Solon and Theognis Paper

Solon and Theognis Paper - 1 Solon and Theognis...

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1 Solon and Theognis Introduction Starting in about the sixth century BC, the epic poetry of Homer and fellow poets started to decline and a new style of poetry took its place. By the acceptance of the Greek alphabet, there was no need for someone, like Homer, to remember all the epics and poems that, in the past, everyone memorized and passed down by word of mouth. In effect, the lyric age swept the Greek city-states and it became the new style of poetry that everyone soon understood and accepted. Now, instead of Homer being the premier poet of the time, new and original poets became popular and found a place for themselves in the time of the lyric age and in the history of Greek culture. Most of all the new poetry was written down onto clay tablets and accordingly, we have some fragments of the works of the past and famous poets of the lyric age. These include poets such as Solon, Theognis, Archilochos, Alceaus, Sappho, Pindar and Tytraeus to name a few. Of this group of extraordinary poets, two stand out in the ways that they wrote and expressed their feelings- Solon and Theognis. They were able to effectively reach into the minds of humans and tell the us what challenges, frustrates and even what defeats humans and how we, the mortals, can deal and respond to these frustrations and defeats. Also, both of these poets commented on the present and potential uprising of a new government and what could be done to reject the ruthless pushing of such tyrannical power. The Poet, Theognis Theognis lived in the sixth century BC in the city of Megara. He was an aristocrat who lost out in the political struggles of his city because he was exiled for quite some time. He felt that the different social classes should not intermix and wanted them to stay separate because he
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2 did not like the idea of losing his power to a newer group of citizens who were claiming all the political power. In order to combat this ‘problem’, he encouraged the idea of people not communicating and interacting with the people of different classes. When he referred to the classes of people, he called them either good or bad. People either belonged to good families or people belonged to bad families. These terms, too, could be used as social and moral labels meaning noble and good or bad, low-class and wicked. By understanding this, the poetry of Theognis makes much more sense and one can see his dislike for the assimilation of the different classes. Theognis’ Advice In the collection of the fragments of Theognis, he repeatedly refers to a boy named Kyrnos and throughout the poem, Theognis is guiding him with moral and political advice. Line 19 says “As I compose them, Kyrnos,…” (35) This is immediately a symbol of the race of human beings, more specifically the people of Theognis’ community. It already shows that the advice he is about to give is for everyone and everyone must listen in order to better their city- state. If humans do not listen then there will be destruction within the area and can eventually
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This note was uploaded on 05/31/2011 for the course CLAS 121 taught by Professor Smith during the Spring '07 term at UNC.

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Solon and Theognis Paper - 1 Solon and Theognis...

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