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Monday, August 15, 2016

019 - Poets and Wise Rulers

In this episode, we discuss part 2 of 2 on the influential poets whose writings gives us insight into the economic, social, and political happenings that reshaped archaic age Greece; in particular, we look at the turbulent history of late 7th and early 6th century BC Mytilene, which finds itself at the intersection of two great poets (Alcaeus and Sappho), tyranny, and one of the so-called "Seven Sages", making it a perfect case study; and in response to all of these enormous economic, social, and political changes arose the phenomenon of the lawgiver, many of which were among the "Seven Sages"

ca. 625 BC - the Penthiliadai, the ruling family of Mytilene, were ousted, leading to rival factions competing for power on Lesbos
ca. 610 BC - the tyrant Melanchrus was ousted by a faction that included Alcaeus' brothers and Pittacus; Myrsilus became the next tyrant
ca. 605 BC - Myrsilus dies, Athens challenges Mytilene for control of Sigeion in the Troad, an event which was arbitrated by Periander in favor of Athens
ca. 600 BC - political unrest once again took root on Lesbos, which forced both of the poets Sappho and Alcaeus into exile
ca. 590 BC - the Mytileneans entrusted Pittacus with absolute power to heal the sores of the city; in doing so, he recalled all exiles and enacted a general amnesty
ca. 590-580 BC - Sappho instituted a school of music and poetry for upper-class women on Lesbos, and she became so close with her pupils there that it later gave rise to the homoerotic notion of "Lesbian"
578 BC - Pittacus lays down absolute power and retires from political life

Poets Discussed:
Pittacus of Lesbos (648-568 BC)
Sappho and Alcaeus of Lesbos (ca. 630-570 BC)
Bias of Priene (fl. 6th century BC)
Cleobulus of Rhodes (fl. 6th century BC)
Aesop (620-564 BC)
Stesichorus of Metauros (ca. 630-555 BC)
Earliest stages of the Gortyn legal code (ca. 600-525 BC)
Theognis of Megara (fl. 550 BC)
Phocylides of Miletus (fl. 550 BC)
Hipponax of Ephesus (fl. 550 BC)
Anacreon of Teos (ca. 570-485 BC)
Ibycus of Rhegium (fl. 525 BC)

Greek wordsepithalmia (wedding songs), kakopatrides (low-born), aisymnetes ("supervisor", ruler that is not quite a tyrannos but similar to Latin dictator), sophoi (wise men), stesai (chorus of singers to the kithara), nomoi (laws sanctioned by precedent), eunomia (condition of having good laws well obeyed), metrokoites (mother**ker)













Recommended Sources for Further Reading:
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