Dares in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

A Trojan priest, mentioned by Homer ( Il. v. 9). It is absurdly pretended, by some of the ancient writers, that he wrote an Iliad, or history of the Trojan War, in prose; and Aelian (Var. Hist. xi. 2) assures us that it still existed in his day, without telling us, however, whether he himself had read it or not. There can, of course, be no doubt that Aelian was deceived, and that the work which he took for the production of Dares was the composition of some sophist of a much later age. However this may be, the Iliad of which Aelian speaks no longer exists; but we have a Latin work remaining, written in prose, which was for some time regarded as a translation from the Greek original, and was ascribed to Cornelius Nepos, though abounding with absurdities and solecisms. It is entitled Historia Excidii Troiae, or De Excidio Troiae. It professes to be dedicated to the historian This work, together with that of Dictys Cretensis (q. v.) forms the original source of a famous romance of chivalry, which met with extraordinary success during the Middle Ages, and in the centuries immediately subsequent to the invention of printing. These works of Dares and Dictys having fallen into the hands of a Sicilian named Guido delle Colonne, a native of Messina, and a celebrated lawyer and poet of the thirteenth century, he conceived the idea of giving them that romantic air which would harmonize with the spirit of his age, when chivalry had acquired its greatest lustre. He consequently interpolated the narratives of the pretended poets of Phrygia and Crete with various adventures, suited to the taste of the time, such as tournaments, challenges, and single combats. His work having met with considerable success, he composed, in Latin prose, a romance of the war of Troy, into which he also introduced the war of the Seven against Thebes and the expedition of the Argonauts. He confounds together history and mythology, Greek and Oriental manners; his heroes are acquainted with alchemy and astronomy, and come into conflict with dragons, griffins, and other fabulous monsters. His romance was translated into almost every European language, and excited a general enthusiasm. Hence the desire which at that time seized the great families of Europe of claiming descent from one of the heroes of Trojan story; and hence the eagerness, on the part of the monks, to compose genealogies consisting of Greek and Roman names which had some analogy with the names of the sovereign princes of the Middle Ages. This same work of Dares Phrygius was the source whence Conrad of Würzburg, in the latter half of the thirteenth century, derived the materials of the poem which he composed in like manner on the war of Troy. The oldest MS. of the Historia de Excidio Troiae is one at Paris, of the ninth century, and other MSS. are those of St. Gall, Bern, Bamberg, and Vienna. The work is at least as early as Isidorus, who mentions it ( Orig. i. 41). The best edition is that by Meister (Leipzig, 1873). See Meister, De Daretis Phryg., etc. (Breslau, 1871); Dunger's treatise in the Programme of the Vitzthum Gymnasium (Dresden, 1869); and Körting, Dictys und Dares (Halle, 1874). On the language, see the Index Latinitatis, in Meister's edition.

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