Simonides Preserved by the Gods

4.24. SIMONIDES PRESERVED BY THE GODS. I have said, above, how greatly learning is esteemed among men: I will now hand down to posterity how great is the honor paid to it by the Gods.
Simonides, the very same of whom I have before made mention, agreed, at a fixed price, to write a panegyric for a certain Pugilist, who had been victorious: accordingly he sought retirement. As the meagreness of his subject cramped his imagination, he used, according to general custom, the license of the Poet, and introduced the twin stars of Leda, citing them as an example of similar honours. He finished the Poem according to contract, but received only a third part of the sum agreed upon. On his demanding the rest: “They,” said he, “will give it you whose praises occupy the other two-thirds; but, that I may feel convinced that you have not departed in anger, promise to dine with me, as I intend to-day to invite my kinsmen, in the number of whom I reckon you.”
Although defrauded, and smarting under the injury, in order that he might not, by parting on bad terms, break off all friendly intercourse, he promised that he would. At the hour named he returned, and took his place at table. The banquet shone joyously with its cups; the house resounded with gladness, amid vast preparations, when, on a sudden, two young men, covered with dust, and dripping with perspiration, their bodies of more than human form, requested one of the servants to call Simonides to them, and say that it was of consequence to him to make no delay. The man, quite confused, called forth Simonides; and hardly had he put one foot out of the banquetting room, when suddenly the fall of the ceiling crushed the rest, and no young men were to be seen at the gate.
When the circumstances of the story I have told were made known, all were persuaded that the personal intervention of the Divinities had saved the Poet’s life by way of reward. [more info]

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