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The cranes of Ibycus.

I was working with the Lexicon Universale and ran across the story of Ibycus, a Greek lyric poet, as cribbed from a Latin version of Plutarch‘s Περὶ ἀδολεσχίας (De garrulitate):

Ibycus cùm in latrones incidisset iam occidendus, grues fortè supervolantes obtestatus est. Aliquanto pòst tempore, cùm iidem latrones in foro sederent, rursumque grues supervolarent, per iocum [inter] se susurrabant in aurem: Αἱ Ἰβύκου ἔκδικοι πάρεισιν. Eum sermonem assidentes in suspicionem rapuêrunt, maximè desiderato iam pridem Ibyco. Rogati quidnam sibi vellet ea oratio, haesitanter & inconstanter respondêrunt, subiecti tormentis facinus confessi sunt.

When Ibycus had fallen among thieves and was about to be killed, some cranes happened to be flying overhead and he called on them to bear witness to it. After some time, when the same thieves were sitting in the forum, and some cranes flew overhead again, as a joke they whispered in each other’s ears: Αἱ Ἰβύκου ἔκδικοι πάρεισιν, the avengers of Ibycus are here. Some people sitting nearby caught what they were saying and were suspicious of them, as Ibycus had now been very much missed for some time. Asked what they might have meant by saying that, they stammered and couldn’t give a straight answer; they confessed to their crime under torture.

Apparently Ibyci grues “the cranes of Ibycus” became proverbial.

Ausonius also references the incident in his Technopaegnion, in de Historiis:

Īby̆cŭs | ūt pĕrĭ|īt, vīn|dēx fŭĭt | āltĭvŏ|lāns grūs.

When Ibycus perished, his avenger was the high-flying crane.

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