ATHENS (Ancient city) GREECE
Alcimenes Alkmenes), an Athenian comic poet, apparently a contemporary of Aeschylus. One of his pieces is supposed to have been the Kolumbosai (the Female Swimmers). His works were greatly admired by Tynnichus, a younger contemporary of Aeschylus.
There was a tragic writer of the same name, a native of Megara, mentioned by Suidas. (Suid. s. v. Alkimenes and Alkman.)
Alexander of Athens, a comic poet, the son of Aristion, whose name occurs in an
inscription given in Bockh, who refers it to the 145th Olympiad (B. C. 200). There
seems also to have been a poet of the same name who was a writer of the middle
comedy, quoted by the Schol. on Homer (Il. ix. 216), and Aristoph. (Ran. 864),
and Athen. (iv.).
Ameipsias, a comic poet of Athens, contemporary with Aristophanes, whom he twice conquered in the dramatic contests, gaining the second prize with his Konnos when Aristophanes was third with the " Clouds" (423 B. C.), and the first with his Komastai, when Aristophanes gained the second with the " Birds." (414 B. C.; Arrgum. in Aristoph. Nub. et. Av.) The [p. 142] Konnos appears to have had the same subject and aim as the " Clouds." It is at least certain that Socrates appeared in the play, and that the Chorus consisted of Phrontistai. (Diog. Laert. ii. 28 ; Athen. v. p. 218.) Aristophanes alludes to Ameipsias in the " Frogs" (v. 12--14), and we are told in the anonymous life of Aristophanes, that when Aristophanes first exhibited his plays, in the names of other poets, Ameipsias applied to him the proverb tetradi gegonos, which means " a person who labours for others," in allusion to Heracles, who was born on the fourth of the month.
Ameipsias wrote many comedies, out of which there remain only a few fragments of the following : --Apokottabizontes, Katesthion (doubtful), Konnos, Moichoi, Sappho, Sphendone, and of some the names of which are unknown. Most of his plays were of the old comedy, but some, in all probability, were of the middle. (Meineke, Frag. Com. i. p. 199, ii. p. 701.)
Amphis, an Athenian comic poet, of the middle comedy, contemporary with the philosopher Plato. A reference to Phryne, the Thespian, in one of his plays (Athen. xiii.), proves that he was alive in B. C. 332. We have the titles of twenty-six of his plays, and a few fragments of them. (Suidas, s. v.; Pollux, i. 233; Diog. Laert. iii. 27)
Anaxilas or Anaxilaus (Anaxilas, Anaxilaos), an Athenian comic poet of the middle
comedy, contemporary with Plato and Demosthenes, the former of whom he attacked
in one of his plays (Diog. Laert. iii. 28). We have a few fragments and the titles
of nineteen of his comedies, eight of which are on mythological subjects (Pollux,
ii. 29, 34; x. 190; Athen.)
Anaxippus (Anaxippos), an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, was contemporary with Antigonus and Demetrius Poliorcetes, and flourished about B. C. 303. (Suidas, s. v.) We have the titles of four of his plays, and perhaps of one more.
Antidotus (Antidotos), an Athenian comic poet, of whom we know nothing, except that he was of the middle comedy, which is evident from the fact that a certain play, the Homoia, is ascribed both to him and to Alexis. (Athen. xiv.) We have the titles of two other plays of his, and it is thought that his name ought to be restored in Athenaeus (i.) and Pollux (vi. 99).
Native of Cios (see CIOS)
Apollophanes of Athens, a poet of the old Attic comedy (Suid.), appears to have been a contemporary of Strattis, and to have consequently lived about Ol. 95 (Harpocrat. s. v. aselphirein). Suidas ascribes to him five comedies, viz. Dalis, Iphigeron, Kretes, Danae and Kentauroi. Of the former three we still possess a few fragments, but the last two are completely lost (Athen. iii., xi; Phot. Lex. s. v. mnsikarphes; Aelian, Hist. Ann. vi. 51; Phot).
Archedicus (Archedikos), an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, who wrote, at the instigation
of Timaeus, against Demochares, the nephew of Demosthenes, and supported Antipater
and the Macedonian party. The titles of two of his plays are preserved, Diamartanon
and Thesauros. He flourished about 302 B. C. (Suidas, s. v.; Athen. vi., vii.,
x., xiii,; Polyb. xii. 13).
Archippus (Archippos), an Athenian comic poet of the old comedy. gained a single prize B. C. 415. (Suidas, s. v.) His chief play was Ichthus, " the Fishes," in which, as far as can be gathered from the fragments, the fish made war upon the Athenians, as excessive eaters of fish, and at length a treaty was concluded, by which Melanthius, the tragic poet, and other voracious fish-eaters, were given up to be devoured by the fishes. The wit of the piece appears to have consisted chiefly in playing upon words, which Archippus was noted for carrying to great excess. The other plays of Archippus, mentioned by the grammarians, are Amphitruon, Herakles gamon, Onou skia, Ploutos, and Hpinon. Four of the lost plays which are assigned to Aristophanes, were by some ascribed to Archippus, namely, Poiesis, Nauagos, Nesoi, Niobis or Niobos.Two Pythagorean philosophers of this name are mentioned in the list of Fabricius.
Aristomenes. A comic poet of Athens. He belonged to the ancient Attic comedy, or more correctly to the second class of the poets constituting the old Attic comedy. For the ancients seem to distinguish the comic poets who flourished before the Peloponnesian war from those who lived during that war, and Aristomenes belonged to the latter. (Suidas, s. v. Aristomenes ; Eudocia, p. 65; Argum. ad Aristoph. Equit.) He was sometimes ridiculed by the surname ho Duropoios,which mayhave been derived from the circumstance that either he himself or his father, at one time, was an artizan, perhaps a carpenter. As early as the year B. C. 425, he brought out a piece called hulophoroi, on the same occasion that the Equites of Aristophanes and the Satyri of Cratinus were performed; and if it is true that another piece entitled Admetus was performed at the same time with the Plutus of Aristophanes, in B. C. 389, the dramatic career of Aristomenes was very long. (Argum. ad Aristoph. Plut.) But we know of only a few comedies of Aristomenes ; Meineke conjectures that the Admetus was brough out together with the first edition of Aristophanes' Plutus, an hypothesis based upon very weak grounds. Of the two plays mentioned no fragments are extant; besides these we know the titles and possess a few fragments of three others, viz. 1. Boethoi, which is sometimes attributed to Aristophanes, the names of Aristomenes and Aristophanes being often confounded in the MSS. 2. Goetes, and 3. Dionusos asketes. There are also three fragments of which it is uncertain whether they belong to any of the plays here mentioned, or to others, the titles of which are unknown.
Augeas (or Augias), an Athenian poet of the middle comedy. Suidas (s. v.) and
Eudocia (p. 69) mention the following plays of his: Agroikos, Dis, Kateroumenos,
and Porphura. He appears likewise to have written epic poems, and to have borrowed
from Antimachus of Teos.
Autocrates (Autokrates), an Athenian, a poet of the old comedy. One of his plays,
the Tumpanistai, is mentioned by Suidas and Aelian (V. H. xii. 9). He also wrote
several tragedies (Suidas, s. v. Autokrates). The Autocrates whose Achaika is
quoted by Athenaeus (ix.) seems to have been a different person.
Axionicus (Axionikos), an Athenian poet of the middle comedy. Some unimportant fragments of the following plays have been preserved by Athenaeus (vi.,x.): the Turrhenos or Turrhenikos, Phileuripides, Philinna, Chalkidikos.
Baton, an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, flourished about 280 B. C. We
have fragments of the following comedies by him: Aitolos or Aitoloi, Euergetai,
Audrophonos, Sunexapaton. His plays appear to have been chiefly designed to ridicule
the philosophers of the day. His name is incorrectly written in some passages
of the ancient authors, Battos, Batton, Bathon. (Plut. de Am. et Adul. ; Suidas,
s. v.; Eudoc.; Phot. Cod. 167; Stobaeus, Florileg. xcviii. 18; Athen. xiv., iv.,
Calliades (Kalliades), a comic poet, who is mentioned by Athenaeus (xiii.), but about whom nothing further is known, than that a comedy entitled Agnoia was ascribed by some to Diphilus and by others to Calliades (Athen. ix.). From the former passage of Athenaeus it must be inferred, that Calliades was a contemporary of the archon Eucleides, B. C. 403, and that accordingly he belonged to the old Attic comedy, whereas the fact of the Agnoea being disputed between him and Diphilus shews that he was a contemporary of the latter, and accordingly was a poet of the new Attic comedy. For this reason Meineke (Hist. Crit. Com. Gr.) is inclined to believe that the name Calliades in Athenaeus is a mistake for Callias.
Callias, (Kallias), a comic poet, was according to Suidas (s. v.) a son of Lysimachus, and bore the name of Schoenion because his father was a rope or basket maker (schoinoplokos). He belonged to the old Attic comedy, for Athenaeus (x.) states, that he lived shortly before Strattis, who appears to have commenced his career as a comic poet about B. C. 412. From the Scholiast on Aristophanes (Equit. 526) we further learn, that Callias was an emulator of Cratinus. It is, therefore, probable that he began to come before the public prior to B. C. 424; and if it could be proved that he was the same person as Calliades, he would have lived at least till B. C. 402. We still possess a few fragments of his comedies, and the names of six are preserved in Suidas, viz. Aiguptios, Atalante (Zenob. iv. 7), Kuklopes (perhaps alluded to by Athen. ii., and Clem. Alex. Strom vi.), Pedetai (Athen. viii.; Schol. ad Aristoph. Av. 31, 151; Diog. Laert. ii. 18), Batrachoi, and Scholaxontes. Whether he is the same as the Callias whom Athenaeus (vii, x.) calls the author of a grammatike tragoedia, is uncertain. (Comp. Athen. iv., vii., xii.; Pollux, vii. 113)
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Callicrates (Kallikrates), is mentioned only once by Athenaeus (xiii.) as the author of a comedy called Moschion, and from the connexion in which his name appears there with those of Antiphanes and Alexis, it may be inferred that he was a poet of the middle Attic comedy.
Cantharus (Kantharos), a comic poet of Athens. (Suid. s. v.; Eudoc.) The only thing we have to guide us in determining his age is, that the cornedy entitled Symmachia, which commonly went by the name of Plato, was ascribed by some to Cantharus, whence we may infer, that he was a contemporary of Plato, the comic poet. Besides some fragments of the Symmachia, we possess a few of two other comedies, viz. the Medeia (Suid. and Mich. Apostol. s. v. Arabios auletes; Pollux, iv. 61), and Tereus. (Athen. iii.; Mich. Apostol. s. v. Athenaia.) Of two other comedies mentioned by Suidas, the Murmekes and the Aedones, no fragments are extant.
Cephisororus (Kephisodoros). An Athenian comic poet of the old comedy, gained
a prize B. C. 402 (Lysias, Drod.; Suidas, s. v.). This date is confirmed by the
title of one of his comedies, Antilais, which evidently refers to the celebrated
courtezan Lais; and also by his being mentioned in connexion with Cratinus, Aristophanes,
Callias, Diodes, Eupolis, and Hermippus. The following are the known titles of
his plays: Antilais, Amazones, Trophonios,Hus. A few fragments of them are preserved
by Photius and Suidas (s. v. Onos huetai, by Pollux. vi. 173, vii. 40, 87), and
by Athenaeus. (iii., viii., xi., xii., xiv., xv. ).
Clearchus (Klearchos), an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, whose time is
unknown. Fragments are preserved from his Kitharoidos (Athen. x., xiv.), Korinthioi
(xiv.), Pandrosos (xiv.), and from a play, the title of which is unknown.
Cratinus, son of Callimedes, was the eldest of that brilliant triad
of the Old Comedy, Eupolis atque Cratinus Aristophanesque poetae,
but of the details of his life little is known with certainty, except that he lived to be ninety-seven, that he died after he produced in 423 B.C. his Pytine, 'Flagon', a reply to the gibes of Aristophanes in his Knights exhibited in the previous year (424 B.C.), that he gained the first prize, Ameipsias being second with his Connus and Aristophanes third with the Clouds. We are further told by Lucian that he did not long survive his final triumph, whilst we learn from the Peace of Aristophanes, acted in 419 B.C., that Cratinus had died of grief at the breaking of a jar of wine by the Lacedaemonians in some incursion which must have been prior to the Peace of Nicias in 421 B.C. As his death falls probably in 422 B.C. and his age was then ninety-seven, his birth may be placed about 520-519 B.C., or some five years later than that of Aeschylus, who stands to Tragedy much as Cratinus does to the Old Comedy. He wrote thirty-one plays and gained nine victories. Eusebius states that he began to exhibit in Olympiad 81, 454-453 B.C., whilst the anonymous writer on Comedy states that he gained his first victory in Olympiad 85, i.e. after 437 B.C., when he was more than eighty. The critics have treated this last statement with incredulity because in one of his fragments he attacks Pericles for his delay in completing the Long Walls, which were finished about 451 B.C., and because there are some other fragments apparently belonging to an earlier period than 437 B.C. It is further alleged that the plays of Cratinus were acted by Crates before the latter began to exhibit for himself, which he did in 449-448 B.C. But the critics, as usual, have overleaped themselves, for there is no discrepancy between the statement of the anonymous writer and the other evidence, since he does not say that Cratinus did not exhibit before 437 B.C., but that he did not gain a victory until after that date, whilst Eusebius does not state that he won in 454-453 B.C., but that he began to exhibit in that year. The critics have thus assumed that to exhibit is to win. But we shall find that there are good grounds for believing that both Eusebius and the anonymous writer are right. Aristotle, though he knew well about Cratinus and his victory with the Flagon, makes no mention of him in his brief statement of the real rise of Attic Comedy, but gives the place of honour to Crates, who had acted for Cratinus before exhibiting his own plays. Why is this? He names Crates because he was 'the first of the Athenians who dropped the invective style and framed dialogues and plots of a general (i.e. non-personal) character'. Cratinus therefore fails to make this great step in which he was anticipated by his own actor, and adhered to and even aggravated the old style of violent personal invective. Moreover, he was an ardent member of the Conservative party, a warm panegyrist of Cimon, and a merciless detractor of Pericles, who, after the murder of Ephialtes in 462 B.C., had become the chief leader of the Demos. It would have indeed been strange had the verdict of a theatre packed with democrats assigned the first prize to such attacks on their idol as those in which Cratinus lashed Pericles for his tardiness in completing the Long Walls, but to this point we shall revert.
As regards his personal character, there is no doubt that he was much addicted to the wine-cup, as he himself admitted in his famous rejoinder to Aristophanes, in which he represented himself as having fallen completely under the influence of his mistress Pytine, i.e. wine-cup, who was personified on the stage as an attractive courtesan. But it may be questioned whether the charge of being 'a greater coward than Epeius' (the maker of the Wooden Horse), cited by Suidas, made against him by Taxiarch of the tribe Oeneis, was equally well founded, for he mus have had amongst his victims many ready to retaliate with any convenient calumny.
His chief contribution to the Old Comedy, in the words of an anonymous writer, was that 'he added the useful to the pleasing in Comedy by accusing evil-doers and punishing them with Comedy as with a public scourge'; and as was said by another ancient, 'he hurled his reproaches in the most direct and plainest of terms at the bare heads of the offenders.'
Alfred Bates,, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the TheatreHistory URL below.
Cratinus (Kratinos). One of the most celebrated Athenian comic poets of the old
comedy, the rise and complete perfection of which he witnessed during a life of
97 years. The dates of his birth and death can be ascertained with tolerable certainty
from the following circumstances :--In the year 424 B. C., Aristophanes exhibited
his Knights, in which he described Cratinus as a drivelling old man, wandering
about with his crown withered, and so utterly neglected by his former admirers
that he could not even procure wherewithal to quench the thirst of which he was
perishing (Equit. 531--534). This attack roused Cratinus to put forth all his
remaining strength in the play entitled Putine (the Flagon), which was exhibited
the next year, and with which he carried away the first prize above the Connus
of Ameipsias and the Clouds of Aristophanes (Arg. Nub). Now Lucian says that the
Putine was the last play of Cratinus, and that he did not long survive his victory
(Macrob. 25). Aristophanes also, in the Peace, which was acted in 419 B. C., says
that Cratinus died hoth hoi Lakones enebalon (Pax, 700, 701.) A doubt has been
raised as to what invasion Aristophanes meant. He cannot refer to any of the great
invasions mentioned by Thucydides, and we are therefore compelled to suppose some
irruption of a part of the Lacedaemonian army into Attica at the time when the
armistice, which was made shortly before the negotiations for the fifty years'
truce, was broken (B. C. 422). Now Lucian says (l. c.) that Cratinus lived 97
years. Thus his birth would fall in B. C. 519.
If we may trust the grammarians and chronographers, Cratinus did not begin his dramatic career till he was far advanced in life. According to an Anonymous writer on Comedy (p. xxix), he gained his first victory after the 85th Olympiad, that is, later than B. C. 437, and when he was more than 80 years old. This date is suspicious in itself, and is falsified by circumstantial evidence. For example, in one fragment he blames the tardiness of Pericles in completing the long walls which we know to have been finished in B. C. 451, and there are a few other fragments which evidently belong to an earlier period than the 85th Olympiad. Again, Crates the comic poet acted the plays of Cratinus before he began to write himself; but Crates began to write in B. C. 449--448. We can therefore have no hesitation in preferring the date of Eusebius (Chron. s. a. Ol. 81. 3), although he is manifestly wrong in joining the name of Plato with that of Cratinus. According to this testimony, Cratinus began to exhibit in B. C. 454--453, in about the 66th year of his age.
Of his personal history very little is known. His father's name was Callimedes, and he himself was taxiarch of the Phule Oineis (Suid. s. vv. Kratinos, Ereiou deiloteros). In the latter passage he is charged with excessive cowardice. Of the charges which Suidas brings against the moral character of Cratinus, one is unsupported by any other testimony, though, if it had been true, it is not likely that Aristophanes would have been silent upon it. Probably Suidas was misled by a passage of Aristophanes (Acharn. 849, 850) which refers to another Cratinus, a lyric poet (Schol. l. c.). The other charge which Suidas brings against Cratinus, that of habitual intemperance, is sustained by many passages of Aristophanes and other writers, as well as by the confession of Cratinus himself, who appears to have treated the subject in a very amusing way, especially in his Putine.
Cratinus exhibited twenty-one plays and gained nine victories (Suid. s. v.; Eudoc.; Anon. de Com.), and that pampsephei, according to the Scholiast on Aristophanes (Equit. 528).
Cratinus was undoubtedly the poet of the old comedy. He gave it its peculiar character, and he did not, like Aristophanes, live to see its decline. Before his time the comic poets had aimed at little beyond exciting the laughter of their audience: it was Cratinus who first made comedy a terrible weapon of personal attack, and the comic poet a severe censor of public and private vice. An anonymous ancient writer says, that to the pleasing in comedy Cratinus added the useful, by accusing evil-doers and punishing them with comedy as with a public scourge (Anon. de Com.). He did not even, like Aristophanes, in such attacks unite mirth with satire, but, as an ancient writer says, he hurled his reproaches in the plainest form at the bare heads of the offenders (Platonius, de Com.; Christodor. Ecphrasis, v. 357; Persius, Sat. i. 123). Still, like Aristophanes with respect to Sophocles, he sometimes bestowed the highest praise, as upon Cimon (Plut. Cim. 10). Pericles, on the other hand, was the object of his most persevering and vehement abuse.
