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Mesomedes of Crete (Ancient Greek: ? ?) was a Roman-era Greek lyric poet and composer of the early 2nd century AD.

He was a freedman of the Emperor Hadrian, on whose favorite Antinous he is said to have written a panegyric, specifically called a Citharoedic Hymn (Suidas). Two epigrams by him in the Greek Anthology (Anthol. pal. xiv. 63, xvi. 323) are extant, and a hymn to Nemesis. The hymn is one of four which preserve the ancient musical notation written over the text. Two other hymns, one to the muse Calliope and one entitled Hymn to the Sun, formerly assigned to Dionysius of Alexandria, have also been attributed to Mesomedes. In an article[1] published in 2003, Annie Bélis proves that the Berlin musical papyrus (inv. 6870) contains a Paean to Apollo written by Mesomedes. A total of 15 poems by Mesomedes are known.

Mesomedes continued in the Musaeum in Alexandria even after Hadrian's death (138); there the Historia Augusta reports that during Antoninus Pius' reign, 138-161 his state salary was reduced. The emperor Caracalla 212-217 honored Mesomedes with a cenotaph approximately a 50-60 years after his death.

Prior to the discovery of the Seikilos epitaph in the late 19th century, the hymns of Mesomedes were the only surviving written music from the ancient world.[2] Three were published by Vincenzo Galilei in his Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna (Florence, 1581), during a period of intense investigation into music of the ancient Greeks. These hymns had been preserved through the Byzantine tradition, and were presented to Vincenzo by Girolamo Mei.

See J. F. Bellermann, Die Hymnen des Dionysius und Mesomedes (1840); C. de Jan, Musici scriptores graeci (1899); S. Reinach in Revue des études grecques, ix (1896); Suidas, s.v.


Hymn to the Muse

Greek English translation[3]

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?, , ,
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Sing, o Muse, dear to me;
My song let thou:
Let the air of thy groves
excite my mind;
Callipe, skilled in art,
who leadest the gladsome Muses
and thou, wise initiator into mysteries,
son of Latona, Delian Apollo,
be at hand, propitious to me.


  • Vincenzo Galilei, Dialogo Di Vincentio Galilei Nobile Fiorentino Della Musica Antica, Et Della Moderna (Fiorenza, 1581) (google), p. 97
  • Johann Friedrich Bellermann, Die Hymnen des Dionysius und Mesomedes. Text und Melodieen nach Handschriften und den alten Ausgaben bearbeitet von Dr. Friedrich Bellermann (Berlin, 1840) (google)
  • Rheinisches Museum für Philologie. Neue Folge. Neunter Jahrgang (Frankfurt am Main, 1854) (google); p. 306-311: Theodor Bergk, Zu den Hymnen des Dionysius und Mesomedes
  • Karl von Jan (Latin: Carolus Janus), Musici scriptores graeci. Aristoteles   Euclides   Nicomachus   Bacchius   Gaudentius   Alypius   et melodiarum veterum quidquid exstat. Recognovit prooemiis et indice instruxit Carolus Janus. Annexae sunt tabulae (Lipsia, 1895) (google-US), p. 454ff.
    • Musici scriptores graeci. Recognovit prooemiis et indice instruxit Carolus Janus. Supplementum, melodiarum reliquiae (Lipsia, 1899) (google-US)
  • Revue des études grecques. Tome IX. Année 1896 (Paris, 1896) (google-US); p. 1-22: Théodore Reinach, L'hymne a la Muse

In anthologies:

  • Richard François Philippe Brunck, Analecta veterum poetarum graecorum. Editore Rich. Fr. Phil. Brunck. Tom. II. (Argentoratum; ed. IV.: Argentoratum, 1785) (google; ed. IV.: google), p. 292f.
  • Jean François Boissonade de Fontarabie, ? ?. . . - Poetarum graecorum sylloge. Tom. XV. -- ? ? . - Lyrici graeci curante Jo. Fr. Boissonade (Paris, 1825) (google), p. 49ff.
  • Anthologia lyrica Anacreontea et Anacreontis aliorumque lyricorum graecorum selecta fragmenta et scolia continens. Edidit cum notis criticis et metrorum expositione Fridericus Mehlhorn (Lipsia, 1827) (google), p. 70f.
  • Anthologia graeca sive delectus poesis elegiacae melicae bucolicae. Scholarum in usum adornavit Nicolaus Bachius (Hannovera, 1838) (google), p. 128
  • James Donaldson, Lyra Græca: Specimens of the Greek Lyric Poets, from Callinus to Soutsos. Edited, with critical Notes, and a biographical Introduction, by James Donaldson (Edinburgh & London, 1854) (google), p. 96f.
  • Theodor Bergk, Anthologia lyrica continens Theognidem, Babrium, Anacreontea cum ceterorum poetarum reliqiis selectis. Edidit Theodorus Bergk (Lipsia, 1854) (google), p. 403f.
    • Anthologia lyrica continens Theogni[de]m, Babrium, Anacreontea cum ceterorum poetarum reliqiis selectis. Curavit Theodorus Bergk (Lipsia, 1868) (google), p. 522ff.


  1. ^ Bélis, Annie (2003). "Le 'Péan de Berlin' : une relecture". Revue des études grecques (in French). 116: 537-558. 
  2. ^ The notes to an ode of Pindar presented in a book by Athanasius Kircher (book cover, notes to the ode) are now considered to be unauthentic.
  3. ^ cf. William Chappell: The History of Music. (Art and Science.) Vol. I. From the earliest records to the fall of the Roman Empire with explanations of ancient systems of music, musical instruments, and of the true physiological basis for the science of music, whether ancient or modern. By W. Chappel (London), p. 168


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