Theognis in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

(Θέογνις). Of Megara, an ancient elegiac and gnomic poet, said to have flourished B.C. 548 or 544. He may have been born about 570, and would therefore have been eighty at the commencement of the Persian Wars, 490, at which time we know from his own writings that he was alive. Theognis belonged to the oligarchical party in his native city, and in its fates he shared. He was a noble by birth, and all his sympathies were with the nobles. They are, in his poems, the ἀγαθοί and ἐσθλοί, and the commons the κακοί and δειλοί, terms which, in fact, at that period, were regularly used in this political signification, and not in their later ethical meaning. He was banished with the leaders of the oligarchical party, having previously been deprived of all his property; and most of his poems were composed while he was an exile. Most of his political verses are addressed to a certain Cyrnus, the son of Polypas. The other fragments of his poetry are of a social, most of them of a festive, character. They place us in the midst of a circle of friends who formed a kind of convivial society; all the members of this society belonged to the class whom the poet calls "the good." The collection of gnomic poetry which has come down to us under the name of Theognis contains, however, many additions from later poets. The genuine fragments of Theognis, with some passages which are poetical in thought, have much that helps us to understand his times. The best editions are by Welcker (1826); Bekker (Leipzig, 1815 and 1827); Orelli (Zürich, 1840); Bergk (1878); Ziegler (2d ed. 1880); and Sitzler (1880). See Frere's Theognis Restitutus (Malta, 1842); Müller, De Scriptis Theognidis (1877); Sitzler, Studien zum Elegiker Theognis (1885); and Sittl, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, i. pp. 261 foll.