It is proper here to state what is known of the circumstances under which Cratinus and his followers were permitted to assume this license of attacking institutions and individuals openly and by name. It evidently arose out of the close connexion which exists in nature between mirth and satire. While looking for subjects which could be put in a ridiculous point of view, the poet naturally fell upon the follies and vices of his countrymen. The free constitution of Athens inspired him with courage to attack the offenders, and secured for him protection from their resentment. And accordingly we find, that the political freedom of Athens and this license of her comic poets rose and fell together. Nay, if we are to believe Cicero, the law itself granted them impunity (De Repub. iv. 10: "apud quos [Graecos] fuit etiam lege concessum, ut quod vellet comoedia de quo vellet nominatim diceret"). The same thing is stated, though not so distinctly, by Themistius (Orat. viii.). This flourishing period lasted from the establishment of the Athenian power after the Persian war down to the end of the Peloponnesian war, or perhaps a few years later (about B. C. 460--393). The exercise of this license, however, was not altogether unopposed. In addition to what could be done personally by such men as Cleon and Alcibiades, the law itself interfered on more than one occasion. In the archonship of Morychides (B. C. 440-439), a law was made prohibiting the comic poets from holding a living person up to ridicule by bringing him on the stage by name (psephisma tou me komphdein onomasti, Schol. Arist. Acharn. 67). This law remained in force for the two following years, and was annulled in the archonship of Euthymenes (B. C. 437-- 36). Another restriction, which probably belongs to about the same time, was the law that no Areopagite should write comedies (Plut. Bell. an Pac. praest. Ath.).
From B. C. 436 the old comedy flourished in its highest vigour, till a series of attacks was made upon it by a certain Syracosius, who is suspected, with great probability, of having been suborned by Alcibiades. This Syracosius carried a law, me komoideisthai onomasti tina, probably about B. C. 416--415, which did not, however, remain in force long (Schol. Arist. Av. 1297). A similar law is said to have been carried by Antimachus, but this is perhaps a mistake (Schol. Arist. Acharn. 1149). That the brief aristocratical revolution of 411 B. C. affected the liberty of comedy can hardly be doubted, though we have no express testimony. If it declined then, we have clear evidence of its revival with the restoration of democracy in the Frogs of Aristophanes and the Cleophon of Plato (B. C. 405). It cannot be doubted that, during the rule of the thirty tyrants, the liberty of comedy was restrained, not only by the loss of political liberty, but by the exhaustion resulting from the war, in consequence of which the choruses could not be maintained with their ancient splendour. We even find a play of Cratinus without Chorus or Parabasis, namely, the Odusseis, but this was during the 85th Olympiad, when the above-mentioned law was in force. The old comedy, having thus declined, was at length brought to an end by the attacks of the dithyrambic poet Cinesias, and of Agyrrhius, and was succeeded by the Middle Comedy (about B. C. 393--392).
Besides what Cratinus did to give a new character and power to comedy, he is said to have made changes in its outward form, so as to bring it into better order, especially by fixing the number of actors, which had before been indefinite, at three (Anon. de Com.). On the other hand, however, Aristotle says, that no one knew who made this and other such changes (Poet. v. 4).
The character of Cratinus as a poet rests upon the testimonies of the ancient writers, as we have no complete play of his extant. These testimonies are most decided in placing him in the very first rank of comic poets. By one writer he is compared to Aeschylus (Anon. de Com.). There is a fragment of his own, which evidently is no vain boast, but expresses the estimation in which he was held by his contemporaries (Schol. Arist. Equit. 526). Amongst several allusions to him in Aristophanes, the most remarkable is the passage in the Knights referred to above, where he likens Cratinus to a rapid torrent, carrying everything before it, and says that for his many victories he deserved to drink in the Prytaneium, and to sit anointed as a spectator of the Dionysia. But, after all, his highest praise is in the fact, that he appeared at the Dionysia of the following year, not as a spectator, but as a competitor, and carried off the prize above Aristophanes himself. His style seems to have been somewhat grandiloquent, and full of tropes, and altogether of a lyric cast. He was very bold in inventing new words, and in changing the meaning of old ones. His choruses especially were greatly admired, and were for a time the favourite songs at banquets (Aristophanes, l. c.). It was perhaps on account of the dithyrambic character of his poetry that he was likened to Aeschylus, and it was no doubt for the same reason that Aristophanes called him taurophagon (Ran. 357; Apollon. Lex. Hom.). His metres seem to have partaken of the same lofty character. He sometimes used the epic verse. The "Cratinean metre" of the grammarians, however, was in use before his time. In the invention of his plots he was most ingenious and felicitous, but his impetuous and exuberant fancy was apt to derange them in the progress of the play (Platonius, p. xxvii).
Among the poets who imitated him more or less the ancient writers enumerate Eupolis, Aristophanes, Crates, Telecleides, Strattis, and others. The only poets whom he himself is known to have imitated are Homer and Archilochus (Platonius, l. c.;). His most formidable rival was Aristophanes (See, besides numerous passages of Aristophanes and the Scholia on him, Schol. Plat.). Among his enemies Aristophanes mentions hoi peri Kallian (l.c.). What Callias he means is doubtful, but it is most natural to suppose that it is Callias the son of Hipponicus.
There is much confusion among the ancient writers in quoting from his dramas. Meineke has shewn that the following plays are wrongly attributed to him :--Glaukos, Thrason, Heroes, Iiades, Kressai, Psephismata, Allotriognomones. These being deducted, there still remain thirty titles, some of which, however, certainly belong to the younger Cratinus. After all deductions, there remain twenty-four titles, namely, Archilochoi, Boukoloi, Deliades, Didaskaliai, Drapetides, Empipramenoi or Idaioi, Euneidai, Thraittai, Kleoboulinai, Dakones, Malthakoi, Nemesis, Nomoi, Odusseis, Panoptai, Pulaia, Ploutoi, Putine, Saturoi, Seriphioi, Trophonios, Cheimazomenoi, Cheirones, Horai. The difference between this list and the statement of the grammarians, who give to Cratinus only twenty-one plays, may be reconciled on the supposition that some of these plays had been lost when the grammarians wrote, as, for example, the Saturoi and Cheimazomenoi, which are mentioned only in the Didascalia of the Knights and Acharnians.
The following are the plays of Cratinus, the date of which is known with certainty:-
About 448. Archilochoi.
In 425. Cheimazomenoi, 2nd prize. Aristophanes was first, with the Acharnians.
424. Saturoi, 2nd prize. Aristophanes was first, with the Knights
423. Putine, 1st prize. 2nd. Ameipsias, Konnos. 3rd. Aristoph. Nephelai.
The chief ancient commentators on Cratinus were Asclepiades, Didymus, Callistratus, Euphronius, Symmachus, Aristarchus, and the Scholiasts.
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited June 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Cratinus the younger, an Athenian comic poet of the middle comedy, was a contemporary of Plato the philosopher (Diog. Laert. iii. 28) and of Corydus (Athen. vi. p. 241, c.), and therefore flourished during the middle of the 4th century B. C., and as late as 324 B. C. (Clinton, Fast. Hell. ii. p. xliii.) Perhaps he even lived down to the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus (Athen. xi. p. 469, c., compared with vi. p. 242, a.), but this is improbable. The following plays are ascribed to him :-- Gigantes, Theramenes, Omphale (doubtful), Ypobo-- limaios, Cheiron ; in addition to which, it is probable that some of the plays which are ascribed to the elder Cratinus, belong to the younger.
Crates (Krates), of Athens, a comic poet, of the old comedy, was a younger contemporary
of Cratinus, in whose plays he was the principal actor before he betook himself
to writing comedies (Diog. Laert. iv. 23; Aristoph. Equit. 536-540, and Schol.;
Anon. de Com. p. xxix.). He began to flourish in B. C. 449, 448 (Euseb. Chron),
and is spoken of by Aristophanes in such a way as to imply that he was dead before
the Knights was acted B. C. 424. With respect to the character of his dramas,
there is a passage in Aristotle (Poet. 5) which has been misunderstood, but which
seems simply to mean, that, instead of making his comedies vehicles of personal
abuse, he chose such subjects as admitted of a more general mode of depicting
character. This is confirmed by the titles and fragments of his plays and by the
testimony of the Anonymous writer on Comedy respecting his imitator, Pherecrates
(p. xxix). His great excellence is attested by Aristophanes, though in a somewhat
ironical tone (l. c.; comp. Ath. iii. p. 117, c.), and by the fragments of his
plays. He excelled chiefly in mirth and fun (Aristoph. l. c.; Anon. de Com. l.c.),
which he carried so far as to bring drunken persons on the stage, a thing which
Epicharmus had done, but which no Attic comedian had ventured on before (Ath.
x.). His example was followed by Aristophanes and by later comedians; and with
the poets of the new comedy it became a very common practice (Dion Chrysost. Orat.
Like the other great comic poets, he was made to feel strongly both the favour and the inconstancy of the people (Aristoph. l. c.). The Scholiast on this passage says, that Crates used to bribe the spectators,--a charge which Meineke thinks may have been taken from some comic poet who was an enemy to Crates. There is much confusion among the ancient writers about the number and titles of his plays. Suidas has made two comic poets of the name, but there can be little doubt that he is wrong. Other grammarians assign to him seven and eight comedies respectively (Anon. de Com). The result of Meineke's analysis of the statements of the ancient writers is, that fourteen plays are ascribed to Crates, namely, Geitones, Dionusos, Heroes, Theria, Thesauros, Lamia, Metoikoi, Ornithes, Paidiai, Pedetai, Hpetores, Samioi, Tolmai , Philarguros, of which the following are suspicious, Dionusos, Thesauros, Metoikoi, Ornithes, Pedetai, Philarguros, thus leaving eight, the number mentioned by the Anonymous writer on Comedy, namely, Geitones, Eroes, Theria, Lamia, Paidiai, Hpetores, Samioi, Tolmai. Of these eight plays fragments are still extant. There are also seventeen fragments, which cannot be assigned to their proper plays. The language of Crates is pure, elegant, and simple, with very few peculiar words and constructions. He uses a very rare metrical peculiarity, namely, a spondaic ending to the anapaestic tetrameter (Poll. vi. 53; Athen. iii.) Crates, Athenian actor and author of comedies, flourished about 470 B.C. He was regarded as the founder of Greek comedy proper, since he abandoned political lampoons on individuals, and introduced more general subjects and a well-developed plot (Aristotle, Poetica, 5). He is stated to have been the first to represent the drunkard on the stage. (Aristophanes, Knights, 37 ff.).
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Criton of Athens, a comic poet of the new comedy, of very little note. Of his comedies there only remain a few lines and three titles, Aitoloi, Philopragmon, and Messenia. (Pollux. ix. 4. 15, x. 7. 35; Ath. iv.; Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec.)
Crobylus (Krobulos), an Athenian comic poet, who is reckoned among the poets of
the new comedy, but it is uncertain whether he really belonged to the middle or
the new. About his age we only know for certain, that he lived about or after
B. C. 324, but not how long after. Some writers have confounded him with Hegesippus.
The following titles of his plays, and a few lines, are extant: Apanchomenos,
Apolipousa, Pseudupobolimaios (Athen.).
Demetrius (Demetrios), an Athenian comic poet of the old comedy (Diog. Laert. v. 85). The fragments which are ascribed to him contain allusions to events which took place about the 92nd and 94th Olympiads (B. C. 412, 404); but there is another in which mention is made of Seleucus and Agathocles. This would bring the life of the author below the 118th Olympiad, that is, upwards of 100 years later than the periods suggested by the other fragments. The only explanation is that of Clinton and Meineke, who suppose two Demetrii, the one a poet of the old comedy, the other of the new. That the later fragment belongs to the new comedy is evident from its subject as well as from its date. To the elder Demetrius must be assigned the Sikelia or Sikeloi, which is quoted by Athenaeus (iii.), Aelian (N. A. xii. 10), Hesychius (s. v. Emperons), and the Etymologicon Magnum (s. v. Emmeroi). Other quotations, without the mention of the play from which they are taken, are made by Athenaeus (ii.) and Stobaeus (Florileg. ii. 1). The only fragment of the younger Demetrius is that mentioned above, from the Areopagites) (Ath. ix.), which fixes his date, in Clinton's opinion, after 299 B. C.
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Demonicus (Demonikos), an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, of whom one fragment is preserved by Athenaeus (ix.), who gives Achelonios as the title of the play; but perhaps it should rather be Acheloios..
Demophilus. An Athenian comic poet of the new comedy. The only mention of him is in the Prologue to the Asinaria of Plautus, who says, that his play is taken from the Onagos of Demophilus, vv. 10-13,
"Huic nomen Graece est Onagos Fabulae.
Demophilus scripsit, Marcus vortit barbare.
Asinariam volt esse, si per vos licet.
Inest lepos ludusque in hac Comoedia."
Meineke observes that, judging from the "lepos ludusque" of the Asinaria, we have no need to regret the loss of the Onagos.
Demostratus, a person in whose name Eupolis exhibited his comedy Autolukos (Ath. v.). He is ranked among the poets of the new comedy on the authority of Suidas (s. v. charax, Demostratos Demopoietoi) : but here we ought probably to read Timostratos, who is known as a poet of the new comedy.
Timostratus (Timostratos), a comic poet, of unknown time, the author of four dramas, Asotos, Pan, Parakatatheke, and Philodespotes, of which we have scarcely any remnants, beyond the titles. (Antiatt.; Phot Lex. s. v. chagra.) He is mentioned by Photius among the poets quoted by Stobaeus (Bibl. Cod. 167); but no references to him are found in our present copies of Stobaeus. It is probable also that the name of a poet Demostratos, whose Demopoietos is quoted by Suidas (s. c. charax) is an error for Timostratos.
Demoxenus. (Damoxenos) was an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, and perhaps partly of
the middle. Two of his plays, entitled Euntrophoi and Heauton penthon, are mentioned
by Athenaeus, who quotes a long passage from the former, and a few lines from
the latter. Elsewhere he calls him, less correctly, Demoxenus. The longer fragment
was first published, with a Latin version, by Hugo Grotius, in his Excerpta ex
Tragoedus et Comoedus Graecis, Par. 1626 (Ath.; Suid.; Eudoc.).
Dexicrates (Dexikrates), an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, whose drama entitled (Huph heauton planomenoi is quoted by Athenaeus (iii.). Suidas also refers to the passage in Athenaeus.
Dexippus (Dexippos), a comic poet of Athens, respecting whom no particulars are
known. Suidas (s. v. Korukaios) mentions one of his plays entitled Thesuros, and
Eudocia has preserved the titles of four others, viz. Antipornoboskos, Philarguros,
Historiographos, and DiadikaZomenoi.
Dioxippus (Dioxippos), an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy (Suid.), wrongly
called Dexippus in another passage of Suidas, (s. v. Korukaios) and by Eudocia
(p. 132). Suidas and Eudocia mention his Antipornoboskos, of which a line and
a half are preserved by Athenaeus, Historiographos (Ath.), which Vossius conjectures
was intended to ridicule the fabulous Greek historians, Diadikazomenoi, of which
nothing remains, and Philarguros. (Ath.). To these must be added, from Suidas
and Photius (s. v. Korukaios), the Thesauros.
He is recorded as Athenian comic poet, however they was native of Sinope, where all articles & information are recorded.
Dromon. An Athenian comic poet of the middle comedy, from whose Psaltria two fragments are quoted by Athenaeus (vi., ix.). In the former of these fragments mention is made of the parasite Tithymallus, who is also mentioned by Alexis, Timocles, and Antiphanes, who are all poets of the middle comedy, to which therefore it is inferred that Dromon also belonged. A play of the same title is ascribed to Eubulus.
Ecphantides (Ekphantides), an Athenian comic poet of the old comedy, flourished
after Magnes, and a little before Cratinus and Telecleides (Nake, Choerilus).
He is called by Aspasius (ad Aristot. Eth. Nicom. iv. 2) ton archaion palaiotaton
poieten, which words some writers understand as implying that he was older than
Chionides and Magnes. But we have the clear testimony of Aristotle (Poct. v. 3),
that all the poets before Magnes furnished their choruses at their own expense,
whereas the name of a person who was choragus for Ecphantides is mentioned also
by Aristotle (Polit. viii. 6). Again, a certain Androcles, to whom Cratinus and
Telecleides often refer, was also attacked by Ecphantides, who could not, therefore,
have flourished long before those poets (Schol. Aristoph. Vesp. 1182). The date
of Ecphantides may be placed about Ol. 80 (B. C. 460), and onwards. The meaning
of the surname of Kapnias, which was given to Ecphantides by his rivals, has been
much disputed, but it seems to imply a mixture of subtlety and obscurity. He ridiculed
the rudeness of the old Megaric comedy, and was himself ridiculed on the same
ground by Cratinus, Aristophanes, and others (Hesych. s. v. Kapnias; Schol. Aristoph.
Vesp. 151; Nake, Choeril.).
There is only one certain title of a play by Ecphantides extant, namely, the Saturoi, a line of which is preserved by Athenaeus (iii.). Another play, Puraunos is ascribed to him by Nake on conjectural grounds; but Meineke ascribes it to Autiphanes. Another title, Donusos, is obtained by Nake from a comparison of Suidas (s. v. Euie) with Hephaestion (xv. 13). Ecphantides was said to have been assisted in composing his plays by his slave Choelilus.
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Choerilus, a slave of the comic poet Ecphantides, whom he was said to assist in the composition of his plays (Hesych. s.v. Ekkechoirilomene and Choirilon Ekphantidos). This explains the error of Eudocia, that the epic poet Choerilus wrote tragedies.
Ephippus (Ephippos), of Athens, was a comic poet of the middle comedy, as we learn from the testimonies of Suidas (s. v.), and Antiochus of Alexandria (Athen. xi.),and from the allusions in his fragments to Plato, and the Academic philosophers (Athen. xi. p. 509, c. d.), and to Alexander of Pherae and his contemporaries, Dionysius the Elder, Cotys, Theodorus, and others (Athen. iii. xi.). The following are the known titles of his plays: Artemis, Bousiris, Geruones, Empole Epheboi, Kirke, Kudon, Nauagos, Obeliaphoroi, Homoioi, Peltastes, Sappho, Philura. An epigram which Eustathius ascribes to Ephippus (ad Ilad. xi. 697) is not his, but the production of soine unknown author (Comp. Athen. x.). There are some fragments also extant from the unknown plays of Ephippus.
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Epigenes. An Athenian poet of the middle comedy. Pollux indeed (vii. 29) speaks
of him as neon tis komikon, but the terms "middle" and "new," as Clinton remarks,
are not always very carefully applied (See Arist. Eth. Nic. iv. 8. 6). Epigenes
himself, in a fragment of his play called Mnemation ( Ath. xi.) speaks of Pixodarus,
prince of Caria, as "the king's son"; and from this Meineke argues, that the comedy
in question musth ave been written while Hecatomnus, the father of Pixodarus,
was yet alive, and perhaps about B. C. 380. We find besides in Athenaeus (ix),
that there was a doubt among the ancients whether the play called Argurion aphanismos
should be assigned to Epigenes or Antiphanes. These poets therefore must have
Epilycus (Epilukos), an Athenian comic poet of the old comedy, who is mentioned
by an ancient grammarian in connexion with Aristophanes and Philyllius, and of
whose play Koraliskos a few fragments are preserved. (Suid.; Athen.; Phot. Lex.
s. V. tettigonion) An epic poet of the same name, a brother of the comic poet
Crates, is mentioned by Suidas (s. v. Krates).
