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Simonides of Amorgos

Simonides (or Semontoes) of Amorgos, Greek iambic poet, flourished in the middle of the 7th century BC. He was a native of Samos, and derived his surname from having founded a colony in the neighbouring island of Amorgos.

According to Suidas, besides two books of iambics, he wrote elegies, one of them a poem on the early history of the Samians. The elegy included in the fragments (85) of Simonides of Ceos is more probably by Simonides of Amorgos. We possess about thirty fragments of his iambic poems, written in clear and vigorous Ionic, with much force and no little harmony of versification.

With Simonides, as with Archilochus of Paros, the iambic is still the vehicle of bitter satire, interchanging with melancholy, but in Simonides the satire is rather general than individual. His "Pedigree of Women" may have been suggested by the beast fable, as we find it in Hesiod and Archilochus, and as it recurs a century later in Phocylides; it is clear at least that Simonides knew the works of the former. Simonides derives the dirty woman from a hog, the cunning from a fox, the fussy from a dog, the apathetic from earth, the capricious from sea-water, the stubborn from an ass, the incontinent from a weasel, the proud from a high-bred mare, the worst and ugliest from an ape, and the good woman from a bee. The remainder of the poem (96-118) is undoubtedly spurious. There is much beauty and feeling in Simonides's description of the good woman.

See Fragments in T Bergk, Poetae lyrici Graeci; separate editions by FG Welcker (1835), and especially by P Malusa (1900), with exhaustive introduction, bibliography and commentary.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.