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Biographies (21)

Poets

Herondas, 3rd cent. BC

   or Herodas. A Greek writer of iambics, who lived probably at Cos in the third century B.C., and of whose verses little was known before the recent discovery among the papyri in the British Museum of a MS. containing [p. 807] seven poems. Previous to this discovery there existed only ten quotations from him (one in iambic dimeter and nine in choliambics), five of which are found in the British Museum MS., and served to identify the author, as his name is not there given. These seven complete poems contain from 85 to 129 lines apiece, and are entitled (1) Prokuklis e Mastropos, "The Matchmaker or the Go-between;" (2) Pornoboskos, "The Pimp;" (3) Didaskalos, "The Schoolmaster;" (4) Asklepioi anatitheisai kai thusiazousai, "A Visit to Asclepius;" (5) Zelotupos, "The Jealous Woman;" (6) Philiazousai e Idiazousai, "Affectionate Friends, or the Confidantes;" (7) Skuteus(?), "The Cobbler." The titles of two more poems are found in the MS.--Enupnion, "The Dream;" and Aponestizomenai, "Ladies at Breakfast." The poems are difficult to read, abounding in words found hitherto only in Hesychius, and containing some that are entirely unknown. Many of these strange vocables are probably the result of copyists' errors, having been written in Egypt whence the MS. came, while others are doubtless colloquialisms.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


A Hellenistic Bibliography: Herodas

This file forms part of A Hellenistic Bibliography, a bibliography on post-classical Greek poetry and its influence, accessible through the website of the department of Classics of the University of Leiden.
The file contains ca. 450 titles on Herodas; it has two sections:
Essentials (editions, etc.)
All titles (by year/author).
Compiled and maintained by Martijn Cuypers
Last updated: 3 july 2002


Philetas, Elegiac Poet

   Near the end of the fourth century B.C., Philetas of Cos, celebrated as a poet by Theocritus and Propertius, wrote a famous book, atakta or glossai, on the meanings of words, especially of poetical and dialectic forms.

This extract is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



Daphnis & Chloe. Philetas teaches Daphnis and Chloe about love and how to enjoy the beauties of it.


Philetas and the Liar Paradox
An ancient gravestone on the Greek Island of Cos was reported by Athenaeus to contain this poem about the difficulty of solving the paradox:
O Stranger: Philetas of Cos am I, 'Twas the Liar who made me die, And the bad nights caused thereby'.


Bittis, a woman beloved by the poet Philetas of Cos. His elegies, chiefly of an amatory nature and singing the praises of his mistress Battis (or Bittis), were much admired by the Romans.


   Glossa . . .The word underwent a gradual development of meaning, which may be described with brevity. By the earliest Greek commentators and editors of texts, glossa denoted any word in an author that required definition or explanation. Such were (a) archaisms; (b) hapax legomena and newly-coined words; (c) provincialisms; (d) barbarisms; and (e) technical terms. In editing or transcribing a text it was usual for the editor or transcriber to define the glossa by writing opposite to it in the margin the more familiar synonym (onoma kurion). The term glossa soon came to be applied to the pair of words--the word in the text and the definition in the margin--the two being regarded as constituting a single whole. Finally, the explanation alone was called a glossa. With these glosses begins the history of lexicography; for collections of them began to be made, and published separately as glossaria or glossaries. Such was the compilation of the elegiac poet Philetas of Cos, whose collection was the first attempt at an Homeric glossary . .

This extract is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


A Hellenistic Bibliography: Philetas

This file forms part of A Hellenistic Bibliography, a bibliography on post-classical Greek poetry and its influence, accessible through the website of the department of Classics of the University of Leiden.
The file contains ca. 40 titles on Philetas, arranged by year/author.
Compiled and maintained by Martijn Cuypers
Last updated: 3 july 2002


