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Poets

Lesches of Pyrrha


   (Lesches) or Lescheus (Lescheus). A Cyclic poet, a native of Mitylene or Pyrrha, in the island of Lesbos, and considerably later than Arctinus. The best authorities concur in placing him in the time of Archilochus, or about B.C. 708-676. Hence the account which we find in ancient authors, of a contest between Arctinus and Lesches, can only mean that the latter competed with the earlier poet in treating the same subjects. His poem, in four books, which was attributed by many to Homer, and, besides, to very different authors, was called the "Little Iliad" (Ilias Mikra), and was clearly intended as a supplement to the great Iliad. It is learned from Aristotle that it comprised the events before the fall of Troy, the fate of Aiax, the exploits of Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, and Odysseus, which led to the taking of the city, as well as the account of the destruction of Troy itself; which statement is confirmed by numerous fragments. The last part of this (like the first part of the poem of Arctinus) was called the "Destruction of Troy"(Iliou Persis), from which Pausanias makes several quotations with reference to the sacking of Troy and the partition and carrying away of the prisoners.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Lesches, Lescheus, one of the so-called cyclic poets, the son of Aeschylinus, a native of Pyrrha, in the neighbourhood of Mytilene (Paus. x. 25, 5), and thence also called a Mytilenean or a Lesbian. He flourished about the 18th Olympiad; and therefore the tale, which is related about a contest between him and Arctinus, who lived about the beginning of the Olympiads, is an anachronism. This tradition is explained by the fact that Lesches treated, at least to some extent, the same events in his Little Iliad (Ilias he elasson or Ilias mikra), which were the subject of Arctinus's Aethiopis. The little Ilias, like all the other cyclic poems, was ascribed to various poets -to Homer himself, to Thestorides of Phocaea (Herod. Vit. Hom. 16), to the Lacedaemonian Cinaethon, and Diodorus of Erythrae. The poem consisted of four books, according to Proclus, who has preserved an extract from it. It was evidently intended as a supplement to the Homeric Iliad; consequently it related the events after the death of Hector, the fate of Ajax, the exploits of Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, and Ulysses, and the final capture and destruction of Troy (Arist. Poct. 23, Bekk.), which part of the poem was called The Destruction of Troy (Iliou persis). There was no unity in the poem, except that of historical and chronological succession. Hence Aristotle remarks that the little Iliad furnished materials for eight tragedies, whilst only one could be based upon the Iliad or Odyssey of Homer. The extracts which Proclus gives of the poem of Lesches are interwoven with those from the Aethiopis of Arctinus. It is not to be presumed, as Miiller shows (Hist. of Greek Lit. vi. 3), that either poet should have broken off in the middle of an event, in order that the other might fill up the gap. The different times at which they lived is sufficient proof to the contrary, and there are fragments extant which show that Lesches had treated of those events also which in Proclus's extract are not taken from him, but from Arctinus. (Comp. Welcker, der Epische Cydus, pp. 272, 358, 368.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2006 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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