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  • As Is the Generation of Leaves in Homer, Simonides, Horace, and Stobaios
  • David Sider

Stobaios 4.34.28 comprises frr. 19 (ms. S) + 20.5–12 (mss. SMA) W2 (i.e., ms. S presents X + Y as one continuous passage).

19 W2 Stobaios

20 W2POxy 3965, fr. 26; Stobaios

[End Page 263]

(Unattributed readings are owed to West)

19 1 Hecker    2 = Il. 6.146     3 Hermann

20 3    e.g. Parsons    4   e.g. Parsons   fin.     5   Stob.    Wil.    8 Hartung     9   vel Stob. (correxerat Camerarius)    10   (coniecerat Cam.) Stob.   13 vel West   Parsons 14 Parsons Parsons 15 e.g. Parsons   West, sed n non legendum     18   sscr.


19 The man from Chios said one thing best: "As is the generation of leaves, so is the generation of men." Few men hearing this take it to heart. For in each man there is hope which grows in the heart of the young.

20 . . . for a short time . . . abide . . . As long as a mortal has the desirable bloom of youth with a light spirit he thinks many unaccomplished deeds. For he has no expectation that he will grow old or die, nor when healthy does he think about illness. Fools are they whose thoughts are thus! Nor do they know that the time of youth and life is short for mortals. But you, learning this at the end of your life, endure, delighting in good things in your soul . . . Consider [the account of the man of] old. Homer escaped [the forgetting of his words] . . . false . . . in feasts . . . well-plaited . . . here and [there] . . .

Glaukos, asked his identity on the battlefield by Diomedes, responds with one of Homer's most famous similes (Il. 6.146–49):

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Just as is the generation of leaves, so also is that of men.Some leaves the wind spills to the ground, but others theburgeoning wood grows anew, and the springtime comes again.Thus one generation of men grows, another passes away.

Poets have alluded to this simile from the very beginning. The first to do so may in fact be Homer himself: later in the Iliad, Apollo tells Poseidon that he will not fight with him for the sake of mortals (Il. 21.464–66):

. . . wretched, who like leaves at one time burgeon in theirglory, enjoying the fruit of the land, but at a later timelifelessly pass away.

This later passage surely echoes the earlier. As Richardson notes, there is a nice contrast between Book 6, where Diomedes says that he would not fight Glaukos if he is a god, and Book 21, where Apollo refuses to fight another god for the sake of mortals.1

Later classical authors who clearly allude to this simile are Mimnermos, Simonides, Pindar, Bakkhylides, Aristophanes, Vergil, and Horace.2 We shall look more closely at these echoes in due course, but the author we must look at first is Simonides, whose poem containing a citation of Il. 6.146,3 known to us from its inclusion in Stobaios' omnium-gatherum, [End Page 265] now appears as one of the two literary passages which allow us firmly to identify him as the author of POxy 3965 (and hence POxy 2327 as well). The overlap between Stobaios and the papyrus does more, however, than merely establish Simonidean authorship; it also has a surprise.

Before the publication of the papyrus in 1992, we possessed, or thought that we did, a continuous 13-line elegiac poem which seemed to be nearly complete. Only the fact that its first line is the pentameter reveals that the beginning is lacking,4 but most people seemed content to imagine that only one hexameter line was missing.5 Stobaios' line 13 was reasonably taken to end the poem. (Stobaios' line numbers, which long were traditional, will be cited in the form St. 13; otherwise line numbers are those of frr. 19 and 20 in West's new ordering of the fragments.)

The papyrus, however, puts Stobaios' selection in a new setting which demands that we rethink this whole question of the origin of St. 1–13. [End Page 266] More precisely, St. 6–13 is preceded in...


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