Epinicus (Epinikos), an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, two of whose plays
are mentioned, Hupoballomenai and Mnesiptolemos. The latter title determines his
date to the time of Antiochus the Great, about B. C. 217, for Mnesiptolemus was
an historian in great favour with that king. (Suid.; Eudoc.; Athen.)
Eriphus (Eriphos), an Athenian comic poet of the middle comedy. According to Athenaeus,
he lived at the same time as Antiphanes, or onl va little later, and he copied
whole verses from Antiphanes. That he belonged to the middle comedy, is sufficiently
shewn by the extant titles of his plays, namely, Aiolos, Meliboia, Peltastes.
Eustathius (ad Hom) calls him logios aner. (Athen.; Antiatt.; Suidas; Eudoc.)
Eudoxus (Eudoxos). An Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, was by birth a Sicilian
and the son of Agathoeles. He gained eight victories, three at the city Dionysia,
and five at the Lenaea. His Naukleros and Hgpobolimaios are quoted. (Apollod.
ap. Diog. Laert. viii. 90; Poll. vii. 201; Zenob. Adag.i. 1)
Eunicus (Eunikos), an Athenian comic of the old comedy, contemporary with Aristophanes
and Philyllius. Only one line of his is preserved, from his play Anteia, which
was also attributed to Philyllius. The title is taken from the courtezan, Anteia,
who is mentioned by Demosthenes (c. Neuer.) and Ananandrides (ap. Athen.) and
who was also made the subject of comedies by Alexis and Antiphanes. There was
also a comeedy, entitled Poleis, which was variously ascribed to Aristophanes,
Philyllius, and Eunicus. The name of this poet is sometimes given incorrectly
Ainikos. (Suid. s. v. Ainikos; Eudoc.; Theognostus; Athen.)
Eupolis, son of Sosipolis, an Athenian comic poet of the old comedy, and one of
the three who are distinguished by Horace, in his well-known line,
" Eupolis, atque Cratinus, Aristophanesque poetae," above all the
... " alii quorum prisca comoedia virorum est,"
a judgment which is confirmed by all we know of the works of the Attic comoedians.
Eupolis is said to have exhibited his first drama in the fourth year of the 87th Olympiad, B. C. 429/8, two years before Aristophanes, who was nearly of the same age as Eupolis. According to Suidas (s. v.), Eupolis was then only in the seventeenth year of his age; he was therefore born in B. C. 446/5.The date of his death cannot be so easily fixed. The common story was, that Alcibiades, when sailing to Sicily, threw Eupolis into the sea, in revenge for an attack which he had made upon him in his Baptai. But, to say nothing of the improbability of even Alcibiades venturing on such an outrage, or the still stranger fact of its not being alluded to by Thucydides or any other trustworthy historian, the answer of Cicero is conclusive, that Eratosthenes mentioned plays produced by Eupolis after the Sicilian expedition (Ad Att. vi. 1). There is still a fragment extant, in which the poet applies the title strategon to Aristarchus, whom we know to have been strategos in the year B. C. 412/1, that is, four years later than the date at which the common story fixed the death of Eupolis. The only discoverable foundation for this story, and probably the true account of the poet's death, is the statement of Suidas, that he perished at the Hellespont in the war against the Lacedaemonnians, which, as Meineke observes, must refer either to the battle of Cynossema (B. C. 411), or to that of Aegospotami (B. C. 405). That he died in the former battle is not improbable, since we never hear of his exhibiting after B. C. 412; and if so, it is very likely that the enemies of Alcibiades might charge him with taking advantage of the confusion of the battle to gratify his revenge. Meineke throws out a conjecture that the story may have arisen from a misunderstanding of what Lysias says about the young Alcibiades. There are, however, other accounts of the poet's death, which are altogether different. Aelian (N. A. x. 41) and Tzetzes (Chil. iv. 245) relate, that he died and was buried in Aegina, and Pausanias (ii. 7.4) says, that he saw his tomb in the territory of Sicyon. Of the personal history of Eupolis nothing more is known. Aelian tells a pleasant tale of his faithful dog, Augeas, and his slave Ephialtes.
The chief characteristic of the poetry of Eupolis seems to have been the liveliness of his fancy, and the power which he possessed of imparting its images to the audience. This characteristic of his genius influenced his choice of subjects, as well as his mode of treating them, so that he not only appears to have chosen subjects which other poets might have despaired of dramatizing, but we are expressly told that he wrought into the body of his plays those serious political views which other poets expounded in their parabases, as in the Demoi, in which he represented the legislators of other times conferring on the administration of the state. To do this in a genuine Attic old comedy, without converting the comedy into a serious philosophic dialogue, must have been a great triumph of dramatic art (Platon. de Div. Char.). This introduction of deceased persons on the stage appears to have given to the plays of Eupolis a certain dignity, which would have been inconsistent with the comic spirit had it not been relieved by the most graceful and clever merriment (Platon. l. c.). In elegance he is said to have even surpassed Aristophanes (Ibid. Macrob. Sat. vii. 5), while in bitter jesting and personal abuse he emulated Cratinus (Anon. de Com.; Pers. Sat. i. 124). Among the objects of his satire was Socrates, on whom he made a bitter, though less elaborate attack than that in the Clouds of Aristophanes (Schol. ad Aristoph. Nub. 97, 180; Etym. Mag.; Lucian. Pisc.). Innocence seems to have afforded no shelter, for he attacked Autolycus, who is said to have been guilty of no crime, and is only known as having been distinguished for his beauty, and as a victor in the pancratium, as vehemently as Callias, Alcibiades, Melanthius, and others. Nor were the dead exempt from his abuse, for there are still extant some lines of his, in which Cimon is most unmercifully treated (Plut. Cim. 15; Schol. ad Aristeid.). It is hardly necessary to observe that these attacks were mingled with much obscenity (Schol. ad Aristoph. Pac. 741, 1142, Nub. 296, 541).
A close relation subsisted between Eupolis and Aristophanes, not only as rivals, but as imitators of each other Cratinus attacked Aristophanes for borrowing from Eupolis, and Eupolis in his Baptai made the same charge, especially with reference to the Knights, of which he says:
kakeinous tous Hippeas xunepoiesa toi phalakroi toutoi kadoresamen.
The Scholiasts specify the last Parabasis of the Knights as borrowed from Eupolis. On the other hand, Aristophanes, in the second (or third) edition of the Clouds, retorts upon Eupolis the charge of imitating the Knights in his Maricas, and taunts him with the further indignity of jesting on his rival's baldness. There are other examples of the attacks of the two poets upon one another.
The number of the plays of Eupolis is stated by Suidas at seventeen, and by the anonymous writer at fourteen. The extant titles exceed the greater of these numbers, but some of them are very doubtful. The following fifteen are considered by Meineke to be genuine: Aiges, Astrateutoi e Androgunai, Autolukos, Baptai, Demoi, Diaiton, Heilotes, Kolakes, Marikas, Noumeniai, Poleis, Prostaltioi, Taxiarchoi, Hubriostodikai, Chrusoun Prospaltioi, Ubristodikai, Chrusoun genos. An analysis of these plays, so far as their subjects can be ascertained, will be found in the works quoted below, and especially in that of Meineke. The following are the plays of Eupolis, the dates of which are known :
B. C. 425. At the Lenaea. Noumeniai.Third Prize. 1st. Aristophanes, A.charneis. 2nd. Cratinus, Cheimaxomenoi.
" 423 or 422. Astrateutoi.
" 421. Marikas. Probably at the Lenaea.
" " Kolakes. At the great Dionysia. First Prize. 2nd. Aristoph. Eirene.
" 420. Autolukos.
Eupolis, like Aristophanes and other comic poets, brought some of his plays on the stage in the name of another person, Apollodorus (Athen. v.).
Hephaestion mentions a peculiar choriambic metre, which was called Eupolidean, and which was also used by the poets of the middle and of the new comedy.
The names of Eupolis and Eubulus are often confounded.
(Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. ii. pp. 445--448 Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec. vol. i. pp. 104--146, vol. ii. pp. 426-579; Bergk, Commment. de Reliq. Com. Att. Ant. pp. 332--366; Clinton, Fast. Hellen. vol. ii. sub annis.)
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Euphron, an Athenian comic poet of the new comedy, whose plays, however, seem
to have partaken largely of the character of the middle comedy. We have the titles
and some considerable fragments of the following plays: Adelphoi Aischra, Apodidousa
(according to the excellent emendation of Meineke, Euphron for Euphorion Athen.
xi.), Didumoi, Theon *agora, Theoroi, Mousai, Parekdidomene (or, as Meineke thinks
it should perhaps be, Parekdidomene, which is the title of a play of Antiphanes),
Sunepheboi. (Suid. s. v. ; Athen. passim: Stobaeus, Flor. xv. 2, xxviii. 11, xcviii.
Euthycles (Euthukles). An Athenian contic poet of the old comedy, whose plays
asotoi e Epiostle and Atalante are mentioned by Suidas (s. v. Euthukles and Bous
exdomos), and the former is quoted by Athcnaeus (iii.). Nothing more is known of him.
Evetes (Euetes) and Euxenides, were Athenian comic poets, contemporary with Epicharmus,
about B. C. 485. Nothing is heard of comic poetry during an interval of eighty
years from the time of Susarion, till it was revived by Epicharmus in Sicily,
and by Evetes, Euxenides, and Myllus at Athens. The only writer who mentions these
two poets is Suidas (s. v. Epichapeos). Myllus is not unfrequently mentioned.
There is also a Pythagorean philosopher, Evetes, of whom nothing is known but his name. (Iamblich. Vit. Pyth. 36)
Heniochus (Heniochos), an Athenian comic poet of the middle comedy, whose plays,
as mentioned by Suidas, were: Trochilos, Epikleros, Gorgones, Polupragmon, Thorukion,
Polueuktos, Philetairos, Dis exapatomenos, a few fragments of which are preserved
by Atheneus and Stobaeus (Serm. xliii. 27). Suidas (s. v. polueuktos) has made
a curious blunder, calling Heniochus a play by the comic poet Polyeuctus The Polyeuctus,
who gave the title to the play of Heniochus, was an orator in the time of Demosthenes.
Hermippus (Hermippos). An Athenian comic poet of the old comedy, was the son of
Lysis and the brother of the comic poet Myrtilus. He was a little younger than
Telecleides, but older than Eupolis and Aristophanes (Suid. s. v.). He vehemently
attacked Pericles, especially on the occasion of Aspasia's acquittal on the charge
of asebeia, and in connection with the beginning of the Peloponnesian war (Plut.
Peric. 32, 33). He also attacked Hyperbolus (Aristoph. Nub. v. 553). According
to Suidas, he wrote forty plays, and his chief actor was Simermon. There are extant
of his plays several fragments and nine titles; viz. Athenas gonai, Artopolides,
Demotai, Europe, Theoi, Kerkopes, Moirai, Stratiotai, Phormophoroi. The statement
of Athenaeus that Hermippus also wrote parodies, seems to refer not to any separate
works of his, but to parodies contained in his plays, of which there are examples
in the extant fragments, as well as in the plays of other comic poets.
Besides the comedies of Hermippus, several of the ancient writers quote his Iambics, Trimeters, and Tetrameters. Meineke's analysis of these quotations leaves little room to doubt that Hermippus published scurrilous poems, like those of the old iambic poets, partly in Iambic trimeters, and partly in trochaic tetrameters.
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Hipparchus (Hipparchos), literary. 1. An Athenian comic poet. Suidas (s. v.) assigns him to the old comedy; but from what he adds, that "his dramas were about marriages," and from the extant titles of his plays, namely, Anasozomenoi, Pannuchis, Thais, and Zographos, it is evident that Hipparchus belonged to the new comedy. He was probably contemporary with Diphilus and Menander.
Laon, an Athenian comic poet, who is mentioned by Stobaeus (Flor. cxxiii. 5),
and of whose works a single line is preserved by Dicaearchus. It is doubtful whether
he belongs to the old or to the middle comedy.
Leucon (Leukon), the son of Hagnon, according to Toup's emendation of Suidas (s.
v.), an Athenian comic poet, of the old comedy, was a contemporary and rival of
Aristophanes. In B. C. 422 he contended, with his Presbeis, against the Wasps
of Aristophanes, and in the following year, with his Phrateres, against the Peace
of Aristophanes, and the kolakes of Eupolis; on both occasions he obtained the
third place (Didasc. ad Vesp. et Pac.) Suidas also mentions his Onos askophoros.
The story on which this play was founded is explained by Bockh (Publ. Oecon. of
No fragments of his plays survive. The title Phrateres is usually corrupted into Phratores. (Athen. viii.; Suid. s. v. Leukon; Hesych. s. v. Paapis; Phot. s. v. Tibioi)
Lexiphanes, an Athenian comic poet, quoted by Alciphron (Epist. iii. 71). It is uncertain whether he belonged to the middle or to the new comedy.
Lycis (Lukis), an Athenian comic poet, who is only known by the reference to him in the Frogs of Aristophanes (14; comp. Schol. and Suid. s. v.). He is also called Lycus. In fact Lycis, Lycius, and Lycus, are only different forms of the same name.
Metagenes, an Athenian comic poet of the Old Comedy, contemporary with Aristophanes, Phrynichus, and Plato. (Schol. in Aristoph. Av. 1297.) Suidas gives the following titles of his plays : Aurai, Mammakuthos, Thouriopersai, Philothutes, Homeros e Asketai, some of which appear to be corrupt.
Myllus (Mullos), a comic poet, a contemporary of Epicharmus, who with Euetes and Euxenides revived comedy in Athens at the same time that Epicharmus was labouring in the same direction in Sicily. He appears to have been especially successful in the representation of a deaf man, who, nevertheless, hears every thing; whence arose a proverb, mullos pant akouei. According to Eustathius he was an actor as well as a dramatist, and still adhered to the old practice of having the faces of his actors besmeared with red-ochre. (Suidas, s. v. Epicharmos; Hesychius, vol. ii.; Eustathius, ad Il. 53, ad Od., 21)
Nicophon and Nicophron (Nikophon, Nikophron). The former is undoubtedly the correct
orthography; Suidas is the only authority for the latter. He mentions tile name
four times (s. vv. Nikophron, arachne, serphoz, koimisai.), in the two first of
which he calls him Nikophron, but every where else, both by him and others, Nikophon
is the name given. He was the son of Theron, an Athenian, and a contemporary of
Aristophanes at the close of his career. Athenaeus (iii. 126, e.) states that
he belonged to the old, but he seems rather to have belonged to the middle comedy.
1. We learn from the argument to the Plutus III. of Aristophanes that he competed for the prize with four others, B. C. 388, Aristophanes exhibiting the second edition of his Plutus, and Nicophon a play called Adonis, of which no fragments remain, and which is nowhere else mentioned.
2. Suidas (s. v. Nikophron) and Eudocia alone mention another play of his, Ex hadou anion. Besides these, he wrote other four plays, which are more frequently mentioned.
3. Aphro detez gonai (Suid. s. vv. Nikophron, arachne, serphoz ; Pollux, x. 156; Schol. ad Aristoph. Aves, 82, 1283).
4. Pandora (Suid. s. vv. Nik., koimisai; Athen. vii. b.; Pollux, vii. 33).
5. Cheirogastores (Athen. iii.e. ix. a. ; Schol. ad Aristoph. Aves, 1550). Suidas calls this play Encheirogastores. Meineke gives to Nicophon three lines quoted by Athenaeus from a play bearing the name of Cheirogas-tores, which had before been given to Nicochares, and in this he is followed by Dindorf.
6. Seirenes (Suid.; Athen. iii. b. vi. e. ix. b.). Besides these references there are others of less importance, collected by Meineke. No more than about twenty-seven lines of his writings remain; and from these, we can only say, as to his merits as a comic writer, that he seems to have possessed no small fund of humour.
Ophelion. An Athenian comic poet, probably of the Middle Comedy, of whom Suidas says that Athenaeus, in his second book, mentions the following as being his plays: Deukalion, Kallaischros, Kentauros, Saturoi, Mousai, Monotrupoi, or rather, according to the emendation of Toup, Monotropoi, The last three of these titles are elsewhere assigned by Suidas to Phrynichus. In the second book of Athenaeus, which Suidas quotes, none of the titles are mentioned, but Ophelion is thrice quoted, without the name of the play referred to (Athen. ii.); and, in the third book, Athenaeus quotes the Callaeschrus, and also another play, which Suidas does not mention (iii. p. 106, a.). The reasons for assigning him to the Middle Comedy are, the reference to Plato in Athen. ii. p. 66, d., and the statement that he used some verses which were also found in Eubulus (Athen. ii., where the name of Ophelion is rightly substituted by Porson for that of Philetas). Who may have been the Callaeschrus, whose name formed the title of one of his plays, we cannot tell; but if he was the same as the Callaeschrus, who formed the subject of one of the plays of Theopompus, the date of Ophelion would be fixed before the 100th Olympiad, B. C. 380. There is, perhaps, one more reference to Ophelion, again corrupted into Philetas, in Hesychius, s. u. Isis.
Sosipater (Sosipagros). An Athenian comic poet, of the New, and perhaps also of the Middle Comedy. He is only mentioned by Athenaeus (ix.), who quotes a very long passage from his Kagapseudomenos, in which mention is made of the cook Chariades, to whom the comic poet Euphron refers as being dead. (Ath. ix.) Hence it is inferred that Sosipater flourished shortly before Euphron.
Philippides, of Athens, the son of Pliilocles, is mentioned as one of the six
principal comic poets of the New Comedy by the grammarians (Proleg. ad Aristoph.;
Tzetz. Prole. ad Lycohr., with the emendation of Philippides for Philistion).
According to Suidas, he flourished in the 111th Olympiad, or B. C. 335, a date
which would throw him back rather into the period of the Middle Comedy. There
are, however, several indications in the fragments of his plays that he flourished
under the successors of Alexander; such as, first, his attacks on Stratocles,
the flatterer of Demetrius and Antigonus, (Plut. Demrtr. 12, 26, Amator..), and
more particularly his ridicule of the honours which were paid to Demetrius through
the influence of Stratocles, in B. C. 301; again, his friendship with king Lysimachus,
who was induced by him to confer various favours on the Athenians, and who assumed
the royal title in B. C. 306 (Plut. Demetr. 12); and the statements of Plutarch
(l. c.) and Diodorus (xx. 110), that he ridiculed the Eleusinian mysteries, into
which he had been initiated in the archonship of Nicocles, B. C. 302. It is true,
as Clinton remarks that these indications may be reconciled with the possibility
of his having flourished at the date given by Suidas; but a sounder criticism
requires us to alter that date to suit these indications, which may easily be
done, as Meineke proposes... the latter Olympiad corresponding to B. C. 323. It
is a confirmation of this date, that in the list above referred to of the six
chief poets of the New Comedy, Philippides comes, not first, but after Philemon,
Menander, and Diphilus: for if the list had been in order of merit, and not of
time, Menander would have stood first. The mistake of Suidas may be explained
by his confounding Philippides, the comic poet, with the demagogue Philippides,
against whom Hyperides composed an oration, and who is ridiculed for his leanness
by Alexis, Aristophon, and other poets of the Middle Comedy; an error into which
other writers also have fallen, and which Clinton (l. c.) has satisfactorily refuted.
Philippides seems to have deserved the rank assigned to him, as one of the best poets of the New Comedy. He attacked the luxury and corruptions of his age, defended the privileges of his art, and made use of personal satire with a spirit approaching to that of the Old Comedy. Plutarch eulogizes him highly (Demetr. l. c.). His death is said to have been caused by excessive joy at an unexpected victory (Gell. iii. 15): similar tales are told of the deaths of other poets, as for example, Sophocles, Alexis, and Philemon. It appears, from the passage of Gellius just quoted, that Philippides lived to an advanced age.
