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Biographies (4)

Poets

Rhianus, Rhianos

, , 276 - 196

Rhianus, (Rhianos) of Crete. A distinguished Alexandrian poet and grammarian, who flourished in B.C. 222. Some of his epigrams are present in the Greek Anthology. His remains are edited by Saal (Bonn, 1831).


  Before I wrote the history of the war and all the sufferings and actions that heaven prepared in it for both sides, I wished to reach a decision regarding the age of a certain Messenian. This war was fought between the Lacedaemonians with their allies and the Messenians with their supporters, but received its name not from the invaders like the Persian and Peloponnesian wars, but was called Messenian from their disasters, just as the name Trojan war, rather than Greek, came to be universally applied to the war at Troy. An account of this war of the Messenians has been given by Rhianus of Bene in his epic, and by Myron of Priene. Myron's history is in prose. Neither writer achieved a complete and continuous account of the whole war from its beginning to the end, but only of the part which each selected: Myron narrated the capture of Ampheia and subsequent events down to the death of Aristodemus; Rhianus did not touch this first war at all. He described the events that in time befell the Messenians after their revolt from the Lacedaemonians, not indeed the whole of them, but those subsequent to the battle which they fought at the Great Trench, as it is called. The Messenian, Aristomenes, on whose account I have made my whole mention of Rhianus and Myron, was the man who first and foremost raised the name of Messene to renown. He was introduced by Myron into his history, while to Rhianus in his epic Aristomenes is as great a man as is the Achilles of the Iliad to Homer. As their statements differ so widely, it remained for me to adopt one or other of the accounts, but not both together, and Rhianus appeared to me to have given the more probable account as to the age of Aristomenes. (Paus. 4.6.1)
Commentary: Rhianus of Bene in Crete was of the third century B.C., a Homeric scholar and the author of various works of a mythological and quasi-historical character. Besides his Messeniaca, largely used by the author in the present account, we hear of his Heracleia, Achaica, Eliaca, and Thessalica.

This extract is from: Pausanias. Description of Greece (ed. W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., & H.A. Ormerod, 1918). Cited Oct 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.



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