ludian, and Skuthika, of which we cannot say whether they were parts of another work, perhaps the Persika (of which we shall speak presently). The Phoinikika mentioned by Cedrenus (Synops.), and the historiai (Athen. ix., where hiereiais must probably be read for historiais; Theodoret, de Aff.), probably never existed at all, and are wrong titles. There is one work referred to by Fulgentius (Myth. i. 2), called Dios polutuchia, the very title of which is a mystery, and is otherwise unknown.
  Setting aside these works, which were spurious, or at least of very doubtful character, we proceed to enumerate the genuine productions of Hellanicus, according to the three divisions under which they are arranged by Preller, viz. genealogical, chorographical, and chronological works.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Works of Hellanicus

I. Genealogical works. It is a very probable opinion of Preller, that Apollodorus, in writing his Bibliotheca, followed principally the genealogical works of Hellanicus, and he accordingly arranges the latter in the following order, agreeing with that in which Apollodorus treats of his subjects. 1. Deukalioneia, in two books, containing the Thessalian traditions about the origin of man, and about Deucalion and his descendants down to the time of the Argonauts. (Clem. Alex. Strom. vi.) The Phettalika referred to by Harpoeration (s. v. tetrarchia) were either the same work or a portion of it. 2. Phoronis, in two books, contained the Pelasgian and Argive traditions from the time of Phoroneus and Ogyges down to Heracles, perhaps even down to the return of the Heracleidae. (Dionys. i. 28.) The works Peri Arkadias (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. i. 162), Argolika (Schol. ad Hom. Il. iii. 75), and Boiotika (ibid. iii. 494) were either the same work as the Phoronis or portions of it. 3. Atlantias, in two books, containing the stories about Atlas and his descendants. (Harpocrat. s. v. Homeridai; Schol. ad Hom. Il. xviii. 486.) 4. Troika, in two books, beginning with the time of Dardanus. (Harpocrat. s. v. Krithote; Schol. ad Hom. Il.) The Adopis was only a portion of the Troica. (Marcellin. Vit. Thue. § 4.)
II. Chorographical works. 1. Atthis, or a history of Attica, consisting of at least four books. The first contained the history of the mythical period ; the second was principally occupied with the history and antiquities of the Attic demi; the contents of the third and fourth are little known, but we know that Hellanicus treated of the Attic colonies established in Ionia, and of the subsequent events down to his own time. (Preller; comp. Thuc. i. 97.) 2. Aiolika, or the history of the Aeolians in Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean. The Lesbiaca and Peri Chiou ktiseos seem to have formed sections of the Aeolica. (Tzetz. ad Lyeoph. 1374; Schol. ad Pind. Nem. xi. 43, ad Hom. Od. viii. 294.) 3. Persika, in two books, contained the history of Persia, Media, and Assyria from the time of Ninus to that of Hellanicus himself, as we may gather from the fragments still extant, and as is expressly stated by Cephalion in Syncellus (p. 315, ed. Dindorf).
III. Chronological works. 1. Hiereiai tes Heras in three books, contained a chronological list of the priestesses of Hera at Argos. There existed undonbtedly at Argos in the temple of Hera records in the form of annals, which ascended to the earliest times for which they were made up from oral traditions. Hellanicus made use of these records, but his work was not a mere meagre list, but he incorporated in it a variety of traditions and historical events, for which there was no room in any of his other works, and he thus produced a sort of chronicle. It was one of the earliest attempts to regulate chronology, and was afterwards made use of by Thucydides (ii. 2, iv. 1, 33), Timaeus (Polyb. xii. 12), and others. (Comp. Plut. De Mus.; Preller, l. c.) 2. Karneonikai, or a chronological list of the victors in the musical and poetical contests at the festival of the Carneia. This work may be regarded as the first attempt towards a history of literature in Greece. A part of this work, or perhaps an early edition of it, is said to have been in verse. (Athen. xiv.) Suidas states that Hellanicus wrote many works both in prose and in verse; but of the latter kind nothing is known.
  All the productions of Hellanicus are lost, with the exception of a considerable number of fragments. Although he belongs, strictly speaking, to the logographers (Dionys. Jud. de Thuc. 5; Diod. i. 37), still he holds a much higher place among the early Greek historians than any of those who are designated by the name of logographers. He forms the transition from that class of writers to the real historians; for he not only treated of the mythical ages, but, in several instances, he carried history down to his own times. But, as far as the form of history is concerned, he had not emancipated himself from the custom and practice of other logographers, for, like them, he. treated history from local points of view, and divided it into such portions as might be related in the form of genealogies. Hence he wrote local histories and traditions. This circumstance, and the many differences in his accounts from those of Herodotus, renders it highly probable that these two writers worked quite independently of each other, and that the one was unknown to the other. It cannot be matter of surprise that, in regard to early traditions, he was deficient in historical criticism, and we may believe Thucydides (i. 97), who says that Hellanicus wrote the history of later times briefly, and that he was not accurate in his chronology. In his geographical views, too, he seems to have been greatly dependent upon his predecessors, and gave, for the most part, what he found in them; whence Agathemerus (i. 1), who calls him an aner poluistor, remarks that he aplastos paredoke ten historian; but the censure for falsehood and the like bestowed on him by such writers as Ctesias (ap. Phot. Bibl. Cod. 72), Theopompus (ap. Strab. i.), Ephorus (up. Joseph. c. Apion, i. 3; comp. Strab. viii.), and Strabo (x., xi., xiii.), is evidently one-sided, and should not bias us in forming our judgment of his merits or demerits as a writer; for there can be no doubt that he was a learned and diligent compiler, and that so far as his sources went, he was a trustworthy one. His fragments are collected in Sturz, Hellanici Lesbii Fragmenta, Lips. 1796, 8vo., 2d edition 11826; in the Museum Criticum,vol.ii., Camb. 1826 ; and in C. and Th. Muller, Fragmenta Histor. Graec. (Dahlmann, Herodot., Muller, Hist. of Greek Lit., and especially the work of Preller above referred to.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Chorizontes. "Separators." A name given to such of the ancient scholars and critics as held the belief that the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer were written by different authors. The names of only two of these critics -Xenon and Hellanicus- have come down to us.

