Stesichorus was a Greek lyric poet from Himera in Sicily, who lived from 640 BC to 555 BC. He was included in a list of nine respected lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. Like the other nine lyric poets, much of his work is lost, and he is known today through fragments and through descriptions and quotations in later works.



Several poems dealing with the Trojan War are attributed to him, as well as an Oresteia believed to have influenced Aeschylus in his own Oresteia. Fragments also survive from a poem about the monster Geryon, defeated by Herakles in his bid to steal Geryon's red cattle as his Tenth Labor.

Stesichorus is also famous for his palinode and the legend surrounding it: Allegedly, Stesichorus wrote a poem about Helen and the traditional story of the Trojan War, and was immediately blinded. He then composed a palinode to retract his statements about Helen, and his sight was miraculously restored; afterwards he promoted the idea that the real Helen remained in Egypt, while an illusion created by her father Zeus continued on to Troy. Plato in his Phaedrus preserved Stesichorus' palinode, which reads:

"That story is not true.

You [Helen] never sailed in the benched ships.

You never went to the city of Troy."

When the people of Himera had made Phalaris military dictator, and were going to give him a bodyguard, Stesichorus wound up a long talk by telling them the fable of the horse who had a field all to himself. Presently there came a stag and began to spoil his pasturage. The horse, wishing to revenge himself on the stag, asked a man if he could help him to do so. The man said, ‘Yes, if you will let me bridle you and get on to your back with javelins in my hand’. The horse agreed, and the man mounted; but instead of getting his revenge on the stag, the horse found himself the slave of the man. ‘You too’, said Stesichorus, ‘take care lest your desire for revenge on your enemies, you meet the same fate as the horse. By making Phalaris military dictator, you have already let yourselves be bridled. If you let him get on to your backs by giving him a bodyguard, from that moment you will be his slaves.
Aristotle , Rhetoric II

Palinodie, Nostoi, (a work of Agias of Trozen?) Ilioupersis (a work of Arctinus of Miletus ? ) Eriphylle ..ἐκλήθη δὲ Στησίχορος, ὅτι πρῶτος κιθαρωδίαι χόρον ἔστησεν


Excerpts from his work (Greek)

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