The number of his dramas is stated by Suidas at forty-five. There are fifteen titles extant, namely: Adoniazousai, Amphioraos, Ananeosis, Arguriou aphanismos, Auloi, Basanizomene, Lakiadai, Mastropos, Olunthia, Sumpleousai, or perhaps Sunekpleousai, Philadelphoi, Philathenaios, Philarguros Philarchos, Phileuripides. In the Amphiaraos we have one of those titles which show that the poets of the New Comedy did not abstain from mythological subjects. To the above list should perhaps be added the Triodoi e Rhopopoles. The Kothornoi of Philonides, and the Nannion of Eubulus or Philippus, are erroneously ascribed to Philippides. The latter is only one of several instances in which the names of Philippides and Philippus are confounded. Some of the ancient critics charge Philippides with infringing upon the purity of the Attic dialect (Phryn. Ecl.; Pollux, ix. 30), and Meineke produces several words from his fragments as examples.
They are recorded as Athenians comic poets, coming early in Athens and receiving citizenship. However they are natives of Soli in Cilicia, where all articles & information are recorded.
Pherecrates (Pherekrates) of Athens, was one of the best poets of the Old Comedy
(Anon. de Corn.). He was contemporary with the comic poets Cratinus, Crates, Eupolis,
Plato, and Aristophanes (Suid. s. v. Platon), being somewhat younger than the
first two, and somewhat older than the others. One of the most important testimonies
respecting him is evidently corrupted, but can be amended very well; it is as
follows (Anon. de Com.): Pherekrates Athenaios wikai epi theatrou ginomenos, ho
de hupokrites exeloke Krateta. Kai au tou men loidorein apeste, pragmata de eisegoumenos
kaina eudokimei genomenos heuretikos muthon. Dobree corrects the passage thus:
Ph.A. nikai epi Theodorou, genomenos de hupokrites ezeloke Krateta, k.t.l. ; and
his emendation is approved by Meineke and others of our best critical scholars.
From the passage, thus read, we learn that Pherecrates gained his first victory
in the archonship of Theodorus, B. C. 438; and that he imitated the style of Crates,
whose actor he had been. From the latter part of the quotation, and from an important
passage in Aristotle (Poet. 5) we see what was the character of the alteration
in comedy, commenced by Crates, and carried on by Pherecrates; namely, that they
very much modified the coarse satire and vituperation of which this sort of poetry
had previously been the vehicle (whatt Aristotle calls he iambike idea), and constructed
their comedies on the basis of a regular plot, and with more dramatic action.
Pherecrates did not, however, abstain altogether from personal satire, for we
see by the fragments of his plays that he attacked Alcibiades, the tragic poet
Melanthius, and others (Ath. viii., xii.; Phot. Lex.). But still, as the fragments
also show, his chief characteristics were, ingenuity in his plots and elegance
in diction: hence he is called Attikotatos (Ath. vi.; Steph. Byz.; Suid. s.v.
Athenaia). His language is not, however, so severely pure as that of Aristophanes
and other comic poets of the age, as Meineke shows by several examples.
Of the invention of the new metre, which was named, after him, the Pherecratean, he himself boasts in the following lines (ap. Hephaest. x. 5, xv. 15, Schol in Ar. Naub. 563):
andres, proschete ton noun
The system of the verse, as shown in the above example, is which may be best explained as a choriambus, with a spondee for its base, and a long syllable for its termination. Pherecrates himself seems to call it an anapaestic metre; and it might be scanned as such: but he probably only means that he used it in the parabases, which were often called anapaests, because they were originally in the anapaestic metre (in fact we hold the anapaestic verse to be, in its origin, choriambic). Hephaestion explains the metre as an hephthemimeral antispastic, or, in other words, an antispastic dimeter catalectio (Hephaest. ll.). The metre is very frequent in the choruses of the Greek tragedians, and in Horace, as, for example,
Grato Pyrrha sub antro.
There is a slight difference in the statements respecting the number of his plays. The Anonymous writer on comedy says eighteen, Suidas and Eudocia sixteen. The extant titles, when properly sifted, are reduced to eighteen, of which some are doubtful. The number to which Meineke reduces them is fifteen, namely, Agrioi, Automoloi, Graes, Doulodidaskalos, Epilesmon e Thalatta, Ipnos e Pannuchis, Korianno, Krapataloi, Leroi, Murmekanthropoi, Petale, Turannis, Pseuderakles.. Of these the most interesting is the Agrioi, on account of the reference to it in Plato's Protagoras, which has given rise to much discussion. Heinrichs has endeavoured to show that the subject of the play related to those corruptions of the art of music of which the comic poets so frequently complain, and that one of the principal performers was the Centaur Cheiron, who expounded the laws of the ancient music to a chorus of wild men (agrioi), that is, either Centaurs or Satyrs; and he meets the obvious objection, that the term misanthoopoi, which Plato applies to the Chorus, is not suitable to describe Satyrs or Centaurs, by changing it into hemianthropoi. The same view is adopted by Ast and Jacobs, but with a less violent change in Plato's text, namely, mixanthropoi. The common reading is, however, successfully defended by Meineke, who shows that there is no sufficient reason for supposing that Cheiron appeared in the Agrioi at all, or that the Chorus were not really what the title and the allusion in Plato would naturally lead us to suppose, namely, wild men. The play seems to have been a satire on the social corruptions of Athens, through the medium of the feelings excited at the view of them in men who are uncivilized themselves and enemies to the civilized part of mankind. The play was acted at the Lenaea, in the month of February, B. C. 420 (Plat. l. c. ; Ath. v.). The subjects of the remaining plays are fully discussed by Meineke. The name of Pherecrates is sometimes confounded with Crates and with Pherecydes.
Plato (Platon), one of the chief Athenian comic poets of the Old Comedy, was contemporary
with Aristophanes, Phrynichus, Eupolis, and Pherecrates (Suid. s. v.). He is erroneously
placed by Eusebius (Chron.) and Syncellus as contemporary with Cratinus, at Ol.
81.3, B. C. 454; whereas, his first exhibition was in Ol. 88, B. C. 427, as we
learn from Cyril (adv. Julian. i.), whose testimony is confirmed by the above
statement of Suidas, and by the fact that the comedies of Plato evidently partook
somewhat of the character of the Middle Comedy, to which, in fact, some of the
grammarians assign him. He is mentioned by Marcellinus (Vit. Thuc.) as contemporary
with Thucydides, who died in Ol. 97. 2, B. C. 391; but Plato must have lived a
few years longer, as Plutarch quotes from him a passage which evidently refers
to the appointment of the demagogue Agyrrhius as general of the army of Lesbos
in Ol. 97. 3 (Plut. de Repub. gerend.), The period, therefore, during which Plato
flourished was from B. C. 428 to at least B. C. 389.
Of the personal history of Plato nothing more is known, except that Suidas tells a story of his being so poor that he was obliged to write comedies for other persons (s. v. Arkadas mimoumenoi). Suidas founds this statement on a passage of the Peiscnder of Plato, in which the poet alludes to his labouring for others: but the story of his poverty is plainly nothing more than an arbitrary conjecture, made to explain the passage, the true meaning of which, no doubt, is that Plato, like Aristophanes, exhibited some of his plays in the names of other persons, but was naturally anxious to claim the merit of them for himself when they had succeeded, and that he did so in the Parabasis of the Peisander, as Aristophanes does in the Parabasis of the Clouds (See the full discussion of this subject under Philonides). The form in which the article Arkadas mimoumenos is given by Arsenius (Violet.), completely confirms this interpretation.
Plato ranked among the very best poets of the Old Comedy. From the expressions of the grammarians, and from the large number of fragments which are preserved, it is evident that his plays were only second in popularity to those of Aristophanes. Suidas and other grammarians speak of him as lampros ton charaktera. Purity of language, refined sharpness of wit, and a combination of the vigour of the Old Comedy with the greater elegance of the Middle and the New, were his chief characteristics. Though many of his plays had no political reference at all, yet it is evident that he kept up to the spirit of the Old Comedy in his attacks on the corruptions and corrupt persons of his age; for he is charged by Dio Chrysostom with vituperation (Orat. xxxiii.), a curious charge truly to bring against a professed satirist ! Among the chief objects of his attacks were the demagogues Cleon, Hyperbolus, Cleophon, and Agyrrhius, the dithyrambic poet Cinesias, the general Leagrus, and the orators Cephalus and Archinus; for, like Aristophanes, he esteemed the art of rhetoric one of the worst sources of mischief to the commonwealth.
The mutual attacks of Plato and Aristophanes must be taken as a proof of the real respect which they felt for each other's talents. As an example of one of these attacks, Plato, like Eupolis, east great ridicule upon Aristophanel's colossal image of Peace (Schol. Plat.).
Plato seems to have been one of the most diligent of the old comic poets. The number of his dramas is stated at 28 by the anonymous writer on Comedy, and by Suidas, who, however, proceeds to enumerate 30 titles. Of these, the Lakones and Mammaknthss were only editions of the same play, which reduces the number to 29. There is, however, one to be added, which is not mentioned by Suidas, the Amphiareos. The following is the list of Suidas, as corrected by Meineke: Adonis, Hai aph' hieron, Amphiareos, Grupes, Daidalos, Ellas e Nesoi, Heortai, Europe, Zeus kakoumenos, Io, Kleophon, Laios, Lakones e Poietai (second edition, Mammakuthos), Meneleos, Metoikoi, Murmekes (of this there are no fragments). Nikai, Nux makra, Xantriai e Kerkopes, Paidarion, Peisandros, Perialges, Poietes, Presbeis, Skeuai, Sophistai, Summachia, Surphax, Huperbolos, Phaon.
The followingl dates of his plays are known: the Cleophon gained the third prize in Ol. 93. 4, B. C. 405, when Aristophanes was first with the Frogs, and Phrynichus second with the Muses; the Phaon was exhibited in Ol. 97. 2, B. C. 391 (Schol. in Arlistoph. Plut. 179); the Peisauder about Ol. 89, B. C. 423; the Perialges a little later; the Hyperbolus about Ol. 91, B. C. 415; the Presbeis about Ol. 97, B. C. 392. The Lains seems to have been one of the latest of his plays.
It has been already stated that some grammarians assign Plato to the Middle Comedy; and it is evident that several of the above titles belong to that species. Some even mention Plato as a poet of the New Comedy (Atlen. iii., vii.). Hence a few modern scholars have supposed a second Plato, a poet of the New Comedy, who lived after Epicuruis. But Diogenes Laertius only mentions one comic poet of the name, and there is no good evidence that there was any other. The ancient grammarians also frequently make a confusion, in their references, between Plato, the comlic poet, and Plato the philosopher.
(Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec. vol. i. pp. 160--196, vol. ii. pp 615--697; Editio Minor, 1847, 1 vol. in 2 pts. 8vo., pp. 357--401 ; Bergk, Comment. de Reliq. Com. Alt. Ant. lib. ii. c. 6, pp. 381, &c.; C. G. Cobet, Observations Crilicae in Platonis Comici Reliquias, Amst. 1840, 8vo.)
Philetaerus (Philetairos), an Athenian comic poet of the Middle Comedy, is said by Athenaeus to have been contemporary with Hyperides and Diopeithes, the latter perhaps the same person as the father of the poet Menander (Ath. vii., xiii.). According to Dicaearchus Philetaerus was the third son of Aristophanes, but others maintained that it was Nicostratus (see the Greek lives of Aristophanes, and Suid. s. vv. Aristophanes, Philetairos). He wrote twenty-one plays, according to Suidas, from whom and from Athenaeus the following titles are obtained : Asklepios, Atalante, Achilleus, Kephalos, Korinthiastes, Kunegis, Lampadephos, Tereus, Philaulos; to which must be added the menes, quoted in a MS. grammatical work. There are also a few doubtful titles, namely: Adoniazousai, which is the title of a play by Philippides; Antullos and onopion, which are also ascribed to Nicostratus; and Meleagros, which is perhaps the same as the Atalante. The fragments of Philetaerus show that many of his plays referred to courtezans.
Philiscus (Philiskos). An Athenian comic poet of the Middle Comedy, of whom little
is known. Suidas simply mentions him as a comic poet, and gives the following
titles of his plays: Adonis, Dios gonai, Themistokles, Olumpos, Panos gonai, Hermou
kai Aphrodites gonai, Artemidos kai Apollonos. These mythological titles sufficiently
prove that Philiscus belonged to the Middle Comedy. The nativities of the gods,
to which most of them relate, formed a very favourite class of subjects with the
poets of the Middle Comedy. Eudocia omits the title Hermou kai Aphrodites gonai,
and Lobeck has pointed out the difficulty of seeing how the nativities of Hermes
and Aphrodite could be connected in one drama (Aglaoph.); a difficulty which Meineke
meets by supposing that we ought to read Hermou gonai, Aphrodites gonai, as two
distinct titles (Hist. Crit. pp. 281, 282). The Themistocles is, almost without
doubt, wrongly ascribed by Suidas to the comie poet Philiscus, instead of the
tragic poet of the same name. Another play is cited by Stobaeus (Serm. lxxiii.
53), namely the Philarguroi, or, as Meineke thinks it ought to be, Philarguros.
Philiscus must have flourished about B. C. 400, or a little later, as his portrait was painted by Parrhasius, in a picture which Pliny thus describes (H. N. xxxv. 10. s. 36.5): "et Philiscum, et Liberum patrem adstante Virtute," from which it seems that the picture was a group, representing the poet supported by the patron deity of his art, and by a personified representation of Arete, to intimate tile excellence he had attained in it. Naeke has clearly shown that this statement can only refer to Philiscus the comic poet, and not to any other of the known persons of the same name (Sched. Crit. p. 26; Opusc. vol. i. p. 42).
There are very few fragments of Philiscus preserved. Stobaeus quotes two verses from the Philarguroi, and elsewhere (xxix. 40), two from an unknown play. Another verse from an unknown play is quoted by Dicaearchus; and another is preserved in the Palatine Anthology (xi. 441).
Philyllius (Philullios), an Athenian comic poet, contemporary with Diocles and Sannyrio (Suid. s. v. Diokles). He belongs to the latter part of the Old Comedy, and the beginning of the Middle; for, on the one hand, he seems to have attained to some distinction before the time when the Ecclesiazusae of Aristophanes was acted, B. C. 392 (Schol. ad Aristoph. Plut. 1195), and, on the other, nearly all the titles of his plays belong evidently to the Middle Comedy. He is said to have introduced some scenic innovations, such as bringing lighted torches on the stage (Schol. Plut. l. c. Ath. xv. 700, e.). With regard to his language, Meineke mentions a few words and phrases, which are not pure Attic. His name is corrupted by the Greek lexicographers and others into Phillulios, Philaios, Philolaos, Philludeos. and other forms. The following titles of his plays are given by Suidas and Eudocia, and in the following order: Aigeus, Auge, Anteia (hetairas onoma), Dodekate, Herakles, Pluntria e Nausikaa, Polis (better Poleis. Phreoruchus, Atalante, Helene, where the last two titles look suspicious, as being out of the alphabetical order.
Poliochus (Poliochos), an Athenian comic poet, of uncertain age, of whom two fragments only occur in Athenaeus (vii. p. 313, c. ii. p. 60, c.), the one from his Korinthiastes, and the other from a play, of which the title is not mentioned.
Polyzetus. An Athenian comic poet of the Old Comedy, as some lines upon Theramenes, from his Demotundareos, clearly show (Phot. and Suid. s. v. trion kakon); although the greater number of the titles of his plays refer to the nativities of the gods, a class of subjects which belongs to the Middle Comedy. He must therefore be assigned to the last period of the Old Comedy and the beginning of the Middle; as is further proved by an allusion, in the play already quoted, to Hyperbolus, who died in B. C. 411. (Schol. ad Lucian. Tim. 30.) This play, the Demotundareos, is conjectured by Kuhn, with much inigenuity, to have been a sort of parody on the recal of Tyndarus to life, applying the fable to the resuscitation of the Atheinian people. The period, at which such a subject is likely to have been chosen, would be the year B. C. 402, after the overthrow of the Thirty Tyrants. The titles of his plays, as mentioned by Suidas, are, Niptra, Demotundareos, Dionusou gonai, Mouson gonai, Aphrodites gonai, to which Eudocia adds Areos gonai.
Sannyrion (Sannurion), an Athenian comic poet, belonging to the latter years of
the Old Comedy, and the beginning of the Middle. He was contemporary with Diocles
and Philyllius (Suid. s. v. Diokles). Since he ridiculed the pronunciation of
Hegelochus, the actor of the Orestes of Euripides, which was brought out in B.
C. 408, he must have been exhibiting comedies soon after that year (Schol. ad
Eurip. Orest. 279; Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran. 305). On the other hand, if the comedy
entitled Io, which is mentioned in the didascalic monument, be the Io of Sannyrion,
his age would be brought down to S. C. 374.
We know nothing of his personal history, except that his excessive leanness was ridiculed by Strattis in his Cinesias and Psychastae (Pollux, x. 189; Ath. xii.); and also by Aristophanes in the Gerytades, where he and Meletus and Cinesias are chosen as ambassadors from the poets to the shades below, because, being shades themselves, they were frequent visitants of that region (haidophoitai, Ath.). It is a proof of how lightly and good-humouredly such jests were thrown about by the comic poets, that Sannyrion himself ridiculed Meletus on precisely the same ground in his Telos, calling him ton apo Lenaiou nekron (Ath.). He also returned the compliment to Aristophanes, by ridiculing him for spending his life in working for others; referring doubtless to his habit of bringing out his comedies in other persons' names (Schol. ad Plat.).
The following are mentioned as his dramas by Suidas: Telos, Danae, Io, Psuchastai; but the reference which Suidas proceeds to make to Athenaeus, as his authority, proves that he has got the last title by a careless reading of the passage above quoted, in which Athenaeus says that Sannyrion was ridiculed in the Psychastae of Strattis. Eudocia omits the Danae, and adds the Ino and Sardanapallos, of which there is no other mention made. A few scattered lines are preserved from the Telos, and a fragment of five lines from the Danae, in which he ridicules, as Aristophanes also does in the Frogs (305), Hegelochus's pronunciation of the word galen, in a line of the Orestes of Euripides (Schol. ad Eurip. et Aristoph. ll. cc.). There are a few words from the Io in Athenaeus (vi.). The Danae and Io evidently belong, in subject, to the Middle Comedy, although, from the circumstance just mentioned, the date of the former cannot be placed much lower than B. C. 407.
Simylus (Simulos). An Athenian comic poet of the middle comedy, who is known by
an extant inscription to have exhibited a play in the archonship of Diotimus,
B. C. 354. Of the title of the play in the inscription, only the last three letters,
siai, remain; Bockh conjectures that it was Ephesiai. His Megarike is cited by
Pollux (x. 42), and there are a few other references to him.
Sotades. An Athenian comic poet of the Middle Comedy (Suid. s. v.), of whose plays we have the two following titles, Enkleiomenai or Enkleiomenoi (Ath. vii.; Antiatt.), and Paralutroumenos (Ath. ix.) Both these are erroneously ascribed by Suidas and Eudocia to the more celebrated poet of Maroneia, with whom, indeed, the comic poet was so frequently confounded, even in ancient times, that Athenaeus (vii.) expressly distinguishes them from one another.
