1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Phocylides

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PHOCYLIDES, Greek gnomic poet of Miletus, contemporary of Theognis, was born about 560 B.C. A few fragments of his “maxims” have been preserved (chiefly in the Florilegium of Stobaeus), in which he expresses his contempt for the pomps and vanities of rank and wealth, and sets forth in simple language his ideas of honour, justice and wisdom. A complete didactic poem (230 hexameters) called Ποίημα νουθετικόν or γνῶμαι, bearing the name of Phocylides, is now considered to be the work of an Alexandrian Christian of Jewish origin who lived between 170 B.C. and A.D. 50. The Jewish element is shown in verbal agreement with passages of the Old Testament (especially the book of Sirach); the Christian by the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. Some Jewish authorities, however, maintain that there are in reality no traces of Christan doctrine to be found in the poem, and that the author was a Jew. The poem was first printed at Venice in 1495, and was a favourite school textbook during the Reformation period.

See fragments and the spurious poem in T. Bergk, Poetae lyrici graeci, ii. (4th ed., 1882), J. Bernays, Über das Phokylideische Gedicht (1858); Phocylides, Poem of Admonition, with introduction and commentaries by J. B. Fenling, and translation by H. D. Goodwin (Andover, Mass., 1879); F. Susemihl, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur in der Alexandrinerzeit, (1892), ii 642; S. Krauss (s.v. “Pseudo-Phocylides”) in The Jewish Encyclopedia and E. Schürer, Hist. of the Jewish People, div. ii., vol. iii, 313-316 (Eng. trans., 1886), where full bibliographies are given. There is an English verse translation by W. Hewett (Watford, 1840), The Perceptive Poem of Phocylides.