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Medieval and Classical Library

Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica

THE CYPRIA (fragments)

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #8

Fragment #1 --
Proclus, Chrestomathia, i:
This (1) is continued by the epic called "Cypria" which is
current is eleven books.  Its contents are as follows.

Zeus plans with Themis to bring about the Trojan war.  Strife
arrives while the gods are feasting at the marriage of Peleus and
starts a dispute between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite as to which
of them is fairest.  The three are led by Hermes at the command
of Zeus to Alexandrus (2) on Mount Ida for his decision, and
Alexandrus, lured by his promised marriage with Helen, decides in
favour of Aphrodite.

Then Alexandrus builds his ships at Aphrodite's suggestion, and
Helenus foretells the future to him, and Aphrodite order Aeneas
to sail with him, while Cassandra prophesies as to what will
happen afterwards.  Alexandrus next lands in Lacedaemon and is
entertained by the sons of Tyndareus, and afterwards by Menelaus
in Sparta, where in the course of a feast he gives gifts to

After this, Menelaus sets sail for Crete, ordering Helen to
furnish the guests with all they require until they depart. 
Meanwhile, Aphrodite brings Helen and Alexandrus together, and
they, after their union, put very great treasures on board and
sail away by night.  Hera stirs up a storm against them and they
are carried to Sidon, where Alexandrus takes the city.  From
there he sailed to Troy and celebrated his marriage with Helen.

In the meantime Castor and Polydeuces, while stealing the cattle
of Idas and Lynceus, were caught in the act, and Castor was
killed by Idas, and Lynceus and Idas by Polydeuces.  Zeus gave
them immortality every other day.

Iris next informs Menelaus of what has happened at his home. 
Menelaus returns and plans an expedition against Ilium with his
brother, and then goes on to Nestor.  Nestor in a digression
tells him how Epopeus was utterly destroyed after seducing the
daughter of Lycus, and the story of Oedipus, the madness of
Heracles, and the story of Theseus and Ariadne.  Then they travel
over Hellas and gather the leaders, detecting Odysseus when he
pretends to be mad, not wishing to join the expedition, by
seizing his son Telemachus for punishment at the suggestion of

All the leaders then meet together at Aulis and sacrifice.  The
incident of the serpent and the sparrows (2) takes place before
them, and Calchas foretells what is going to befall.  After this,
they put out to sea, and reach Teuthrania and sack it, taking it
for Ilium.  Telephus comes out to the rescue and kills 
Thersander and son of Polyneices, and is himself wounded by
Achilles.  As they put out from Mysia a storm comes on them and
scatters them, and Achilles first puts in at Scyros and married
Deidameia, the daughter of Lycomedes, and then heals Telephus,
who had been led by an oracle to go to Argos, so that he might be
their guide on the voyage to Ilium.

When the expedition had mustered a second time at Aulis,
Agamemnon, while at the chase, shot a stag and boasted that he
surpassed even Artemis.  At this the goddess was so angry that
she sent stormy winds and prevented them from sailing.  Calchas
then told them of the anger of the goddess and bade them
sacrifice Iphigeneia to Artemis.  This they attempt to do,
sending to fetch Iphigeneia as though for marriage with Achilles.

Artemis, however, snatched her away and transported her to the
Tauri, making her immortal, and putting a stag in place of the
girl upon the altar.

Next they sail as far as Tenedos: and while they are feasting,
Philoctetes is bitten by a snake and is left behind in Lemnos
because of the stench of his sore.  Here, too, Achilles quarrels
with Agamemnon because he is invited late.  Then the Greeks tried
to land at Ilium, but the Trojans prevent them, and Protesilaus
is killed by Hector.  Achilles then kills Cycnus, the son of
Poseidon, and drives the Trojans back.  The Greeks take up their
dead and send envoys to the Trojans demanding the surrender of
Helen and the treasure with her.  The Trojans refusing, they
first assault the city, and then go out and lay waste the country
and cities round about.  After this, Achilles desires to see
Helen, and Aphrodite and Thetis contrive a meeting between them. 
The Achaeans next desire to return home, but are restrained by
Achilles, who afterwards drives off the cattle of Aeneas, and
sacks Lyrnessus and Pedasus and many of the neighbouring cities,
and kills Troilus.  Patroclus carries away Lycaon to Lemnos and
sells him as a slave, and out of the spoils Achilles receives
Briseis as a prize, and Agamemnon Chryseis.  Then follows the
death of Palamedes, the plan of Zeus to relieve the Trojans by
detaching Achilles from the Hellenic confederacy, and a catalogue
of the Trojan allies.