Straton. An Athenian comic poet of the Middle Comedy, according to Suidas, who
mentions his play entitled Phoinix, which is, no doubt, the same as the Phoinitider,
from which a considerable fragment is quoted by Athenaeus (ix). From the frequency
with which the name of the comic poet Strattis occurs corrupted into Straton,
some distinguished scholars have supposed that the fragment in Athenaeus should
be ascribed to Strattis, and that the comic poet Straton owes his existence solely
to the errors of transcribers, followed by Suidas. It has, however, been shown
by Meineke, from the internal evidence of the fragment itself, that it could hardly
have been written by Strattis, or by any other poet of the Old Comedy; and therefore
there is no reason to reject the testimony of Suidas, although it may be doubted
whether he is strictly correct in ascribing Straton to the Middle Comedy. If the
Philetas mentioned in the fragment be, as seems very probable, the celebrated
poet of Cos, Straton ought rather to be referred to the New than to the Middle
Comedy. The first three verses of the fragment and the beginning of the fourth
were appropriated by Philemon (Ath. xiv.).
Another comic poet of this name is mentioned by Plutarch (Symp. v. 1), as a contemporary.
Strattis (or Stratis, but the former is the more correct orthography), an Athenian
comic poet of the Old Comedy, flourished, according to Suidas, a little later
than Callias. He must therefore have begun to exhibit about B. C. 412. He was
in part contemporary with Sannyrion and Philyllius, both of whom are attacked
in extant quotations from his works (Schol. Aristoph. Plut. 1195; Ath. xii.; Poll.
x. 189). The drama of Strattis in which Philyllius was attacked was the Potamioi,
which, the Scholiast says, was brought out before the Ecclesiazusae of Aristophanes,
and therefore not later than B. C. 394 or 393. Again, in his Anthroporrhaistes
he attacked Hegelochus, the actor of the Orestes of Euripides; so that this play
must have been brought out later than B. C. 408. the year in which the Orestes
was exhibited (Schol. Eurip. Orest. 278). Strattis was still exhibiting at the
end of the 99th Olympiad, B. C. 380, for we cannot well refer to an earlier period
his attack on Isocrates on account of his fondness for Lagisca when he was far
advanced in years (Ath. xiii.; Harpocr. s. v. Lagiska). We have little opportunity
of forming a judgment on the poetical character of Strattis. His intense admiration
of the Orestes of Euripides does not say much for his taste (Schol. Eurip. Orest.
278). From the epithet phortikon, applied to one of his plays, it may be inferred
that he indulged in that low and insipid buffoonery, with which Aristophanes frequently
charges his rivals (Hesych. s. v. kolekanoi; comp. Aristoph. Nub. 524, Vesp. 66
; Aristot. Eth. Nicom. iv. 8; Plut. Op. Mor.).
According to an anonymous writer on Comedy, Strattis composed sixteen dramas. Suidas mentions the following titles of his plays: Anthroporestes, or, as it should be, Anthroporrhaistes, Atalante, Agathoi etoi Arguriou aphanismor, Iphigeron, Kallipides, Kinesias, Limnomedon, Makedones, Medeia, Troiilor, Phoinissai, Philoktetes, Chrusippos, pausanias, psuchastai, in addition to which, four titles are mentioned by other writers, namely, Zopuros perikaiomenos, Murmidoner, potamioi, putisos. His name sometimes appears in the corrupted form Straton, and some scholars have supposed the comic poets Strattis and Straton to be one and the same person; but this opinion is undoubtedly erroneous.
Telecleides (Telekleides), a distinguished Athenian comic poet of the Old Comedy, flourished about the same time as Crates and Cratinus, and a little earlier than Aristophanes, with whom, however, he may have been partly contemporary, and like whom he was an earnest advocate of peace, and a great admirer of the ancient manners of the age of Themistocles. Six plays are attributed to him (Anon. de Com.), perhaps including the one which the ancient critics considered spurious (Phryn. Ed. Att.); for there are only five titles extant, Amphiktuones, Apseudeis, Hesiodoi, Prutaneis, Sterrhoi, Of these plays we possess some interesting fragments, especially those in which he attacks Pericles and extols Nicias (Plut. Per. 3, 16, Nic. 4). Meineke conjectures that the second of these fragments was written soon after the ostracism of Thucydides and the complete establishment of the power of Pericles, in Ol. 83. 4, B. C. 444. Bergk thinks that the anonymous quotation in Plutarch (Per. 7), referring to the subjugation of Euboea by Pericles, after it had revolted (B. C. 445), ought to be assigned to Telecleides, as well as a fragment in Herodian respecting Aegina, which may very probably refer to the expulsion of the Aeginetans in B. C. 431 (Thuc. ii. 27). There are several other chronological allusions in the extant fragments, which are fully discussed by Meineke. (Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec.)
Theognetus. An Athenian comic poet of the New Comedy, whose plays, entitled Phasma e Philargnros, Philodespotos, and Kentauros, are mentioned by Suidas, on the authority of Athenaeus. In Athenaeus himself we find no mention of the Kentauros, but we have a fragment of ten lines from the Philodespotos (Ath. xiv), and one of four lines from the Phasma e Philarguros. (Ath. iii, xv) There is some reason to suppose that Plautus borrowed his Mostellaria from the latter play.
Theophilus (Theogilos). An Athenian comic poet, most probably of the Middle Comedy,
as Meineke shows from the extant titles and fragments of his plays. In a passage
of Poilux (ix. 15), in which he is represented as one of the poets of the New
Comedy, most of the MSS. have the name of Diphilus, instead of Theophilus. The
following titles of his plays are preserved by Athenaeus (passim) and Suidas,
except the first, which is quoted by the Scholiast to Dionysius Thrax: Apodemoi,
Boiotia, Epidaurios, Iatros, Kigaroidos (Meineke retracts the doubt which he had
raised as to this being a true title of a drama ), Neoptolemos, Pankratiastes,
Theopompus (Theopompos). An Athenian comic poet, of the Old, and also of the Middle Comedy, was the son of Theodectes or Theodorus, or Tisamenus. (Suid. s. v.), According to Suidas, he was contemporary with Aristophanes; but the fragments and titles of his plays give evidence that he wrote during the latest period of the Old Comedy, and during the Middle Comedy, as late as B. C. 380. Of his personal history we have no information, except a story, of a fabulous appearance, about his being cured of a disease by Aesculapius, which Suidas copies from Aelian, with a description of a piece of statuary in Parian marble, which was made in commemoration of the cure, and which represented Theopompus lying on a couch, by the side of which the god stood, handing medicine to the poet; there was also a boy standing by the couch. The number of dramas exhibited by Theopompus is differently stated at seventeen (Anon. de Com.) and twenty-four (Suid., Eudoc.). We possess twenty titles, namely, Admetos, Althaia, Aphrodisia, batule, Eirene, Heduchares, Theseus, Kallaischros, Kapelides, Medos, Nemea, Odusseus, Paides, Pamphile, Pantaleon, Penelope, Seirenes, Stratiotides, Tisamenos, Phineus. Three other plays, besides those which are merely variations of the above titles, are erroneously ascribed to Theopompus, namely, Epopoioi, Poleis, Trikaranos. The extant fragments of Theopompus contain examples of the declining purity of the Attic dialect.
Timocles. A distinguished Athenian comic poet of the Middle Comedy, who lived
at a period when the revival of political energy, in consequence of the encroachments
of Philip, restored to the Middle Comedy much of the vigour and real aim of the
Old, is conspicuous for the freedom with which he discussed public men and measures,
as well as for the number of his dramas, and the purity of his style, in which
scarcely any departures from the best standards of Attic diction can be detected.
His time is indicated by several allusions in his plays, especially to the Attic
orators and statesmen. Like Antiphanes, he made sarcastic allusions to the vehement
spirit and rhetorical boldness of Demosthenes, whom he also attacked, with Hyperides,
and the other orators who had received money from Harpalus. (Pseudo-Plut. Vit.
X. Orat.; Timoc. Heroes, ap. Ath. vi., Delus or Delius, ap. Ath. viii.). Hence
the period during which he flourished appears to have extended from about the
middle of the fourth century B. C. till after B. C. 324, so that at the beginning
of his career he was in part contemporary with Antiphanes, and at the end of it,
with Menander. There is also an allusion to one of his plays, the Icarii, in a
fragment of Alexis (Ath. iii.). From these statements it is clear that he is rightly
referred to the Middle Comedy, although Pollux (x. 154) reckons him among the
poets of the New (Tois Weoterois), perhaps on account of the late period down
to which he flourished. He is the latest of the poets of the Middle Comedy, excepting
Xenarchus and Theophilus.
Suidas, who has here fallen into his frequent error of making two persons out of one, assigns to Timocles, in his two articles upon him, nineteen dramas, on the authority of Athenaeus, in whose work are also found some titles not mentioned by Suidas, and a few more are gathered from other sources. The list, when completed and corrected, stands thus: Aiguptioi, Balaneion, Daktulios, Delos or perhaps Delios, demosaturoi, DioWusiazousai, Dionusos, Drakontion, Epistolai, Epichairekakos, Heroes ikarioi saturoi, Kaunioi, kentauros e Dexamenos, Konisalos, Aethe, Marathonioi, Neaira, Orestautokleides, Polupragmon, Pontikos, Porphupa (but perhaps this belongs to Xenarchus), Puktes, Sappho, Sunepithoi (doubtful), Philodikastes, Pseudoleistai. Some of these titles involve important questions, which are fully discussed by Meineke.
Timotheus (Timotheos). An Athenian comic poet of the Middle Comedy, of whose plays
we have the following titles, Kunarion (Ath. vi.; Suid.), Puktes, Parakatatheke,
and Metaballomenos or Metapheromenos. The only fragments of his dramas extant
are the three lines quoted by Athenaeus from the first of the above plays, and
three other lines, without the title of the comedy to which they belong. Three
of the above titles are identical with those of plays ascribed to other poets;
namely, there is a puktes by Timocles, a Parakatatheke by Aristophon, Sopater,
Sophilus, and Timostratus, and a Metapheromenos by Poseidippus. The Kuklops, which
Harless adds to the list of the comedies of Timotheus, is evidently the title
of a work of the celebrated dithyrambic poet Timotheus.
Xenarchus. An Athenian comic poet of the Middle Comedy, who was contemporary with Timocles, and lived as late as the time of Alexander the Great. The following titles of his plays have been preserved, with some considerable fragments : Boutalion, Didumoi, Pentathlos, Porphura, Priapos, Skuthai, Stratiotes, Hupnos. (Suid. s. v. ; Ath. passim.) Fabricius and others have confounded him with the mimographer, who lived sixty or seventy years earlier, and wrote in a different dialect.
A Greek poet of Athens; one of the less important writers of the Old Attic Comedy, and a frequent butt of the other comic poets. In B.C. 405, however, his Musae took the second prize after Aristophanes' Frogs. We have only fragments of about ten plays.
Poseidippus or Posidippus (Poseidippos, Posidippos, both forms are found in MSS;
the inscription on the statue in the Vatican gives the former).
1. An Athenian comic poet of the New Comedy, was the son of Cyniscus, and a native of Cassandreia in Macedonia. He is one of the six who are mentioned by the anonymous writer on Comedy as the most celebrated poets of the New Comedy. In time, he was the last, not only of these six, but of all the poets of the New Comedy. He began to exhibit dramas in the third year after the death of Menander, that is, in Ol. 122. 3, B. C. 289, so that his time falls just at the era in Greek literary history which is marked by the accession of Ptolemy Philadelphus (Suid. s. v.).
Of the events of the poet's life nothing is known; but his portrait is preserved to us in the beautiful sitting statue in the Vatican, which, with the accompanying statue of Menander, is esteemed by Winckelmann and others as among the finest works of Greek sculpture which have come down to us.
Athenaeus (xiv.) mentions a letter of the comic poet and grammarian, Lynceus of Samos, to Poseidippus.
In his language, Meineke has detected some new words, and old words in new senses, totally unknown to the best Attic writers.
According to Suidas, he wrote forty plays, of which the following eighteen titles are preserved: Anablepon, Apokleiomene, Galates, Demotai, Hermaphroditos, Epistathmos, Ephesia, Kodon, Dokrides, Metapheromenoi, Murmex, Homoioi, Paidion, Pornodoskos, Suntrophoi, Philosophoi, Philopator, Choreuousai.. The extant fragments of these plays are not sufficient to enable us to form an accurate judgment of the poet's style; but it seems, from the titles, that some of his plays were of a licentious character. Gellius (ii. 23) mentions him among the Greek comedians who were imitated by the Latin poets.
2. An epigrammatic poet, who was probably a different person from the comic poet, since he is mentioned with the appellation ho epigrammatographos (Schol. in Apoll. Rhod. i. 1289). He seems, however, to have lived about the same time as the comic poet, since Zeno and Cleanthes, who were contemporary with the latter, are mentioned in one of his epigrams (No. 11), and another epigram (No. 21) is upon the temple which Ptolemy Philadelphus erected in honour of his sister and wife Arsinoe. He is several times referred to by Athenaeus, Stephanus Byzantinus, and the grammarians. His epigrams formed a part of the Garland of Meleager, who appears to mention him as a Sicilian (Prooem. 45, 46); and twenty-two of them are preserved in the Greek Anthology; but some of these are also ascribed to Asclepiades and Callimachus. One of his epigrams, that on the statue of Opportunity by Lysippus (No. 13), is imitated by Ausonius (Epig. 12).
Athenaeus (xiii.) quotes the Aithiopia of Poseidippus, and elsewhere his Asopia, which seem to have been epic poems, and which Schweighauser is probably right in referring to the author of the epigrams.
3. An historian, who wrote a work respecting Cnidus, which contained several particulars respecting the Venus of Praxiteles. (Clem. Alex. Protrept.; Arnob. vi. 13.) He is also cited by Tzetzes, who concludes his quotation with an epigram by Poseidippus (Chil. vii. 144). From this and other circumstances it appears very probable that this historian was the same person as the epigrammatist.
KIFISSIA (Ancient demos) KIFISSIA
, , 341 - 293
Menander. The chief representative of the New Comedy. He was born in B.C. 342, at Athens, of a distinguished and wealthy family, received a careful education, and led a comfortable and luxurious life, partly at Athens, and partly at his estate in the Piraeus, the harbour of Athens, enjoying the intimate friendship of his contemporary and the friend of his youth, Epicurus, of Theophrastus, and of Demetrius Phalereus. He declined an invitation from King Ptolemy I. of Egypt, so as not to have his comfort disturbed. At the height of his poetic productiveness he was drowned while bathing in the Piraeus, at the age of fifty-two. His uncle Alexis had given him some preparatory training in dramatic composition. As early as 322 he made his first appearance as an author. He wrote above a hundred pieces, and worked with the greatest facility; but he only obtained the first prize for eight comedies, in the competition with his popular rival Philemon. The admiration accorded him by posterity was all the greater: there was only one opinion about the excellence of his work. His principal merits were remarkable inventiveness, skilful arrangement of plots, life-like painting of character, a clever and refined wit, elegant and graceful language, and a copious supply of maxims based on a profound knowledge of the world. These last were collected in regular anthologies, and form the bulk of the extant fragments. Unfortunately not one of his plays has survived, although they were much read down to a late date. However, apart from about seventy-three titles, and numerous fragments (some of considerable length), we have transcripts of his comedies (in which, of course, the delicate beauties of the original are lost), in a number of Latin plays by Plautus (Bacchides, Stichus, Poenulus) and Terence (Andria, Eunuchus, Heauton Timorumenos, Adelphi). Lucian also, in his Conversations of Hetaerae, and Alciphron in his epistles, have made frequent use of Menander. Menander's most popular play seems to have been the Thais, a line of which is quoted by St. Paul (1 Cor. xv. 33). The fragments of Menander were printed in the collections of Meineke (1841) and Kock (1880).
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Menander, the leading writer of New Comedy, was born in 342/1 B.C. in Athens. He was a pupil of the philosopher Theophrastus, and a friend of Epicurus and Demetrius of Phalerum. He died in 293/2 according to the tradition he was drowned in the sea. He wrote more than 100 comedies, three of which are extant whole, some others in fragments. Dominating in his work is the city folk of Athens, while the comic element arises mainly from coincidence, mis- understanding, and change of fortune. The Roman poets Terence and Plautus adapted and transcribed some his plays.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from Cactus Editions URL below
Menander (Menandros), of Athens, the most distinguished poet of the New Comedy,
was the son of Diopeithes and Hegesistrate, and flourished in the time of the
successors of Alexander. He was born B. C. 342-1, which was also the birth-year
of Epicurus; only the birth of Menander was probably in the former half of the
year, and therefore in B. C. 342, while that of Epicurus was in the latter half,
B. C. 341 (Suid. s. v.). Strabo also (xiv. p. 526) speaks of Menander and Epicurus
as sunephebous. His father, Diopeithes, commanded the Athenian forces on the Hellespont
in B. C. 342-341, the year of Menander's birth, and was defended by Demosthenes
in his oration peri ton Chersoneso (Anon. de Com.). On this fact the grammarians
blunder with their usual felicity, not only making Menander a friend of Demosthenes,
which as a boy he may have been, but representing him as inducing Demosthenes
to defend his father, in B. C. 341, when he himself was just born, and again placing
him among the dicasts on the trial of Ctesiphon, in B. C. 330, when he was in
his twelfth year. Alexis, the comic poet, was the uncle of Menander, on the father's
side (Suid. s. v. Alexis); and we may naturally suppose, with one of the ancient
grammarians (Anon. de Com.), that the young Menander derived from his uncle his
taste for the comic drama, and was instructed by him in its rules of composition.
His character must have been greatly influenced and formed by his intimacy with
Theophrastus and Epicurus (Alciph. Epist. ii. 4), of whom the former was his teacher
(Diog. Laert. v. 36), and the latter his intimate friend. That his tastes and
sympathies were altogether with the philosophy of Epicurus is proved, among numerous
other indications, by his epigram on "Epicurus and Themistocles."
Chaire, Neokleida didumon genos, on ho men humon
Patrida doulosunas rhusath, ho d aphrosunas.
From Theophrastus, on the other hand, he must have derived much of that skill in the discrimination of character which we so much admire in the Charakteres of the philosopher, and which formed the great charm of the comedies of Menander. His master's attention to external elegance and comfort he not only imitated, but, as was natural in a man of an elegant person, a joyous spirit, and a serene and easy temper, he carried it to the extreme of luxury and effeminacy. Phaedrus (v. 1. 11, 12) describes him, when paying his court to Demetrius Phalereus, thus:
"Unguento delibutus, vestitu adfluens, Veniebat gressu delicato et languido."
His personal beauty is mentioned by the anonymous writer on comedy (l. c.), though, according to Suidas, his vision was somewhat disturbed, strabos tas opseis, oxus de ton noun. He is represented in works of sculpture which still exist, and of one of which Schlegel gives the following description: " In the excellent portrait-statues of two of the most famous comedians, Menander and Posidippus (to be found in the Vatican), the physiognomy of the Greek New Comedy seems to me to be almost visibly and personally expressed. They are seated in arm chairs, clad with extreme simplicity, and with a roll in the hand, with that ease and careless self-possession which always marks the conscious superiority of the master in that maturity of years which befits the calm and impartial observation which comedy requires, but sound and active, and free from all symptoms of decay; we may discern in them that hale and pithy vigour of body which bears witness to an equally vigorous constitution of mind and temper; no lofty enthusiasm, but no folly or extravagance; on the contrary, the earnestness of wisdom dwells in those brows, wrinkled not with care, but with the exercise of thought, while, in the searching eye, and in the mouth, ready for a smile, there is a light irony which cannot be mistaken" (Dramatic Lectures, vii). The moral character of Menander is defended by Meineke, with tolerable success, against the aspersions of Suidas, Alciphron, and others (Menand. Reliq.). Thus much is certain, that his comedies contain nothing offensive, at least to the taste of his own and the following ages, none of the purest, it must be admitted, as they were frequently acted at private banquets (Plut. de Fals. Pud., Sympos. viii.; Comp. Arist. et Men.). Whether their being eagerly read by the youth of both sexes, on account of the love scenes in them, is any confirmation of their innocence, may at least be doubted (Ovid. Trist. ii. 370).
