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SIMONIDES OF CEOS (c. 556-469 B.C.)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 133 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIMONIDES OF CEOS (c. 556-469 B.C.), Greek lyric poet, was born at Iulis in the island of Ceos. During his youth he taught poetry and music in his native island, and composed paeans for the festivals of Apollo. Finding little scope for his abilities at home, he went to live at Athens, at the court of Hipparchus, the patron of literature. After the murder of Hipparchus (514), Simonides withdrew to Thessaly, where he enjoyed the protection and patronage of the Scopadae and Aleuadae (two celebrated Thessalian families). An interesting story is told of the termination of his relations with the Scopadae. On a certain occasion he was reproached by Scopas for having allotted too much space to the Dioscuri in an ode celebrating the victory of his patron in a chariot-race. Scopas refused topay all the fee and told Simonides to apply to the Dioscuri for the remainder. The incident took place at a banquet. Shortly afterwards, Simonides was told that two young men wished to speak to him; after he had left the banqueting room, the roof fell in and crushed Scopas and his guests (Cicero, De oratore, ii. 86). There seems no doubt that some disaster overtook the Scopadae, which resulted in the extinction of the family. After the battle of Marathon Simonides returned to Athens, but soon left for Sicily at the invitation of Hiero, at whose court he spent the rest of his life. His reputation as a man of learning is shown by the tradition that he introduced the distinction between the long and short vowels (e, ,l, o, w), afterwards adopted in the Ionic alphabet which came into general use during the archonship of Eucleides (403). He was also the inventor of a system of mnemonics (Quintilian xi. 2, II). So unbounded was his popularity that he was a power even in the political world; we are told that he reconciled Thero and Hiero on the eve of a battle between their opposing armies. He was the intimate friend of Themistodes and Pausanias the Spartan, and his poems on the war of liberation against Persia no doubt gave a powerful impulse to the national patriotism. For his poems he could command almost any price: later writers, from Aristophanes onwards, accuse him of avarice, probably not without some reason. To Hiero's queen, who asked him whether it was better to be born rich or a genius, he replied " Rich, for genius is ever found at the gates of the rich." Again, when someone asked him to write a laudatory poem for which he offered profuse thanks, but no money, Simonides replied that he kept two coffers, one for thanks, the. other for money; that, when he opened them, he found the former empty and useless, and the latter full. Of his poetry we possess two or three short elegies (Fr. 85 seems from its style and versification to belong to Simonides of Amorgos, or at least not to be the work of our poet), several epigrams and about ninety fragments of lyric poetry. The epigrams written in the usual dialect of elegy, Ionic with an epic colouring, were in-tended partly for public and partly for private monuments. There is strength and sublimity in the former, with a simplicity that is almost statuesque, and a complete mastery over the rhythm and forms of elegiac expression. Those on the heroes of Marathon and Thermopylae are the most celebrated. In the private epigrams there is more warmth of colour and feeling, but few of them rest on any better authority than that of the Palatine anthology. One interesting and undoubtedly genuine epigram of this class is upon Archedice, the daughter of Hippias the Peisistratid, who, " albeit her father and husband and brother and children were all princes, was not lifted up in soul to pride." The lyric fragments vary much in character and length : one is from a poem on Artemisium, celebrating those who fell at Thermopylae, with which he gained the victory over Aeschylus; another is an ode in honour of Scopas (commented on in Plato, Protagoras, 339 b) ; the rest are from odes on victors in the games, hyporchemes, dirges, hymns to the gods and other varieties. The poem on Thermopylae is reverent and sublime, breathing an exalted patriotism and a lofty national pride; the others are full of tender pathos and deep feeling, combined with a genial worldliness. For Simonides requires no standard of lofty unswerving rectitude. " It is hard," he says (Fr. 5), " to become a truly good man, perfect as a square in hands and feet and mind, fashioned without blame. Whosoever is bad, and not too wicked, knowing justice, the benefactor of cities, is a sound man. I for one will find no fault with him, for the race of fools is infinite. . . I praise and love all men who do no sin willingly; but with necessity even the gods do not contend." Virtue, he tells us elsewhere in language that recalls Hesiod, is