In This Article Stesichorus of Himera

  • Introduction
  • Editions and Commentaries
  • Textual Work Outside Editions
  • General Studies
  • Historical Context
  • Performance
  • Stesichorus and Epic
  • Stesichorus and Lyric
  • Stesichorus and Tragedy
  • Stesichorus’s Language
  • Geryoneis
  • Sack of Troy
  • Helen and Palinodes
  • Thebais
  • Oresteia
  • Boarhunters
  • Nostoi (The Returns)
  • Other Fragments
  • Reception and Influence

Classics Stesichorus of Himera
by
P. J. Finglass
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0337

Introduction

Stesichorus was a Greek poet from the first half of the 6th century BCE. Born probably in Metaurus in South Italy (today’s Gioia Tauro), he subsequently settled in Himera on the north coast of Sicily. His poetry consists of vivid mythological narratives, thousands of lines long, in lyric verse—that is, they are designed to be sung, in contrast to the recited epic poems of Homer, with which Stesichorus’s poetry creatively interacts. Stesichorus’s works were performed by a singing and dancing chorus—his very name means “he who sets up the chorus”—and were intended not merely for local festivals but for audiences across the Greek world. Stesichorus’s works had a considerable influence on later Greek poetry, especially tragedy; collected into twenty-six books in the Hellenistic period, they survived until roughly the 3rd century CE. For more than a millennium the only remains of Stesichorus’s oeuvre were quotations and paraphrases buried in the text of writers whose works did survive antiquity; but since the 1950s several ancient papyri, many of them extensive texts, have been published which furnish us with a clearer picture of one of the great poets of antiquity.

Editions and Commentaries

The most up-to-date text containing all the fragments of Stesichorus’s poetry, in Greek and with an English translation, is Finglass 2014b; this is accompanied by a detailed introduction to Stesichorus and his poetry (Finglass 2014a), and a commentary (Finglass 2014c, Davies and Finglass 2014). The standard edition of the testimonia (i.e., references to Stesichorus in other ancient sources) is Ercoles 2013. Earlier editions include Campbell 1991 (fragments and testimonia, with English translation) and Davies 1991 (fragments only, no translation). Budelmann 2018 contains some of the Geryoneis fragments with a commentary.

  • Budelmann, F. 2018. Greek lyric: A selection. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Contains some of the Geryoneis fragments with a commentary as part of a helpful introduction to Archaic and classical lyric poetry as a whole.

  • Campbell, D. A. 1991. Greek lyric. Vol. 3, Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and others. Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Pages 28–199 contain an edition of Stesichorus’s fragments and testimonia (excluding the very shortest), with a helpful English translation.

  • Davies, M. 1991. Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum Fragmenta. Vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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    Contains edition of Stesichorus’s fragments; lightly updated from a still earlier edition by D. L. Page.

  • Davies, M., and P. J. Finglass. 2014. Stesichorus: The poems. Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries 54. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Contains (by Davies and Finglass) a detailed commentary on most of Stesichorus, together with (by Finglass) a commentary on the rest of Stesichorus, a text of the poems, and an introduction (listed here as Finglass 2014a, Finglass 2014b, Finglass 2014c).

  • Ercoles, M. 2013. Stesicoro. Le testimonianze antiche. Eikasmos Studi 24. Bologna, Italy: Pàtron.

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    Up-to-date edition of the testimonia to Stesichorus, accompanied by Italian translation and detailed commentary.

  • Finglass, P. J. 2014a. Introduction. In Stesichorus: The poems. By M. Davies and P. J. Finglass, 1–91. Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries 54. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Overall introduction to Stesichorus’s life, works, and historical and literary context.

  • Finglass, P. J. 2014b. Text and critical apparatus. In Stesichorus: The poems. By M. Davies and P. J. Finglass, 93–204. Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries 54. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Up-to-date edition of the fragments, with apparatus criticus mentioning variant readings.

  • Finglass, P. J. 2014c. Thebais? In Stesichorus: The poems. By M. Davies and P. J. Finglass, 356–392. Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries 54. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Commentary on an important fragment preserved by the famous Lille papyrus.

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