Of the actual events of Menander's life we know but little. He enjoyed the friendship of Demetrius Phalereus, whose attention was first drawn to him by admiration of his works (Phaedrus, l. c.). This intimacy was attended, however, with danger as well as honour, for when Demetrius Phalereus was expelled from Athens by Demetrius Poliorcetes (B. C. 307), Menander became a mark for the sycophants, and would have been put to death but for the intercession of Telesphorus, the son-in-law of Demetrius (Diog. Laert. v. 80). The first Greek king of Egypt, Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, was also one of his admirers; and he invited the poet to his court at Alexandria; but Menander seems to have declined the proffered honour (Plin. H. N. vii. 29. s. 31; Alciphr. Epist. ii. 3, 4). Suidas mentions some letters to Ptolemy as among the works of Menander.
The time of his death is differently stated. The same inscription, which gives the date of his birth, adds that he died at the age of fifty-two years, in the archonship of Philippus, in the 32nd year of Ptolemy Soter. Clinton shows that these statements refer to the year B. C. 292-1; but, to make up the fifty-two years, we must reckon in both extremes, 342 and 291. The date is confirmed by Eusebius (Chron.); by the anonymous writer on comedy (p. xii.), who adds that Menander died at Athens; by Apollodorus (ap. Aul. Gell. xvii. 4); and by Aulus Gellius (xvii. 21). Respecting the manner of his death, all that we know is that an old commentator on Ovid applies the line (Ibis, 593)
"Comicus ut medius periit dum nabat in undis"
to Menander, and tells us that he was drowned while swimming in the harbour of Peiraeeus; and we learn from Alciphron (Epist. ii. 4) that Menander had an estate at Peiraeeus. He was buried by the road leading out of Peiraeeus towards Athens (Paus. i. 2.2).
Notwithstanding Menander's fame as a poet, his public dramatic career, during his lifetime, was not eminently successful; for, though he composed upwards of a hundred comedies, he only gained the prize eight times. (Aul. Gell. xvii. 4; comp. Martial. v. 10), His preference for elegant exhibitions of character above coarse jesting may have been the reason why he was not so great a favourite with the common people as his principal rival, Philemon, who is said, moreover, to have used unfair means of gaining popularity (Gell. l. c.).
Menander appears to have borne the popular neglect very lightly, in the consciousness of his superiority; and once, when he happened to meet Philemon, he is said to have asked him, "Pray, Philemon, do not you blush when you gain a victory over me?" (Gell. l. c.; comp. Athen. xiii.; Alciphr. Epist. ii. 3). The Athenians erected his statue in the theatre, but this was an honour too often conferred upon very indifferent poets to be of much value: indeed, according to Pausanias, he was the only distinguished comic poet of all whose statues had a place there (Paus. i. 21.1; Dion Chrysost. Or. xxxi.).
The neglect of Menander's contemporaries has been amply compensated by his posthumous fame. His comedies retained their place on the stage down to the time of Plutarch (Comp. Men. et Arist.), and the unanimous consent of antiquity placed him at the head of the New Comedy, and on an equality with the great masters of the various kinds of poetry. The grammarian Aristophanes assigned him the second place among all writers, after Homer alone. To the same grammarian is ascribed the happy saying, O Menandre, kai Bie, poteros ar humon proteron emimesato (or, according to Scaliger's correction, poteron apemimesato). Among the Romans, besides the fact that their comedy was founded chiefly on the plays of Menander, we have the celebrated phrase of Julius Caesar, who addresses Terence as dimidiate Menander (Donat. Vit. Terent.). Quintilian's high eulogy of him is well known (x. 1).
The imitations of Menander are at once a proof of his reputation and an aid in appreciating his poetic character. Among the Greeks, Alciphron and Lucian were, in various degrees, indebted to his comedies. (Meineke, p. xxxv.) Among the Romans, his chief imitators were Caecilius, Afranius, and Terentius. How much Caecilius was indebted to him may be conjectured from the titles of his plays, of which there are very few that are not taken from Menander. Respecting Afranius we have the well-known line of Horace (Epist. ii. 1. 57):
"Dicitur Afrani toga convenisse Menandro."
Plautus was an exception, as we learn from the next line of Horace:
"Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi Dicitur;"
and his extant plays sufficiently show that the ruder energy of the old Doric comedy was far more congenial to him than the polished sententiousness of Menander, whom, therefore, he only followed in a few instances, one of the most striking of which is in the Cistellaria (i. 1. 91). With respect to Terence, the oft-repeated statement, that he was simply a translator of Meander, is an injustice to the latter. That Terence was indebted to him for all his ideas and very many of his lines, is true enough; but that from any one play of Terence we can form a fair notion of the corresponding play of Menander, is disproved by the confession of Terence himself (Prolog. in Andr). that he compressed two of Menander's plays into one; while the coolness with which he defends and even boasts of the exploit, shows how little we can trust him as our guide to the poetical genius of Menander. The one merit of Terence was felicity of expression; he had not the power of invention to fill up the gaps left by the omissions necessary in adapting a Greek play for a Roman audience, and therefore he drew again upon the rich resources of his original. It was this mixing up of different plays that his contemporaries condemned when they said, "Contaminari non decere fabulas," and that Caesar pointed to by the phrase O dimidiate Menander. In the epigram in which that phrase occurs, Caesar expressly intimates that the spirit of the Greek original had greatly evaporated in Terence:
"Tu quoque, tu in summis, o dimidiate Menander,
Poneris, et merito, puri sermonis amator.
Lenibus atque utinam scriptis adjuncta foret vis;
Comica ut aequato virtus polleret honore
Cum Graecis, neque in hac despectus parte jaceres.
Unum hoc maceror et doleo tibi deesse, Terenti."
The following epigram is worth quoting by the side of Caesar's
"Tu quoque, qui solus tecto sermone, Terenti,
Conversum expressumque Latina voce Menandrum
In medio populi sedatis vocibus effers."
Still, the comedies of Terence are a valuable contribution to our knowledge of Menander, especially considering the scantiness of the extant fragments.
Meineke well remarks that the quality which Caesar missed in Terence was what the Greeks call to pathetikon, which Menander had with admirable art united with toi ethikoi. And thus the poetry of Menander is described as dia pollon agomene pathon kai ethon by Plutarch, in his Comparison of Menander and Aristophanes, which is the most valuable of the ancient testimonies concerning our poet. The style of his language is described by an old grammarian as lexis lelumene kai hipokoitike, be contrasted with another writer's description of the diction of Philemon, as sunertemenen kai oion esphalismenen tois sundesmois.
To criticise the poetry of Menander is to describe the whole spirit and genius of the New Comedy, of which his plays may be safely taken as the normal representatives. This has been done with a most masterly hand by Schlegel, in his seventh lecture, from which the following passage is quoted: "The New Comedy, in a certain point of view, may indeed be described as the Old Comedy tamed down: but, in speaking of works of genius, tameness does not usually pass for praise. The loss incurred in the interdict laid upon the old, unrestricted freedom of mirth, the newer comedians sought to compensate by throwing in a touch of earnestness borrowed from tragedy, as well in the form of representation, and the connection of the whole, as in the impressions, which they aimed at producing. We have seen how tragic poetry, in its last epoch, lowered its tone from its ideal elevation, and came nearer to common reality, both in the characters and in the tone of the dialogue, but especially as it aimed at conveying useful instruction on the proper conduct of civil and domestic life, in all their. several emergencies. This turn towards utility Aristophanes has ironically commended in Euripides (Ran. 971-991). Euripides was the forerunner of the New Comedy; the poets of this species admired him especially, and acknowledged him for their master. Nay, so great is this affinity of tone and spirit, between Euripides and the poets of the New Comedy, that apophthegms of Euripides have been ascribed to Menander, and vice versa. On the contrary, we find among the fragments of Menander maxims of consolation, which rise in a striking manner even into the tragic tone" (It may be added, that we have abundant testimony to prove that Menander was a great admirer and imitator of Euripides).
"The New Comedy, therefore, is a mixture of sport and earnest. The poet no longer makes a sport of poetry and the world, he does not resign himself to a mirthful enthusiasm, but he seeks the sportive character in his subject, he depicts in human characters and situations that which gives occasion to mirth; in a word, whatever is pleasant and ridiculous."
Menander is remarkable for the elegance with which he threw into the form of single verses, or short sentences, the maxims of that practical wisdom in the affairs of common life which forms so important a feature of the New Comedy. Various "Anthologies" of such sentences were compiled by the ancient grammarians from Menander's works, of which there is still extant a very interesting specimen, in the collection of several hundred lines (778 in Meineke's edition), under the title of Gnomai monostichoi. Respecting the collection entitled Menandroi kai Philistionos sunkrisis, see Philistion.
The number of Menander's comedies is stated at a few more than a hundred; 105, 108, and 109, according to different authorities (Suid. s. v.; Anon. de Com.; Donat. Vit. Ter.; Aul. Gell. xvii. 4). We only know with certainty the date of one of the plays, namely, the Orge, which was brought out in B. C. 321, when Menander was only in his twenty-first year. We have fragments of, or references to, the following plays, amounting in all to nearly ninety titles: Adelphoi (imitated by Terence, who, however, has mixed up with it the Sunapothneskontes of Diphilus). Alaeis not Alai Araphenides, Halieis, Anatithemene e Messenia, Andria, (mixed up with the Perinthia in the Andria of Terence), Androgunos e Kres, Anepsioi, Apistos, Arrhephoros e Auletris, Aspis, Hauton penthon, Aphrodisia, boiotia, Georgos, Daktulios, Dardanos, Deisidaimon, Demiourgos, Didumai, Dis exapaton, Duskolos, Heauton timoroumenos (copied by Terence), Encheiridion, Empipramene, Epangellomenos, Epikleros, Epitrepontes (the plot of which was similar to that of the Hecyra of Terence), Eunouchos (imitated by Terence, but with a change in the dramatis personae), Ephesios, Heniochos, Heros, Thais, Thettale, Theophroumene, Thesauros (translated into Latin by Lucius Lavinius), Thrasuleon Hiereia, Imxrioi, Hippokomos, Kanephoros, Karine, Karchedonios (from which Plautus probably took his Poenulus), Katapseudomenos, Kerkuphalos, Kitharistes, Knidia, Kolaz (partly followed in the Eunuchus of Terence), Koneiazomenai (perhaps better Koniazomenai), KnxerWetai Aeukadia, Aokroi, Methe, Menagurtes, Misogunes (reckoned bv Phrynichus the best of all Menander's comedies, Epit), Misoumenos (another of his best plays, Liban. Orat. xxxi.), Naukleros, Nomothetes, Eenologos, Olunthia, Homopatrioi, Orge, Paidion, Pallake, Parakatatheke, Perikeiromene, Perinthia, Plokion, Progamot, Proenkalon, Poloumenot, Hpapizomene, Samia, SikuoWios, Stratiotai, Sunaristosai, Sunerosa, Eunephexoi, Titthe, Trophonios, Udria, Humnis, Hupoxolimaios e Agroikos, Phanion, Phasma, Philadelphoi, Chalkeia, Chalkis, Chera, Pseuderakles, Psophodees. There are also about 500 fragments which cannot be assigned to their proper places. To these must be added the Gnomai monostichoi, some passages of the Gnomai (or Sunkrisis) Menandrou kai Philistionos and two epigrams, one in the Greek Anthology (quoted above), and one in the Latin version of Ausonius (Epig. 139). Of the letters to Ptolemy, which Suidas mentions, nothing survives, and it may fairly be doubted whether they were not, like the so-called letters of other great men of antiquity, the productions of the later rhetoricians. Suidas ascribes to him some orations, logous pleistous katalogaden, a statement of which there is no confirmation; but Quintilian (x. 1.70) tells us that some ascribed the orations of Charisius to Menander.
Of the ancient commentators on Menander, the earliest was Lynceus of Samos, his contemporary and rival . The next was the grammarian Aristophanes, whose admiration of Menander we have spoken of above, and whose work, entitled paralleloi Menandrou te kai aph hon eklepsen eklogai, is mentioned by Eusebius (Praep. Evan. x. 3), who also mentions a work by a certain Latinus or Cratinus, peri ton ouk idion Menandrou. Next comes Plutarch's Comparison of Menander and Aristophanes: next Soterides of Epidaurus, who wrote a hupomnema eis Menandrou (Eudoc.; Suid. vol. iii.); and lastly Homer, surnamed Sellius, the author of a work entitled periochai ton Menandrou dramaton (Suid vol. ii.). The Menandrean letters of Alciphron also contain some valuable information. They are printed by Meineke in his edition of Menander.
The fragments of Menander were first printed in the collection of Sntentiae, chiefly from the New Comedy, by Morellius, Greek and Latin, Paris, 1553; next in the similar collection of Hertelius, Greek and Latin, Basel, 1560; next in that of H. Stephanus, Greek and Latin, with the Tractatus of Stephanus, De habendo Delectu Sententiarum quae gnomai a Graecis dicuntur, and the Dissertatio de Menandro of Greg. Gyraldus, 1569 (this curiously shaped little volume, which is 41/2 inches long, by scarcely 2 wide, contains extracts from several poets of the Middle and New Comedy); next, Menandri et Philistionis Sententiae Comparatae, Graece, cur. Nic. Rigaltii, excud. R. Stephanus, 1613; Menandri et Philistionis XUNKRIXIX, c. vers. Lat. et not. Rutgersii et D. Heinsii, 1618. (in the Var. Lect. of Rutgers); Menandri Fragmenta, Graec. et Lat. in H. Grotii Excerpt. ex Trag. et Com. Graec. Paris, 1626, 4to.; Menandri Sententiae, in Winterton's Poet. Min. Graec., Cautab. et Lond. 1653. The first attempt at a complete critical edition was the following :-- Menandri et Philemonis Reliquiae, quotquot reperire potuerunt, Graece et Latine, cum notis Hug. Grotii et Joh. Clerici, &c., Amst. 1709: this edition was reprinted in 1732, 1752, 1771, and 1777, but has been very generally condemned. Since the publication of that work there has been no edition of Meander worthy of notice, except that his Gnomai have had a place in the various collections of the gnomic poets, until the appearance of Meineke's Menandri et Philemonis Reliquiae, Berol. 1823: this admirable edition contains, besides the fragments, dissertations on the lives and writings of the two poets, and Bentley's emendations on the fragments. The fragments are reprinted by Meineke (with the annotations somewhat condensed) in the fourth volume of his Fragmenta Comicorum Graecorum, Berol. 1841; but in the first volume of that work, which contains the Historia Critica Comicorum Graecorum, he passes over the lives of Menander and Philemon, referring the reader to his former work. Meineke's collection has been also reprinted (carefully revised, and with the addition of a Latin version), by Dubner, as an appendix to the Aristophanes of Didot's Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum, Paris, 1840. (For the works on Menander, see Hoffman, Lexicon Bibliograph.: the chief authorities, besides Meineke, are Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. ii; Bernhardy, Grundriss der Gricchischen Litteratur, vol. ii; Muller, Grk. Lit)
Menander, the son of Diopeithes, a well-known general, was born at Athens, B.C. 342. He passed his youth in the house of his uncle and received from him and from Theophrastus instruction in poetry and philosophy, probably deriving from the latter in some measure the knowledge of character for which he was noted. His first comedy was produced when he was twenty-one years of age, and from that time until his death, which occurred some thirty years later while bathing in the harbor of the Piraeus, he wrote more than a hundred plays, eight of them winning the prize. He was a disciple of the Epicurean school, and is described by Phaedrus as an effeminate voluptuary, while his amours with the courtesan, Glycera, were notorious. Menander is accepted as the best writer of the comedy of manners among the Greeks. We have a few specimens of the ingenuity of his plots in some of the plays of Terence, whom Julius Caesar used to call a demi-Menander. He was an imitator of Euripides, and we may infer from what Quintilian says of him that his comedies differed from the tragi-comedies of that poet only in the absence of mythical subjects and a chorus. Like Euripides, he was a good rhetorician, and Quintilian is inclined to attribute to him some orations published in the name of Charisius. The every-day life of his countrymen, and manners and characters of ordinary occurrence, were the objects of his imitation. His plots, though skillfully contrived, are somewhat monotonous, and there are few of his comedies which do not bring on the stage a harsh father, a profligate son and a roguish slave. Yet he was greatly esteemed in Athens, where a statue was erected to his memory in the theatre of Dionysus.
Alfred Bates, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the TheatreHistory URL below.
Quotations by Menander
He who labors diligently need never despair; for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor.
Riches cover a multitude of woes. (Lady of Andros)
The man who runs may fight again. (Monostikoi "Single Lines")
Whom the gods love dies young. (The Double Deceiver)
Deus ex machina [A god from the machine]. (The Woman Possessed with a Divinity)
I call a fig a fig, a spade a spade.
It is not white hair that engenders wisdom.
KYDATHINEI (Ancient demos) ATHENS
Aristophanes, judged in antiquity to be the foremost poet of the 'old' Attic comedy, was the son of one Philippos, of the urban deme Kydathenaion. He was born ca. 447/6 and died probably between 386 and 380. Aside from his theatrical career little is known about his life. By his twenties his hair had thinned or receded enough that he could be called bald; early in the fourth century he served as a councillor; and he had two sons, Araros and Philippos, both of whom had careers as comic poets in the mid-fourth century. In his dialogue Symposion, Plato portrays Aristophanes as being at home among the social and intellectual elite of Athens, but the historical veracity of this portrayal is uncertain.
Aristophanes' first comedy was produced in 427 and his last in 386 or later. At least once he produced a comedy in the theater at Eleusis. Forty-four comedies ascribed to him were known to Alexandrian scholars (four of these they thought spurious); from the Alexandrian edition(s) eleven complete comedies and some 1000 brief fragments of the lost comedies survive. In competition Aristophanes won at least six first prizes and four second prizes, and only two last-place finishes are attested. After his victory with Frogs in 405, the people voted him an honorific crown of sacred olive for the advice he had given in the parabasis and decreed that the play should have the unique honor of being performed a second time. Aristophanes? eleven extant plays are: Acharnians (Lenaea 425), Knights (Lenaia 424), Clouds (Dionysia 423; the surviving version is an incomplete and never-staged revision dating from 419-17), Wasps (Lenaea 422), Peace (Dionysia 421), Birds (Dionysia 414), Lysistrata (Lenaea 411), Women at the Thesmophoria (Dionysia 411), Frogs (Lenaea 405), Ecclesiazusae (ca. 391), Plutus (388).
Aristophanes' early career was enlivened by a four-year legal and political battle with his fellow-demesman, Cleon, who from ca. 428 until his death in 422 was the most influential politician in Athens. Attacked in Aristophanes' play Babylonians (Dionysia 426), Cleon unsuccessfully denounced the poet to the council for having slandered the magistrates, councillors and the people of Athens in the presence of foreigners. In Acharnians the following year, Aristophanes both defended his critique and announced that he was preparing a new attack on Cleon in his next year's play, Knights. That play, which savagely caricatured Cleon and bitterly condemned his public career, inaugurated a novel type of political comedy, which singled out the new-style popular politicians like Cleon for portrayal as dishonest 'demagogues' and which has deeply influenced the verdict of posterity about this period of Athenian history. After Knights, Cleon again tried to prosecute Aristophanes (on what charge is unclear), and this time the case was settled out of court. Evidently Aristophanes promised to mitigate subsequent attacks, but the attacks continued nevertheless in both Clouds and Wasps, where the poet boasted about his failure to live up to his agreement.
