Pollux and Proclus on Hymns and Melic Poetry

1 Introduction

piece by piece

only the final portion of the epitome


2 Julius Pollux, Onomasticon 1.38

Songs to the gods are generically called paeans or hymns, and specifically, a hymn of Artemis is an oupingos, one of Apollon a paean, of these both a prosody, of Dionysus a dithyramb, of Demeter an ioulos; for a linus and lityersēs are (not hymns of Demeter but) songs of diggers and farmers.


3 Proclus, Chrestomathy (=Photius, Bibliotheca 239, p. 319–322)

Concerning melic poetry, (Proclus) says that it has very many parts, and that there are different ways of dividing it. For some of them have been assigned to gods, others to humans, others again to gods and humans, and finally some to occasional circumstances.


Firstly, the hymn, processional, paean, dithyramb, nomos, Adonidia, iobacchus and hypokhorēma (‘song accompanied by dancing’) are referred to gods.

Secondly, encomia, the victory ode, drinking songs, love songs, wedding songs, hymenaei (‘songs sung while the marriage is consummated’), satires, laments and dirges are addressed to humans.

Thirdly, maiden songs (parthenia), processionals with tripod-carrying (tripodēphorika) and with vineshoot-carrying (ōskhophorika) and prayer songs (euktika) are addressed to gods and humans; for while these are written to the gods, they contain praises of humans.

Those, finally, which are assigned to occasional circumstances are not forms of melic poetry, but they were undertaken by the same poets; and to these belong songs to people on journeys (emporika), to bid farewell (apostolika), giving maxims (gnōmologika), on agriculture (geōrgika) and those that give commands (epistaltika).


And he says that the hymn [work in progress]

The processional (prosodion) [work in progress]

The paean [work in progress]

The dithyramb [work in progress]

The nomos [work in progress]

Adonidia [work in progress]

The iobacchus [work in progress]

Hypokhorēma [work in progress]


The victory ode (epinikos) [work in progress]

The drinking song (skolion) [work in progress]

It is clear that love songs (erōtika) sing about erotic situations with women, boys and maidens.

And wedding songs (epithalamia) [work in progress]

He says that the hymenaeus is sung during weddings [work in progress]

Satire (sillos) contains abuse and disparagment of people, but sparingly.

Lament (thrēnos) differs from dirge because the dirge (epikēdeion) is spoken during the funeral (kēdos) itself, while the body is still laid out; but lament is not circumscribed in time.


Parthenia [work in progress]

Tripodēphorika [work in progress]

Ōskhophorika [work in progress]

Prayer songs (euktika melē) were written for those who prayed for something to be done by a god.


Emporika are all (songs) that were written to be shown to people on journeys abroad and travels.

And apostolika are all that they composed for people they were bidding farewell.

And it is clear that gnōmologika contain counsel for morals.

And geōrgika (discuss) the lands, times and methods of caring for plants.

And epistaltika are all that they sent to certain persons by way of making commands.


The two logoi of the Grammatical Chrestomathy of Proclus consist in these things.