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Archilochus


Greek poet and mercenary; his name is also rendered as Archilochos or Arkhilokhus.
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Archilochus
Some Saian mountaineer
Struts today with my shield.
I threw it down by a bush and ran
When the fighting got hot.
Life seemed somehow more precious.
It was a beautiful shield.
I know where I can buy another
Exactly like it, just as round.
Archilochus quotes
The fox knows many tricks; the hedgehog one good one.
Archilochus
Take the joy and bear the sorrow,
looking past your hopes and fears:
learn to recognize the measured
dance that orders all our years.




Archilochus quotes
Heart, my heart, so battered with misfortune far beyond your strength,
up, and face the men who hate us. Bare your chest to the assault
of the enemy, and fight them off. Stand fast among the beamlike spears.
Give no ground; and if you beat them, do not brag in open show,
nor, if they beat you, run home and lie down on your bed and cry.
Keep some measure in the joy you take in luck, and the degree you
give way to sorrow. All our life is up-and-down like this.
Archilochus
Archilochos was both poet and mercenary. As a poet he was both satirist and lyricist. Iambic verse is his invention. He wrote the first beast fable known to us. He wrote marching songs, love lyrics of frail tenderness, elegies. But most of all he was what Meleager calls him, "a thistle with graceful leaves." There is a tradition that wasps hover around his grave. To the ancients, both Greek and Roman, he was The Satirist.
We have what grammarians quote to illustrate a point of dialect or interesting use of the subjunctive; we have brief quotations by admiring critics; and we have papyrus fragments, scrap paper from the households of Alexandria, with which third-class mummies were wrapped and stuffed. All else is lost. Horace and Catullus, like all cultivated readers, had Archilochos complete in their libraries.
Even in the tattered version we have of Archilochos the extraordinary form of his mind is discernible. Not all poets can be so broken and still compel attention.
Archilochos kept his "two services" in an unlikely harmony. Ares did not complain that this ash-spear fighter wrote poems, and the Muses have heard everything and did not mind that their horsetail-helmeted servant sometimes spoke with the vocabulary of a paratrooper sergeant, though the high-minded Spartans banned Archilochos's poems for their mockery of uncritical bravery. And the people of his native Paros made it clear, when they honored him with a monument, that they thought him a great poet in spite of his nettle tongue.
Archilochus quotes
These golden matters
Of Gyges and his treasuries
Are no concern of mine.
Jealousy has no power over me,
Nor do I envy a god his work,
And I do not burn to rule.
Such things have no
Fascination for my eyes.
Archilochus
The fox knows many tricks; and the hedgehog only one; but that is the best one of all.
Archilochus quotes
The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one great thing.
Archilochus
Be bold! That's one way
Of getting through life.
So I turn upon her
And point out that,
Faced with the wickedness
Of things, she does not shiver.
Archilochus
You whom the soldiers beat,
You who are all but dead,
How the gods love you
And I, alone in the dark,
I was promised the light.
Archilochus
I know how to love those
Who love me, how to hate.




Archilochus quotes
There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus which says: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Scholars have differed about the correct interpretation of these dark words, which may mean no more than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by the hedgehog's one defence. But, taken figuratively, the words can be made to yield a sense in which they mark one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general. For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory... Their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves, without, consciously or unconsciously, seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from any one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision. The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes; and without insisting on a rigid classification, we may, without too much fear of contradiction, say that, in this sense, Dante belongs to the first category, Shakespeare to the second.
Archilochus
Nothing can be surprising any more or impossible or miraculous, now that Zeus, father of the Olympians has made night out of noonday, hiding the bright sunlight, and . . . fear has come upon mankind. After this, men can believe anything, expect anything. Don't any of you be surprised in future if land beasts change places with dolphins and go to live in their salty pastures, and get to like the sounding waves of the sea more than the land, while the dolphins prefer the mountains.
Archilochus quotes
I have a high art: I hurt with cruelty those who wound me.
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