Aristophanes created influential portrayals of at least two other major contemporaries as well. In Clouds, the philosopher Socrates is made to stand for everything intellectually and socially threatening about the sophistic movement in Athens; in Apology, a re-creation of Socrates' defense-speech at his capital trial in 399, Plato has the philosopher say that Aristophanes' portrayal created a public prejudice against him that was more dangerous than his accusers' actual charges. In Acharnians, Women at the Thesmophoria and Frogs, Aristophanes portrayed Euripides and his tragic art as degenerate and as harmful to the polis, but at the same time he incorporated the sophisticated Euripidean spirit so thoroughly into his comic modes that his old rival, Cratinus, could coin the word 'euripidaristophanizer' to describe modish theatergoers. As in the case of Cleon (but not Socrates, who was lucky enough to have Plato and Xenophon to establish his good name for posterity), Aristophanes' judgment on Euripides (especially in Frogs) has done much to establish his status among literary historians as a tragedian inferior to Aeschylus and Sophocles.
Aristophanes was a sharp observer of the social and political life of Athens, but his plays reveal no systematic or original political credos. In Acharnians and Lysistrata the sympathetic characters denounce the folly and greed of Athens' wartime leaders and urge that more should be done to negotiate a peaceful settlement, but Birds supports vigorous prosecution of the war-effort, particularly the expedition against Sicily. In Knights and Wasps the wickedness of popular leaders like Cleon is vehemently exposed, but at the same time the people are criticized for their ignorance and gullibility in following such leaders. On the whole, Aristophanes compares contemporary Athens, which he sees as being in decline, unfavorably with the Athens that had defeated the Persians and built a great empire, while at the same time he urges his countrymen to recapture the ideals, policies and leadership that had made Athens great. To judge from the kinds of people he satirizes and does not satirize, Aristophanes thought that democracy worked best when the ordinary citizens deferred to the well-born, wealthy and educated citizens, though he never suggests the adoption of an oligarchic arrangement to accomplish that goal.
Aristophanes reacted in a similar way to contemporary morality, education and the arts. Although he was fully a part of his own generation and thoroughly versed in its latest fashions, Aristophanes was also a nostalgic student of the past and thought that Athenian culture had been sounder, grander and stronger in the old days. In Clouds he trenchantly skewers what was hidebound about the old education, and in Frogs he makes telling criticisms of Aeschylus' tragic art, but we are meant to come away with the feeling that modern educators and artists, like their contemporaries, were not accomplishing what their counterparts in the good old days had accomplished.
As a playwright, Aristophanes was resourceful and ingenious in creating lively drama, especially in creating efficient devices (like Socrates' Thinkery in Clouds or the House of Demos in Knights) for the expression and exploration of complex ideas. As a stylist, he is graceful, urbane, consistently witty and humorous, with a fine ear for speech (human or otherwise!) and a great gift for parody.
This text is cited Oct 2003 from Perseus Project URL bellow, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Aristophanes, the greatest comedian of his age, and perhaps of
all the ages, history contains few notices, and these of doubtful credit. Even
the dates of his birth and death can only be inferred from his works, the former
being estimated at 456 B.C. and the latter at 380. Many cities claimed the honor
of giving him birth, the most probable story making him the son of Philippus of
Aegina, and therefore only
an adopted citizen of Athens.
On this point some confusion has arisen from an attempt of Cleon to deprive Aristophanes
of his civic rights, on the ground of illegitimacy, in revenge for his frequent
invectives. The charge was disproved, thus pointing to the Athenian parentage
of the comic poet, though as to this there is no trustworthy evidence. He was
doubtless educated at Athens, and among other advantages is said to have been
a disciple of Prodicus, though in his mention of that sophist he shows none of
the respect due to his reputed master.
It was under the mighty genius of Aristophanes that the old Attic comedy received its fullest development. Dignified by the acquisition of a chorus of masked actors, and of scenery and machinery, and by a corresponding literary elaboration and elegance of style, comedy nevertheless remained true both to its origin and to the purposes of its introduction into the free imperial city. It borrowed much from tragedy, but it retained the Phallic abandonment of the old rural festivals, the license of word and gesture, and the audacious directness of personal invective. These characteristics are not features peculiar to Aristophanes. He was twitted by some of the older comic poets with having degenerated from the full freedom of the art through a tendency to refinement, and he took credit to himself for having superseded the time-honored can can and the stale practical joking of his predecessors by a nobler kind of mirth. But in boldness, as he likewise boasted, he had no peer; and the shafts of his wit, though dipped in wine-lees and at times feathered from very obscene fowl, flew at high game. He has been accused of seeking to degrade what he ought to have recognized as good; and it has been shown by competent critics that he is not to be taken as an impartial or accurate authority on Athenian history. But, partisan as he was, he was also a genuine patriot, and his very political sympathies--which were conservative--were such as have often stimulated the most effective political satire, because they imply an antipathy to every species of excess. Of reverence he was, however, altogether devoid; and his love for Athens was that of the most free-spoken of sons. Flexible, even in his religious notions, he was in this, as in other respects, ready to be educated by his times; and, like a true comic poet, he could be witty at the expense even of his friends, and, it might almost be said, of himself. In wealth of fancy and in beauty of lyric melody he ranks high among the great poets of all times.
It has been said that Aristophanes was an unmannerly buffoon, and so, indeed, he was, among his other faults. Nor was he at all justified in stooping to this degradation, whether it were that he was instigated by coarse inclinations, or that he held it necessary to gain over the populace, that he might have it in his power to tell such bold truths to the people. At least he makes it his boast that he did not court the laughter of the multitude so much as his rivals did, by mere indecent buffoonery, and that in this respect he brought his art to perfection. Not to be unreasonable, we should judge him from the standpoint of his own times, in respect of those peculiarities which make him offensive to us. On certain points, the ancients had quite a different morality from ours, and certainly a much freer one. This arose from their religion, which was a real worship of Nature, and had given sanctity to many public ceremonies which grossly violate decency. Moreover, as in consequence of the seclusion of their women, the men were almost always together, a certain coarseness entered into their conversation, as in such circumstances is apt to be the case.
The strongest testimony in favor of Aristophanes is that of Plato, who, in one of his epigrams, says that "the Graces chose his soul for their abode." The philosopher was a constant reader of the comedian, sending to Dionysius the elder a copy of the Clouds, from which to make himself acquainted with the Athenian republic. This was not intended merely as a description of the unbridled democratic freedom then prevailing at Athens, but as an example of the poet's thorough knowledge of the world, and of the political conditions of what was then the world's metropolis.
In his Symposium, Plato makes Aristophanes deliver a discourse on love, which the latter explains in a sensual manner, but with remarkable originality. At the end of the banquet, Aristodemus, who was one of the guests, fell asleep, "and, as the nights were long, took a good rest. When he was awakened, toward daybreak, by the crowing of cocks, the others were also asleep or had gone away, and there remained awake only Aristophanes, Agathon and Socrates, who were drinking out of a large goblet that was passed around, while Socrates was discoursing to them. Aristodemus did not hear all the discourse, for he was only half awake; but he remembered Socrates insisting to the other two that the genius of comedy was the same as that of tragedy, and that the writer of the one should also be a writer of the other. To this they were compelled to assent, being sleepy, and not quite understanding what he meant. And first Aristophanes fell asleep, and then, when the day was dawning, Agathon."
The words applied by Goethe to a shrewd adventurer, "mad, but clever," might also be used of the plays of Aristophanes, which are the very intoxication of poetry, the Bacchanalia of mirth. For mirth will maintain its rights as well as the other faculties; therefore, different nations have set apart certain holidays for jovial folly, and such as their saturnalia, their carnival, that being once satisfied to their hearts' content, they might keep themselves sober all the rest of the year, and leave free room for serious occupation. The old comedy is a general masquerade of the world, beneath which there passes much that is not allowed by the common rules of propriety; but at the same time much that is amusing, clever, and even instructive is brought to light, which would not have been possible but for the demolition for the moment of these barricades.
However corrupt and vulgar Aristophanes may have been in his personal propensities, however much he may offend decency and taste in his individual jests, yet in the plan and conduct of his poems in general, we cannot refuse him the praise of the carefulness and masterly skill of the finished artist. His language is infinitely graceful; the purest Atticism prevails in it, and he adapts it with great skill to all tones, from the most familiar dialogue to the lofty flight of the dithyrambic ode. We cannot doubt that he would have also succeeded in more serious poetry, when we see how at times he lavishes it, merely to annihilate its impression immediately afterward. This elegance is rendered the more attractive by contrast, since on the one hand he admist the rudest expressions of the people, the dialects, and even the mutilated Greek of barbarians, while on the other, the same arbitrary caprice which he brought to his views of universal nature and the human world, he also applies to language, and by composition, by allusion and personal names, or imitation of sound, forms the strangest words imaginable. His versification is not less artificial than that of the tragedians; he uses the same forms, but otherwise modified, as his personages are not to be impressive and dignified, but of a light and varied character; yet with all this seeming irregularity he observes the laws of metre no less strictly than the tragic poets do.
As we cannot help recognizing in Aristophanes' exercise of his varied and multiform art, the richest development of almost every poetical talent, so the extraordinary capacities of his hearers, which may be inferred from the structure of his works, are at every fresh perusal a matter of astonishment. Accurate acquaintance with the history and constitution of their country, with public events and proceedings, with the personal circumstances of almost all remarkable contemporaries, might be expected from the citizens of a democratic republic. But, besides this, Aristophanes required from his audience much poetic culture; especially they had to retain in their memories the tragic masterpieces, almost word by word, in order to understand his parodies.
The old comedy of the Greeks would have been impossible under any other form of government than a complete and unrestricted democracy; for it exercised a satirical censorship unsparing of public and private life, of statesmanship, of political and social usage, of education and literature, in a word, of everything which concerned the city, or could amuse the citizens. Retaining all the license, the riot and exuberance which marked its origin, it combined with this an expression of public opinion in such form that neither vice, misconduct, nor folly could venture to disregard it. If it was disfigured by grossness and licentiousness, this, it must be remembered, was in keeping with the sentiment of Dionysian festivals, just as a decorous cheerfulness was expected at festivals in honor of Apollo or Athena. To omit these features from comedy would be to deprive it of its most popular element, and without them the entertainment would have fallen flat.
Greek literature was immeasurably rich in this department: the names of the lost comedians, most of whom were very prolific, and of their works, so far as we are acquainted with them, would alone form a bulky catalogue. Although the new comedy unfolded itself, and flourished only for some eighty years, the number of plays certainly amounted to a thousand at least; but time has made such havoc with this superabundance of works that nothing remains except detached fragments in the original language, in many cases so disfigured as to be unintelligible, and in the Latin, a number of translations or adaptations of Greek originals.
For a comic poet who was unquestionably at the head of the fraternity, and in sentiment was intensely patriotic, the consciousness of his recognized power and the desire to use it for the good of his native city must ever have been the prevailing motives. At Athens such a man held an influence resembling rather that of the modern journalist than the modern dramatist; but the established type of comedy gave him an instrument such as no public satirist ever wielded, before or since. He was under no such limitations as to form or process, allusion or emphasis, as is the modern dramatist, and could indulge in the wildest flights of extravagance. After his keenest thrust or most passionate appeal, he could at once change his subject from the grave to the burlesque, and, in short, there was no limit to his field for invective and satire.
"Aristophanes," as one of his critics remarks, "is for us, the representative of old comedy." But it is important to notice that his genius, while it includes, also transcends the genius of the old comedy. He can denounce the frauds of Cleon, he can vindicate the duty of Athens to herself and to her allies with a stinging scorn and a force of patriotic indignation which make the poet almost forgotten in the citizen. He can banter Euripides with an ingenuity of light mockery which makes it seem for the time as if the leading Aristophonic trait was the art of seeing all things from their prosaic side. Yet it is neither in the denunciation nor in the mockery that he is most individual. His truest and highest faculty is revealed by those wonderful bits of lyric writing in which he soars above everything that can move laughter or tears, and makes the clear air thrill with the notes of a song as free, as musical and as wild as that of the nightingale invoked by his own chorus in the Birds. The speech of True Logic in the Clouds, the praises of country life in the Peace, the serenade in the Eccleziazusae, the songs of the Spartan and Athenian maidens in the Lysistrata, above all, perhaps the chorus in the Frogs, the beautiful chant of the Initiated--these passages, and such as these, are the true glories of Aristophanes. They are the strains, not of an artist, but of one who warbles for pure gladness of heart in some place made bright by the presence of a god. Nothing else in Greek poetry has quite this wild sweetness of the woods. Of modern poets Shakespeare alone, perhaps, has it in combination with a like richness and fertility of fancy.
A sympathetic reader of Aristophanes can hardly fail to percieve that, while his political and intellectual tendencies are well marked, his opinions, in so far as they color his comedies, are too definite to reward, or indeed to tolerate, analysis. Aristophanes was a natural conservative. His ideal was the Athens of the Persian wars. He disapproved the policy which had made Athenian empire irksome to the allies and formidable to Greece; he detested the vulgarity and the violence of mob-rule; he clave to the old worship of the gods; he regarded the new ideas of education as a tissue of imposture and impiety. How far he was from clearness or precision of view in regard to the intellectual revolution which was going forward appears from the Clouds, in which thinkers and literary workers who had absolutely nothing in common are treated with sweeping ridicule as prophets of a common heresy. Aristophanes is one of the men for whom opinion is mainly a matter of feeling, not of reason. His imaginative susceptibility gave him a warm and loyal love for the traditional glories of Athens, however dim the past to which they belonged; a horror of what was offensive or absurd in pretension. The broad preferences and dislikes thus generated were enough not only to point the moral of comedy, but to make him, in many cases, a really useful censor for the city. The service which he could render in this way was, however, only negative. He could hardly be, in any positive sense, a political or a moral teacher for Athens. His rooted antipathy to intellectual progress, while it affords easy and wide scope for his wit, must, after all, lower his rank. The great minds are not the enemies of ideas. But as a mocker--to use the word which seems most closely to describe him on this side--he is incomparable for the union of subtlety with the riot of comic imagination. As a poet, he is immortal; and, amont Athenian poets, he has for his distinctive characteristic that he is inspired less by that Greek genius which never allows fancy to escape from the control of defining, though spiritualizing reason, than by such ethereal rapture of the unfettered fancy as lifts Shakespeare or Shelley above it,--
"Pouring out his full soul
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art."
Alfred Bates, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the TheatreHistory URL below.
Aristophanes . The greatest writer of Greek comedy. He lived at Athens, B.C. 444-388.
His father, Philippus, is said to have been not a native Athenian, but a settler
from Rhodes or Egypt, who afterwards acquired citizenship. However this may be,
the demagogue Cleon, whose displeasure Aristophanes had incurred, tried to call
in question his right to the citizenship. His first comedy appeared in B.C. 427,
but was not performed under his own name because of his youth; and several more
of his plays were brought upon the stage by Callistratus and Philonides, till
in 424 he brought out The Knights in his own person. Forty-four of his plays were
known to antiquity, though four of them were considered doubtful. Of these we
possess eleven, the only complete Greek comedies which have survived, besides
the titles and numerous fragments of twenty-six others.
The eleven are:
(1) The Acharnians (Acharneis), which gained him the victory over Cratinus and Eupolis, B.C. 425, written during the great Peloponnesian War to induce the Athenians to make peace.
(2) The Knights (Hippeis) mentioned above, B.C. 424, also crowned with the first prize, and aimed directly against the demagogue Cleon.
(3) The Clouds (Nephelai), B.C. 423, his most famous and, in his own opinion, his most successful piece, though when played it only won the third prize. We have it now in a second, and apparently unfinished, edition. It is directed against the pernicious influence of the Sophists, as the representative of whom Socrates is attacked.
(4) The Wasps (Sphekes), brought out in B.C. 422, and, like the two following, rewarded with the second prize; it is a satire upon the Athenian passion for lawsuits.
(5) The Peace (Eirene), of the year B.C. 421, recommending the conclusion of peace.
(6) The Birds (Ornithes), acted in B.C. 414, and exposing the romantic hopes built on the expedition to Sicily. This is unquestionably the happiest production of the poet's genius, and is marked by a careful reserve in the employment of dramatic resource.
(7) The Lysistrate (Lusistrate), B.C. 411, a Women's Conspiracy to bring about peace; the last of the strictly political plays.
(8) Thesmophoriazusae (Thesmophoriazousai), probably to be dated B.C. 410. It is written against Euripides's dislike of women, for which the women who are celebrating the Thesmophoria drag him to justice.
(9) The Frogs (Batrachoi), which was acted in B.C. 405, and won the first prize. It is a piece sparkling with genius, on the decay of tragic art, the blame of which is laid on Euripides, then recently deceased.
(10) Ecclesiazusae (Ekklesiazousai), or The National Assembly of Women, B.C. 392. It is levelled against the vain attempts to restore the Athenian state by cut-and-dried constitutions.
(11) Plutus (Ploutos), or The God of Wealth. The blind god is restored to sight, and better times are brought about. This play was acted first in B.C. 408, then in 388 in a revised form suitable to the time, and dispensing with chorus and parabasis. This play marks the transition to the Middle Comedy. See Comoedia.
In the opinion of the ancients, Aristophanes holds a middle place between Cratinus and Eupolis, being neither so rough as the former nor so mild as the latter, but combining the severity of the one with the grace of the other. What was [p. 128] thought of him in his own time is evident from Plato's Symposium, where he is numbered among the noblest of men; and an epigram attributed to that philosopher says that the Graces, looking for an enduring shrine, found it in the soul of Aristophanes. He unites understanding, feeling, and fancy in a degree possessed by few poets of antiquity. His keen glance penetrates the many evils of his time and their most hidden causes; his scorn for all that is base, and his patriotic spirit, burning to bring back the grand days of Marathon, urge him on, without respect of persons or regard for self, to drag the faults he sees into daylight, and lash them with stinging sarcasm; while his inexhaustible fancy invents ever new and original materials, which he manipulates with perfect mastery of language and technical skill. If his jokes are often coarse and actually indecent, the fact must be imputed to the character of the Old Comedy and the licentiousness of the Dionysiac festival, during which the plays were acted. No literature has anything to compare with these comedies. Ancient scholars, recognizing their great importance, bestowed infinite pains in commenting on them, and valuable relics of their writings are enshrined in the existing collections of scholia.
This text is cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Aristophanes, the only writer of the old comedy of whom any entire works are left.
His later extant plays approximate rather to the middle comedy, and in the Cocalus,
his last production, he so nearly approached the new, that Philemon brought it
out a second time with very little alteration.
Aristophanes was the son of Philippus, as is stated by all the authorities for his life, and proved by the fact of his son also having that name, although a bust exists with the inscription Aristophanes PhilippidoW, which is, however, now generally allowed to be spurious. He was an Athenian of the tribe Pandionis, and the Cydathenaean Demus, and is said to have been the pupil of Prodicus, though this is improbable, since he speaks of him rather with contempt. We are told (Schol. ad Ran. 502), that he first engaged in the comic contests when he was schedon meirakiskos, and we know that the date of his first comedy was B. C. 427: we are therefore warranted in assigning about B. C. 444 as the date of his birth, and his death was probably not later than B. C. 380. His three sons, Philippus, Araros, and Nicostratus, were all poets of the middle comedy. Of his private history we know nothing but that he was a lover of pleasure (Plat. Symp.), and one who spent whole nights in drinking and witty conversation. Accusations (his anonymous biographer says, more than one) were brought against him by Cleon, with a view to deprive him of his civic rights (xenias graphai), but without success, as indeed they were merely the fruit of revenge for his attacks on that demagogue. They have, however, given rise to a number of traditions of his being a Rhodian, an Egyptian, an Aeginetan, a native of Camirus or of Naucratis.