Fragment #2 --
Tzetzes, Chil. xiii. 638:
Stasinus composed the "Cypria" which the more part say was
Homer's work and by him given to Stasinus as a dowry with money

Fragment #3 --
Scholiast on Homer, Il. i. 5:
`There was a time when the countless tribes of men, though wide-
dispersed, oppressed the surface of the deep-bosomed earth, and
Zeus saw it and had pity and in his wise heart resolved to
relieve the all-nurturing earth of men by causing the great
struggle of the Ilian war, that the load of death might empty the
world.  And so the heroes were slain in Troy, and the plan of
Zeus came to pass.'

Fragment #4 --
Volumina Herculan, II. viii. 105:
The author of the "Cypria" says that Thetis, to please Hera,
avoided union with Zeus, at which he was enraged and swore that
she should be the wife of a mortal.

Fragment #5 --
Scholiast on Homer, Il. xvii. 140:
For at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, the gods gathered
together on Pelion to feast and brought Peleus gifts.  Cheiron
gave him a stout ashen shaft which he had cut for a spear, and
Athena, it is said, polished it, and Hephaestus fitted it with a
head.  The story is given by the author of the "Cypria".

Fragment #6 --
Athenaeus, xv. 682 D, F:
The author of the "Cypria", whether Hegesias or Stasinus,
mentions flowers used for garlands.  The poet, whoever he was,
writes as follows in his first book:

(ll. 1-7) `She clothed herself with garments which the Graces and
Hours had made for her and dyed in flowers of spring -- such
flowers as the Seasons wear -- in crocus and hyacinth and
flourishing violet and the rose's lovely bloom, so sweet and
delicious, and heavenly buds, the flowers of the narcissus and
lily.  In such perfumed garments is Aphrodite clothed at all


(ll. 8-12) Then laughter-loving Aphrodite and her handmaidens
wove sweet-smelling crowns of flowers of the earth and put them
upon their heads -- the bright-coiffed goddesses, the Nymphs and
Graces, and golden Aphrodite too, while they sang sweetly on the
mount of many-fountained Ida.'

Fragment #7 --
Clement of Alexandria, Protrept ii. 30. 5:
`Castor was mortal, and the fate of death was destined for him;
but Polydeuces, scion of Ares, was immortal.'

Fragment #8 --
Athenaeus, viii. 334 B:
`And after them she bare a third child, Helen, a marvel to men. 
Rich-tressed Nemesis once gave her birth when she had been joined
in love with Zeus the king of the gods by harsh violence.  For
Nemesis tried to escape him and liked not to lie in love with her
father Zeus the Son of Cronos; for shame and indignation vexed
her heart: therefore she fled him over the land and fruitless
dark water.  But Zeus ever pursued and longed in his heart to
catch her.  Now she took the form of a fish and sped over the
waves of the loud-roaring sea, and now over Ocean's stream and
the furthest bounds of Earth, and now she sped over the furrowed
land, always turning into such dread creatures as the dry land
nurtures, that she might escape him.'

Fragment #9 --
Scholiast on Euripides, Andr. 898:
The writer (3) of the Cyprian histories says that (Helen's third
child was) Pleisthenes and that she took him with her to Cyprus,
and that the child she bore Alexandrus was Aganus.