set on a high and difficult hill (Fr. 58) ; let us seek after pleasure, for " all things come to one dread Charybdis, both great virtues and wealth " (Fr. 38). Yet Simomdes is far from being a hedonist; his morality, no less than his art, is pervaded by that virtue for which Ceos was renowned—awcbpoobv,1 or self-restraint. His most celebrated fragment is a dirge, in which Danae, adrift with the infant Perseus on the sea in a dark and stormy night, takes comfort from the peaceful slumber of her babe. Simonides here illustrates his own saying that '' poetry is vocal painting, as painting is silent poetry." Of the many English translations of this poem, one of the best is that by J. A. Symonds in Studies on the Greek Poets. Fragments in T. Bergk, Poetae lyrici Graeci; standard edition by F. G. Schneidewin (1835) and of the Dana alone by H. L. Ahrens (1853). Other authorities are given in the exhaustive treatise of E. Cesati, Simonide di Ceo (1882) ; see also W. Schroter, De Simonidis Ces melici sermone (1906). SIMON'S TOWN, a gown and station of the British navy in the Cape province, South Africa, in 340 15' S., 18° 30' E., on the shores of Simon's Bay, an inlet on the west side of False Bay. It is 222 M. S. of Cape Town by rail and 17 M. N. of Cape Point (the Cape of Good Hope). Apart from the naval station the town (pop. 1904, 6642) is an educational and residential centre, enjoying an excellent climate with a mean minimum temperature of 57° and a mean maximum of 700 F. Owing to the influence of the Mozambique current the temperature of the water in the bay is 1o' to 12° F. higher than that of Table Bay, hence Simon's Town and other places along the shores of False Bay are favourite bathing resorts. The naval establishment is the headquarters of the East India and Cape Squadron. In 190o the yard covered about 13 acres, exclusive of the victualling establishment and naval hospital, and was provided with a small camber, slipways for torpedo-boats and small vessels, together with various dockyard buildings, storehouses, coal stores, &c., but had no dry dock or deep-water wharf. Under the Naval Works Loan Act of 1899 £2,500,000 was provided for the construction of additional docks east of the original naval yard. These works were begun in 1900 and completed in 1910. They consist of a tidal basin 28 acres in extent, with a depth of 3o ft. at low-water spring tides, enclosed by a breakwater on the eastern and northern sides and a similar projecting arm or pier on the west. The entrance to the basin faces north-westerly, and is 300 ft. in width. South of the basin is a large reclaimed area forming the site of the new dockyard. Opening from the basin is a dry dock, 75o ft. in length on blocks, with an entrance 95 ft. wide and having 3o ft. over the sill at low-water spring tides. The foundation stone of the dry dock was laid in November 1906 by the earl of Selborne, after whom it is named, and the dock was opened in November 1910 by the duke of Connaught. The Selborne dock can be subdivide& by an intermediate caisson in such a manner as to form two docks, respectively 400 it. and 32o ft. in length, or 47o ft. and 25o ft. in length on blocks, as may be required, or the full length of 75o ft. can be made available. The dockyard buildings include extensive shops for the chief engineer's and chief constructor's departments, the pumping-engine house, working sheds, &c., while ample space is reserved for additional docks and buildings. Berthing accommodation is provided in the basin alongside the wharf walls which surround it. The walls available for this purpose have a total length of 2585 ft. lineal, are constructed of interlocked concrete block work, with an available depth of water of 3o ft. at low water, and are furnished with powerful shear-legs and cranes for the use of vessels alongside. Extensive sheds for the storage of coal are provided. The whole of the dockyard area (35 acres), including the enclosing breakwater and pier, was formed by reclamation from the sea; and the total area of the new works, including the tidal basin, is 63 acres. False Bay, which corresponds on the south to Table Bay on the north side of Table Mountain, is a spacious inlet which has an average depth of from 15 to 20 fathoms, and is completely sheltered on all sides except towards the south. Here a whole fleet of the largest vessels can ride at anchor. Defensive works protect the entrance to the bay. Simon's Town dates from the close of the 17th century, the town and bay being named after Simon van der Stell, governor of the Cape in 1679-1699. It was at Simon's Town that the first British landing in Cape Colony was made by General Sir fames Craig in 1795. About 1810 the bay was selected as the base for the South African squadron, Table Bay being abandoned for that purpose in consequence of its exposed position.
End of Article: SIMONIDES OF CEOS (c. 556-469 B.C.)
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