The comedies of Aristophanes are of the highest historical interest, containing as they do an admirable series of caricatures on the leading men of the day, and a contemporary commentary on the evils existing at Athens. Indeed, the caricature is the only feature in modern social life which at all resembles them. Aristophanes was a bold and often a wise patriot. He had the strongest affection for Athens, and longed to see her restored to the state in which she was flourishing in the previous generation, and almost in his own childhood, before Pericles became the head of the government, and when the age of Miltiades and Aristeides had but just passed away. The first great evil of his own time against which he inveighs, is the Peloponnesian war, which he regards as the work of Pericles, and even attributes it (Pax, 606) to his fear of punishment for having connived at a robbery said to have been committed by Phidias on the statue of Athene in the Parthenon, and to the influence of Aspasia (Ach. 500). To this fatal war, among a host of evils, he ascribes the influence of vulgar demagogues like Cleon at Athens, of which also the example was set by the more refined demagogism of Pericles. Another great object of his indignation was the recently adopted system of education which had been introduced by the Sophists, acting on the speculative and inquiring turn given to the Athenian mind by the Ionian and Eleatic philosophers, and the extraordinary intellectual development of the age following the Persian war. The new theories introduced by the Sophists threatened to overthrow the foundations of morality, by making persuasion and not truth the object of man in his intercourse with his fellows, and to substitute a universal scepticism for the religious creed of the people. The worst effects of such a system were seen in Alcibiades, who, caring for nothing but his own ambition, valuing eloquence only for its worldly advantages, and possessed of great talents which he utterly misapplied, combined all the elements which Aristophanes most disliked, heading the war party in politics, and protecting the sophistical school in philosophy and also in literature. Of this latter school--the literary and poetical Sophists--Euripides was the chief, whose works are full of that meteorosophia which contrasts so offensively with the moral dignity of Aeschylus and Sophocles, and for which Aristophanes introduces him as soaring in the air to write his tragedies (Ach. 374), caricaturing thereby his own account of himself (Alc. 971). Another feature of the times was the excessive love for litigation at Athens, the consequent importance of the dicasts, and disgraceful abuse of their power; all of which enormities are made by Aristophanes objects of continual attack. But though he saw what were the evils of his time, he had not wisdom to find a remedy for them, except the hopeless and undesirable one of a movement backwards; and therefore, though we allow him to have been honest and bold, we must deny him the epithet of great.
We subjoin a catalogue of the comedies of Aristophanes on which we possess information, and a short account of the most remarkable. Those marked (E) are extant.
427. Daitaleis, Banquetters. Second prize. The play was produced under the name of Philonides, as Aristophanes was below the legal age for competing for a prize. Fifth year of the war
426. Babylonians (en astei).
425. (E) Acharnians. (Lenaea.) Produced in the name of Callistratus. First prize
424. (E) Hippeis, Knights or Horsemen. (Lenaea.) The first play produced in the name of Aristophanes himself. First prize; second Cratinus.
423. (E) Clouds (en astei). First prize, Cratinus; second Ameipsias.
422. (E) Wasps. (Lenaea.) Second prize.
Geras (?) (en astei), according to the probable conjecture of Suvern. (Essay on the Geras, translated by Mr. Hamilton.)
Clouds (second edition), failed in obtaining a prize. But Ranke places this B. C. 411, and the whole subject is very uncertain
419. (E) Peace (en astei). Second prize; Eupolls first
414. Amphiaraus. (Lenaea.) Second prize
(E) Birds (en astei), second prize; Ameipsias first; Phrynichus third. Second campaign in Sicily
Georgoi (?). Exhibited in the time of Nicias. (Plut. Nic. c. 8.)
411. (E) Lysistrata
(E) Thesmophoriazusae. During the Oligarchy
408. (E) First Plutus.
405. (E) Frogs. (Lenaea.) First prize; Phrynicus second; Plato third. Death of Sophocles.
392. (E) Ecclesiazusae. Corinthian war.
388. Second edition of the Plutus
The last two comedies of Aristophanes were the Aeolosicon and Cocalus, produced about B. C. 387 (date of the peace of Antalcidas) by Araros, one of his sons. The first was a parody on the Aeolus of Euripides, the name being compounded of Aeolus and Sicon, a famous cook. The second was probably a similar parody of a poem on the death of Minos, said to have been killed by Cocalus, king of Sicily. Of the Aeolosicon there were two editions.
In the Daitaleis the object of Aristophanes was to censure generally the abandonment of those ancient manners and feelings which it was the labour of his life to restore. He attacked the modem schemes of education by introducing a father with two sons, one of whom had been educated according to the old system, the other in the sophistries of later days. The chorus consisted of a party who had been feasting in the temple of Hercules; and Bp. Thirlwall supposes, that as the play was written when the plague was at its height (Schol. ad Ran. 502), the poet recommended a return to the gymnastic exercises of which that god was the patron (comp. Eq. 1379), and to the old system of education, as the means most likely to prevent its continuance.
In the Babylonians we are told, that he "attacked the system of appointing to offices by lot." (Vit. Aristoph. Bekk. p. xiii.) The chorus consisted of barbarian slaves employed in a mill, which Ranke has conjectured was represented as belonging to the demagogue Eucrates (Eq. 129), who united the trade of a miller with that of a vender of tow. Cleon also must have been a main object of the poet's satire, and probably the public functionaries of the day in general, since an action was brought by Cleon against Callistratus, in whose name it was produeed, accusing him of ridiculing the govermment in the presence of the allies. But the attack appears to have failed.
In the Acharnians, Aristophanes exhorts his countrymen to peace. An Athenian named Dicaeopolis makes a separate treaty with Sparta for himself and his family, and is exhibited in the full enjoyment of its blessings, whilst Lamachus, as the representative of the war party, is introduced in the want of common necessaries, and suffering from cold, and snow, and wounds. The Knights was directed against Cleon, whose power at this time was so great, that no one was bold enough to make a mask to represent his features; so that Aristophanes performed the character himself, with his face smeared with wine-lees. Cleon is the confidential steward of Demus, the impersonation of the Athenian people, who is represented as almost in his dotage, but at the same time cunning, suspicious, ungovernable, and tyrannical. His slaves, Nicias and Demosthenes, determine to rid themselves of the insolence of Cleon by raising up a rival in the person of a sausage-seller, by which the poet ridicules the mean occupation of the demagogues. This man completely triumphs over Cleon in his own arts of lying, stealing, fawning, and blustering. Having thus gained the day, he suddenly becomes a model of ancient Athenian excellence, and by boiling Demus in a magic cauldron, restores him to a condition worthy of the companionship of Aristeides and Miltiades. (Eq. 1322.)
In the Clouds, Aristophanes attacks the sophistical principles at their source, and selects as their representative Socrates, whom lie depicts in the most odious light. The selection of Socrates for this purpose is doubtless to be accounted for by the supposition, that Aristophanes observed the great philosopher from a distance only, while his own unphilosophical turn of mind prevented him from entering into Socrates' merits both as a teacher and a practiser of morality; and by the fact, that Socrates was an innovator, the friend of Euripides, the tutor of Alcibiades, and pupil of Archelaus ; and that there was much in his appearance and habits in the highest degree ludicrous. The philosopher, who wore no under garments, and the same upper robe in winter and summer,--who generally went barefoot, and appears to have possessed one pair of dress-shoes which lasted him for life, who used to stand for hours in a public place in a fit of abstraction--to say nothing of his snub nose, and extraordinary face and figure--could hardly expect to escape the license of the old comedy. The invariably speculative turn which he gave to the conversation, his bare acquiescence in the stories of Greek mythology, which Aristophanes would think it dangerous even to subject to inquiry (see Plat. Phaedrus), had certainly produced an unfavourable opinion of Socrates in the minds of many, and explain his being set down by Aristophanes as an archsophist, and represented even as a thief. In the Clouds, he is described as corrupting a young man named Pheidippides, who is wasting his father's money by an insane passion for horses, and is sent to the subtlety-shop (phrontisterion) of Socrates and Chaerephon to be still further set free from moral restraint, and particularly to acquire the needful accomplishment of cheating his creditors. In this spendthrift youth it is scarcely possible not to recognise Alcibiades, not only from his general character and connexion with the Sophists, but also from more particular traits, as allusions to his traulismos, or inability to articulate certain letters (Nub. 1381; Plut. Ale.), and to his fancy for horse-breeding and driving. (Satyrus, ap. Athen. xii.) Aristophanes would be prevented from introducing hint by name either here or in the Birds, from fear of the violent measures which Alcibiades took against the comic poets. The instructions of Socrates teach Pheidippides not only to defraud his creditors, but also to beat his father, and disown the authority of the gods; and the play ends by the father's preparations to burn the philosopher and his whole establishment. The hint given towards the end, of the propriety of prosecuting him, was acted on twenty years afterwards, and Aristophanes was believed to have contributed to the death of Socrates, as the charges brought against him before the court of justice express the substance of those contained in the Clouds (Plat. Apol. Soc.). The Clouds, though perhaps its author's masterpiece, met with a complete failure in the contest for prizes, probably owing to the intrigues of Alcibiades; nor was it more successful when altered for a second representation, if indeed the alterations were ever completed, which Suvern denies. The play, as we have it, contains the parabasis of the second edition.
The Wasps is the pendant to the Knights. As in the one the poet had attacked the sovereign assembly, so here he aims his battery at the courts of justice, the other stronghold of party violence and the power of demagogues. This play furnished Racine with the idea of Les Plaideurs. The Peace is a return to the subject of the Acharnians, and points out forcibly the miseries of the Peloponnesian war, in order to stop which Trygaeus, the hero of the play, ascends to heaven on a dung-beetle's back, where he finds the god of war pounding the Greek states in a mortar. With the assistance of a large party of friends equally desirous to check this proceeding, he succeeds in dragging up Peace herself from a well in which she is imprisoned, and finally marries one of her attendant nymphs. The play is full of humour, but neither it nor the Wasps is among the poet's greater works.
Six years now elapse during which no plays are preserved to us. The object of the Amphiaraus and the Birds, which appeared after this interval, was to discourage the disastrous Sicilian expedition. The former was called after one of the seven chiefs against Thebes, remarkable for prophesying ill-luck to the expedition, and therein corresponding to Nicias. The object of the Birds has been a matter of much dispute; many persons, as for instance Schlegel, consider it a mere fanciful piece of buffoonery--a supposition hardly credible, when we remember that every one of the plays of Aristophanes has a distinct purpose connected with the history of the time. The question seems to have been set at rest by Suvern, whose theory, to say the least, is supported by the very strongest circumstantial evidence. The Birds--the Athenian people--are persuaded to build a city in the clouds by Peisthetaerus (a character combining traits of Aleibiades and Gorgias, mixed perhaps with some from other Sophists), and who is attended by a sort of Sancho Panza, one Euelpides, designed to represent the credulous young Athenians (euelpides, Thue. vi. 24). The city, to be called Nephelokokkugia (Cloudcuckootown), is to occupy the whole horizon, and to cut off the gods from all connexion with mankind, and even from the power of receiving sacrifices, so as to force them ultimately to surrender at discretion to the birds. All this scheme, and the details which fill it up, coincide admirably with the Sicilian expedition, which was designed not only to take possession of Sicily, but afterwards to conquer Carthage and Libya, and so, from the supremacy of the Mediterranean, to acquire that of the Peloponnesus, and reduce the Spartans, the gods of the play (Thuc. vi. 15; Plut. Nic. 12, Alc. 17). The plan succeeds; the gods send ambassadors to demand terms, and finally Peisthetaerus espouses Basileia, the daughter of Zeus. In no play does Aristophanes more indulge in the exuberance of wit and fancy than in this; and though we believe Siivern's account to be in the main correct, yet we must not suppose that the poet limits himself to this object: he keeps only generally to his allegory, often touching on other points, and sometimes indulging in pure humour; so that the play is not unlike the scheme of Gulliver's Travels.
The Lysistrata returns to the old subject of the Peloponnesian war, and here we find miseries described as existing which in the Acharnians and Peace had only been predicted. A treaty is finally represented as brought about in consequence of a civil war between the sexes. The Thesmophoriazusae is the first of the two great attacks on Euripides, and contains some inimitable parodies on his plays, especially the Andromeda, which had just appeared. It is almost wholly free from political allusions; the few which are found in it shew the attachment of the poet to the old democracy, and that, though a strong conservative, he was not an oligarchist. Both the Plutus and the Ecclesiazusae are designed to divert the prevailing mania for Dorian manners, the latter ridiculing the political theories of Plato, which were based on Spartan institutions. Between these two plays appeared the Frogs, in which Bacchus descends to Hades in search of a tragic poet,--those then alive being worthless,--and Aeschylus and Euripides contend for the prize of resuscitation. Euripides is at last dismissed by a parody on his own famous line he gloss' homomoch', he de phren anomotos (Hipp. 608), and Aeschylus accompanies Bacchus to Earth, the tragic throne in Hades being given to Sophocles during his absence. Among the lost plays, the Nedoi and Georgoi were apparently on the subject of the much desired Peace, the former setting forth the evils which the islands and subject states, the latter those which the freemen of Attica, endured from the war. The Triphales seems to have been an attack on Alcibiades, in reference probably to his mutilation of the Hermes Busts; and in the Gerutades certain poets, pale, haggard votaries of the Sophists,-- Sannyrion as the representative of comedy, Melitus of tragedy, and Cinesias of the cyclic writers, visit their brethren in Hades. The Geras appears from the analysis of its fragments by Suvern, to have been named from a chorus of old men, who are supposed to have cast off their old age as serpents do their skin, and therefore probably to have been a representation of vicious dotage similar to that in the Knights. From a fragment in Bekker's Anecdota it is probable that it was the 9th of the Aristophanic comedies.
Suidas tells us, that Aristophanes was the author, in all, of 54 plays. We have hitherto considered him only in his historical and political character, nor can his merits as a poet and humorist be understood without an actual study of his works. We have no means of comparing him with his rivals Eupolis and Cratinus (Hor. Sat. i. 4. 1), though he is said to have tempered their bitterness, and given to comedy additional grace, but to have been surpassed by Eupolis in the conduct of his plots. Plato called the soul of Aristophanes a temple for the Graces, and has introduced him into his Symposium. His works contain snatches of lyric poetry which are quite noble, and some of his chorusses, particularly one in the Knights, in which the horses are represented as rowing triremes in an expedition against Corinth, are written with a spirit and humour unrivalled in Greek, and are not very dissimilar to English ballads. He was a complete master of the Attic dialect, and in his hands the perfection of that glorious instrument of thought is wonderfully shewn. No flights are too bold for the range of his fancy : animals of every kind are pressed into his service; frogs chaunt chorusses, a dog is tried for stealing a cheese, and an iambic verse is composed of the grunts of a pig. Words are invented of a length which must have made the speaker breathless,--the Ecclesiazusae closes with one of 170 letters. The gods are introduced in the most ludicrous positions, and it is certainly incomprehensible how a writer who represents them in such a light, could feel so great indignation against those who were suspected of a design to shake the popular faith in them. To say that his plays are defiled by coarseness and indecency, is only to state that they were comedies, and written by a Greek who was not superior to the universal feeling of his age.
The first edition of Aristophanes was that of Aldus, Venice, 1498, which was published without the Lysistrata and Thesmophoriazusae. That of Bekker, 5 vols. 8vo., London, 1829, contains a text founded on the collation of two MSS. from Ravenna and Venice, unknown to former editors. It also has the valuable Scholia, a Latin version, and a large collection of notes. There are editions by Bothc, Kuster, and Dindorf : of the Acharnians, Knights, Wasps, Clouds, and Frogs, by Mitchell, with English notes (who has also translated the first three into English verse), and of the Birds and Plutus by Cookesley, also with English notes. There are many translations of single plays into English, and of all into German by Voss (Brunswick, 1821), and Droysen (Berlin, 1835--1838). Wieland also translated the Acharnians, Knights, Clouds, and Birds; and Welcker the Clouds and Frogs.
The Lysistrata of Aristophanes
The most remarkable of Aristophanes' comedies are those in which the main characters, the heros of the story as it were, are women, who use their wits and their solidarity with one another to compel the men of Athens to overthrow basic policies of the city-state. Most famous of Aristophanes' comedies depicting powerfully effectual women is the Lysistrata of 411 B.C., named after the female lead character of the play. It portrays the women of Athens as teaming up with the women of Sparta to force their husbands to end the Peloponnesian War. To make the men agree to a peace treaty, the women first seize the Acropolis, where Athens' financial reserves are kept, and prevent the men from squandering them further on the war. They then beat back an attack on their position by the old men who have remained in Athens while the younger men are out on campaign. When their husbands return from battle, the women refuse to have sex with them. This sex strike, which is portrayed in a series of risque episodes, finally coerces the men of Athens and Sparta to agree to a peace treaty.
The Lysistrata presents women acting bravely and aggressively against men who seem bent both on destroying their family life by staying away from home for long stretches while on military campaign and on ruining the city-state by prolonging a pointless war. In other words, the play's powerful women take on masculine roles to preserve the traditional way of life of the community. Lysistrata herself emphasizes this point in the very speech in which she insists that women have the intelligence and judgment to make political decisions. She came by her knowledge, she says, in the traditional way: "I am a woman, and, yes, I have brains. And I'm not badly off for judgment. Nor has my education been bad, coming as it has from my listening often to the conversations of my father and the elders among the men". Lysistrata was schooled in the traditional fashion, by learning from older men. Her old-fashioned training and good sense allowed her to see what needed to be done to protect the community. Like the heroines of tragedy, Lysistrata is literally a reactionary; she wants to put things back the way they were. To do that, however, she has to act like a revolutionary. Ending the war would be so easy that women could do it, Aristophanes is telling Athenian men, and Athenians should concern themselves with preserving the old ways, lest they be lost.
This text is from: Thomas Martin's An Overview of Classical Greek History from Homer to Alexander, Yale University Press. Cited June 2005 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Aristophanes on Socrates
The feeling that Socrates could be a danger to conventional society gave the comic playwright Aristophanes the inspiration for his comedy Clouds of 423 B.C., so named from the role played by the chorus. In the play Socrates is presented as a cynical sophist who, for a fee, offers instruction in the Protagorean technique of making the weaker argument the stronger. When the protagonist's son is transformed by Socrates's instruction into a rhetorician able to argue that a son has the right to beat his parents, the protagonist ends the comedy by burning down Socrates's Thinking Shop, as it is called in the play.
ACROPOLIS (Acropolis) ATHENS
Ictinus (Iktinos). One of the most famous architects of Greece; he flourished in the second half of the fifth century B.C., and was a contemporary of Pericles and Phidias. His most famous works were the Parthenon on the Acropolis at Athens, and the temple of Apollo at Bassae, near Phigalia in Arcadia. Of both these edifices important remains are in existence. Most of the columns of the temple at Bassae are still standing. In the judgment of the ancients, it was the most beautiful temple in the Peloponnesus, after the temple of Athene at Tegea, which was the work of Scopas (Pausan. viii. 41. 8).
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited June 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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