Hermeias of Methymne

Of the historians, Hermeias of Methymne brought to a close with this year his narrative of Sicilian affairs, having composed ten books, or, as some divide the work, twelve.
Commentary: One fragment of the Sicilian history of Hermeias remains (Athenaeus 10.438c; also FHG, 2.80.1). The history seems to have dealt mainly with the Elder Dionysius with perhaps a brief introduction on earlier Sicilian affairs.

Hermeias. Of Methymna in Lesbos, the author of a history of Sicily, the third book of which is quoted by Athenaeus (x. ); but we know from Diodorus Siculus (xv. 37) that Hermeias related the history of Sicily down to the year B. C. 376, and that the whole work was divided into ten or twelve books. Stephanus Byzantius (s. v. Chalkis) speaks of a Periegesis of Hermeias, and Athenaeus (iv.) quotes the second book of a work Peri tou Gruneion Apollonos, by one Hermeias, but whether both or either of them is identical with the historian of Sicily is quite uncertain.

Myrsilus

A Lesbian historical writer of uncertain date; one of the sources used by Dionysius of Halicarnassus in his account of the Pelasgians (i. 23).

Tyrants

Aristonicus

Aristonicus (Aristonikos), a tyrant of Methymnae in Lesbos. In B. C. 332, when the navarchs of Alexander the Great had already taken possession of the harbour of Chios, Aristonicus arrived during the night with some privateer ships, and entered it under the belief that it was still in the hands of the Persians. He was taken prisoner and delivered up to the Methymnaeans, who put him to death in a cruel manner. (Arrian, Anab. iii. 2; Curtius, iv. 4)

Philosophers

Echecratides

Echecratides, (Echekratides), a Peripatetic philosopher, who is mentioned among the disciples of Aristotle. He is spoken of only by Stephanus of Byzantium (s. v. Methumna), from whom we learn that he was a native of Methymna in Lesbos.

Related to the place

Herodes

In the course of it, we happened to meet with a storm which forced us to put in at a place within the territory of Methymna, where the boat on to which Herodes transhipped, and on which the prosecution maintain that he met his end, lay at anchor.

Archippus

(Athenian) lost his life at Methymna while serving as trierarch.

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