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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 702 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CYPSELTJS, tyrant of Corinth (c. 657–627 B.C.), was the son. of Aeetion and Labda, daughter of Amphion, a member of the ruling family, the Bacchiadae. He is said to have derived his name from the fact that when the Bacchiadae, warned that he would prove their ruin, sent emissaries to kill him in his cradle, his mother saved him by concealing hirh in a chest (Gr.evi/Ekrl). The story was, of course, a subsequent invention. When he was grown up, Cypselus, encouraged by an oracle, drove out the Bacchiadae, and made himself master of Corinth. It is stated that he first ingratiated himself with the people by his liberal conduct when Polemarch, in which capacity he had to exact the fines imposed by the law. In the words of Aristotle he made his way through demagogy to tyranny. Herodotus, in the spirit of 5th-century Greeks, which conventionally regarded the tyrants as selfish despots, says he ruled harshly, but he is generally represented as mild, beneficent and so popular as to be able to dispense with a bodyguard, the usual attribute of a tyrannis. He pursued an energetic commercial and colonial policy (see CORINTH), and thus laid the foundations of Corinthian prosperity. He may well be compared with the Athenian Peisistratus in these respects. He laid out the large sums thus derived on the construction of buildings and works of art. At the same time he wisely strove to gain the goodwill of the powerful priest hoods of the great sanctuaries of Delphi and Olympia. At Delphi he built a treasure-house for Corinthian votive offerings; at Olympia he dedicated a colossal statue of Zeus and the famous " chest of Cypselus," supposed to be identical with the chest of the legend, of which Pausanias (v. 17- 19) has given an elaborate description. It was of cedar-wood, gold and ivory, and on it were represented the chief incidents in Greek (especially Corinthian) mythology and legend. Cypselus was succeeded by his son Periander. See CORINTH: History; histories of Greece; Herodotus v. 92; Aristotle, Politics, 1310 b, 1315 b; P. Knapp, Die Kypseliden and die Kypseloslade (Tubingen, 1888) ; L. Preller, Ausgewahlte Aufsdtze (1864) ; H. Stuart Jones, in Journ. Hell. Stud. (1894), 30 foil: romance-writer and dramatist, son of Abel de Cyrano, seigneur de Mauvieres et de Bergerac, was born in Paris on the 6th of March 1619–1620. He received his first education from a country priest, and had for a fellow pupil his friend and future biographer, Henri Lebret. He then proceeded to Paris to the college de Beauvais, where he had for master Jean Grangier, whom he afterwards ridiculed in his comedy Le Pedant joist' (1654). At the age of nineteen he entered a corps of the guards, serving in the campaigns of 1639 and 1640, and began the series of exploits that were to make of him a veritable hero of romance. The story of his adventure single-handed against a hundred enemies is vouched for by Lebret as the simple truth. After two years of this life Cyrano left the service and returned to Paris to pursue literature, producing tragedies cast in the orthodox classical mode. He was, however, as a pupil of Gassendi; suspected of thinking too freely, and in the Mort d'Agrippine (1654) his enemies even found blasphemy. The most interesting section of his work is that which embraces the two romances L'Histoire comique des etats du soleil (1662) and L'Histoire comique des etats de la lime (1656?). Cyrano's ingenious mixture of science and romance has furnished a model for many subsequent writers, among them Swift and E. A. Poe. It is impossible to determine whether he adopted his fanciful style in the hope of safely conveying ideas that might be regarded as unorthodox, or whether he simply found in romance writing a relaxation from the serious study of physics. Cyrano spent a stormy existence in Paris and was involved in many duels, and in quarrels with the comedian Montfleury, with Scarron and others. He entered the household of the duc d'Arpajon as secretary in 1653. In the next year he was injured by the fall of a piece of timber, as he entered his patron's house. Arpajon, perhaps alarmed by his reputation as a free-thinker, desired him to leave, and he found refuge with friends in Paris. During the illness which followed his accident, he is said to have been reconciled with the Church, and he died in September 1655• M. Edmond Rostand's romantic play of Cyrano de Bergerac (1897) revived interest in the author of the Histoires comiques. A modern edition of his Euvres (2 vols.), by P. L. Jacob (Paul Lacroix), 'appeared in 1858, with the preface by H. Lebret originally prefixed to the Histoire comique des etats de la lime (1656?). For an interesting ,analysis of the romances see Garnet Smith in the Cornhill for July 1898. See also P. A. Brun, Savinien de Cyrano Bergerac (1894). Other studies of Cyrano are those of Charles Nodier (1841), F. Merilhon (Perigueux, 1856), Fourgeaud-Lagreze (in Le Perigord litteraire, 1875) and of Theophile Gautier, in his Grotesques.
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