Fragment #10 --
Herodotus, ii. 117:
For it is said in the "Cypria" that Alexandrus came with Helen to
Ilium from Sparta in three days, enjoying a favourable wind and
calm sea.

Fragment #11 --
Scholiast on Homer, Il. iii. 242:
For Helen had been previously carried off by Theseus, and it was
in consequence of this earlier rape that Aphidna, a town in
Attica, was sacked and Castor was wounded in the right thigh by
Aphidnus who was king at that time.  Then the Dioscuri, failing
to find Theseus, sacked Athens.  The story is in the Cyclic

Plutarch, Thes. 32:
Hereas relates that Alycus was killed by Theseus himself near
Aphidna, and quotes the following verses in evidence: `In
spacious Aphidna Theseus slew him in battle long ago for rich-
haired Helen's sake.' (4)

Fragment #12 --
Scholiast on Pindar, Nem. x. 114:
(ll. 1-6) `Straightway Lynceus, trusting in his swift feet, made
for Taygetus.  He climbed its highest peak and looked throughout
the whole isle of Pelops, son of Tantalus; and soon the glorious
hero with his dread eyes saw horse-taming Castor and athlete
Polydeuces both hidden within a hollow oak.'

Philodemus, On Piety:
(Stasinus?) writes that Castor was killed with a spear shot by
Idas the son of Aphareus.

Fragment #13 --
Athenaeus, 35 C:
`Menelaus, know that the gods made wine the best thing for mortal
man to scatter cares.'

Fragment #14 --
Laurentian Scholiast on Sophocles, Elect. 157:
Either he follows Homer who spoke of the three daughters of
Agamemnon, or -- like the writer of the "Cypria" -- he makes them
four, (distinguishing) Iphigeneia and Iphianassa.

Fragment #15 -- (5)
Contest of Homer and Hesiod:
`So they feasted all day long, taking nothing from their own
houses; for Agamemnon, king of men, provided for them.'

Fragment #16 --
Louvre Papyrus:
`I never thought to enrage so terribly the stout heart of
Achilles, for very well I loved him.'

Fragment #17 --
Pausanias, iv. 2. 7:
The poet of the "Cypria" says that the wife of Protesilaus --
who, when the Hellenes reached the Trojan shore, first dared to
land -- was called Polydora, and was the daughter of Meleager,
the son of Oeneus.

Fragment #18 --
Eustathius, 119. 4:
Some relate that Chryseis was taken from Hypoplacian (6) Thebes,
and that she had not taken refuge there nor gone there to
sacrifice to Artemis, as the author of the "Cypria" states, but
was simply a fellow townswoman of Andromache.

Fragment #19 --
Pausanias, x. 31. 2:
I know, because I have read it in the epic "Cypria", that
Palamedes was drowned when he had gone out fishing, and that it
was Diomedes and Odysseus who caused his death.

Fragment #20 --
Plato, Euthyphron, 12 A:
`That it is Zeus who has done this, and brought all these things
to pass, you do not like to say; for where fear is, there too is

Fragment #21 --
Herodian, On Peculiar Diction:
`By him she conceived and bare the Gorgons, fearful monsters who
lived in Sarpedon, a rocky island in deep-eddying Oceanus.'

Fragment #22 --
Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis vii. 2. 19:
Again, Stasinus says: `He is a simple man who kills the father
and lets the children live.'


(1)  The preceding part of the Epic Cycle (?).
(2)  While the Greeks were sacrificing at Aulis, a serpent
     appeared and devoured eight young birds from their nest and
     lastly the mother of the brood.  This was interpreted by
     Calchas to mean that the war would swallow up nine full
     years.  Cp. "Iliad" ii, 299 ff.
(3)  i.e. Stasinus (or Hegesias: cp. fr. 6): the phrase `Cyprian
     histories' is equivalent to "The Cypria".
(4)  Cp. Allen "C.R." xxvii. 190.
(5)  These two lines possibly belong to the account of the feast
     given by Agamemnon at Lemnos.
(6)  sc. the Asiatic Thebes at the foot of Mt. Placius.