Leonidas of Tarentum
Leonidas of Tarentum (Doric Greek Λεωνίδας ὁ Ταραντῖνος) was an epigrammatist and lyric poet. He lived in Italy in the third century B.C. at Tarentum, on the coast of Calabria (then Magna Graecia). Over a hundred of his epigrams are present in the Greek Anthology compiled in the 10th and 14th centuries. Most of his poems are dedicatory or sepulchral.
The youth of Leonidas coincided with the first awakening of the Greek cities on the south coast of Italy to the danger threatening them from Rome and their first attempts to seek protection from the warlike kings of Epirus. One of Leonidas's earliest extent poems chronicles a journey which he himself took to the court of Neoptolemus, son of Aeacides, seeking promise of protection. Soon after the poet's arrival, Neoptolemus was assassinated by his more warlike cousin, Pyrrhus, who eagerly agreed to become the Greeks' champion, and Leonidas returned to Italy to rally his countrymen for war.
Although he became quite famous after his death, Leonidas was only able to earn a bare subsistence from his poetry during his lifetime. In one grim poem, he addresses the mice that share his meal tub, reminding them that he needs only one lump of salt and two barley cakes for himself.
- Wright, F.A. "Leonidas of Tarentum." The Edinburgh Review. Apr. 1922.
- Poems by Leonidas of Tarentum English translations
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