Simonides, of Ceos


Ancient comedy playwrites

Epicharmos, Epicharmus

, , 550 - 460

   Epicharmus, (Epicharmos). The first Greek comic writer of whom we have any definite account. He was a Syracusan, either by birth or emigration. Some writers make him a native of the island of Cos, but all agree that he passed his life at Syracuse. It was about B.C. 500, thirty-five years after Thespis began to exhibit, eleven years after the commencement of Phrynichus, and just before the appearance of Aeschylus as a tragedian, that Epicharmus produced the first comedy properly so called. Before him, this department of the drama was little more than a series of licentious songs and sarcastic episodes, without plot, connection, or consistency. He gave to each exhibition continuity, and converted the loose interlocutions into regular dialogue. The subjects of his Doric comedies, as we may infer from the extant titles of thirty-five of them, were partly parodies of mythological subjects, and, as such, not very different from the dialogue of the satyric drama, and partly political, and in this respect may have furnished a model for the dialogue of the Athenian comedy. Tragedy had, some years before the era of Epicharmus, begun to assume its dignified character. The woes of heroes and the majesty of the gods had, under Phrynicus, become its favourite themes. The Sicilian poet seems to have been struck with the idea of exciting the mirth of his audience by the exhibition of some ludicrous matter dressed up in all the grave solemnity of the newly invented art. Discarding, therefore, the low drolleries and scurrilous invectives of the ancient komoidia, he opened a novel and less objectionable source of amusement by composing a set of burlesque dramas upon the usual tragic subjects. They succeeded, and the turn thus given to comedy long continued; so that when it once more returned to personality and satire, as it afterwards did, tragedy and tragic poets were the constant objects of its parody and ridicule. The great changes thus effected by Epicharmus justly entitled him to be called the Inventor of Comedy, though it is probable that Phormis or Phormus preceded him by a few Olympiads. But his merits do not rest here: he was distinguished for elegance of composition as well as originality of conception. Demetrius Phalereus says that Epicharmus excelled in the choice and collocation of epithets, on which account the name of Epicharmios was given to his kind of style, making it proverbial for elegance and beauty. So many were his dramatic excellences that Plato terms him the king of comic writers, and in a later age and foreign country Plautus chose him as his model and is thought to have borrowed from him the plot of the Menaechmi. The parasite who figures so greatly in the plays of the New Comedy and in those of Plautus was first brought upon the stage by Epicharmus.
    The plays of Epicharmus, to judge from the fragments still left us, abounded in apophthegms, little consistent with the ideas we might otherwise have entertained of their nature from our knowledge of the buffooneries whence his comedy sprang and of the writings of Aristophanes, his partially extant successor. Epicharmus, however, was a philosopher and a Pythagorean. We find Epicharmus still composing comedies B.C. 485, and again during the reign of Hiero, B.C. 477. He died at the age of ninety or ninety-seven years. Epicharmus is said by some authorities to have added the letters x, e, ps, o to the Greek alphabet, but inscriptions show that these characters were in use at Miletus half a century before his reputed birth.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Epicharmus, (Epicharmos), the chief comic poet among the Dorians, was born in the island of Cos about the 60th Olympiad (B. C. 540). His father, Elothales, was a physician, of the race of the Asclepiads, and the profession of medicine seems to have been followed for some time by Epicharmus himself, as well as by his brother.
  At the age of three months he was carried to Megara, in Sicily; or, according to the account preserved by Suidas, he went thither at a much later period, with Cadmus (B. C. 484). Thence he removed to Syracuse, with the other inhabitants of Megara, when the latter city was destroyed by Gelon (B. C. 484 or 483). Here he spent the remainder of his life, which was prolonged throughout the reign of Hieron, at whose court Epicharmus associated with the other great writers of the time, and among them, with Aeschylus, who seems to have had some influence on his dramatic course. He died at the age of ninety (B. C. 450), or, ac cording to Lucian, ninety-seven (B. C. 443). The city of Syracuse erected a statue to him, the inscription on which is preserved by Diogenes Laertius. (Diog. Laert. viii. 78; Suid. s. v. ; Lucian, Macrob. 25; Aelian, V. H. ii. 34; Plut. Moral.; Marmor Parium, No. 55.)
  In order to understand the relation of Epicharmus to the early comic poetry, it must be remembered that Megara, in Sicily, was a colony from Megara on the Isthmus, the inhabitants of which disputed with the Athenians the invention of comedy, and where, at all events, a kind of comedy was known as early as the beginning of the sixth century B. C. This comedy (whether it was lyric or also dramatic, which is a doubtful point) was of course found by Epicharmus existing at the Sicilian Megara; and he, together with Phonnis, gave it a new form, which Aristotle describes by the words to muthous poiein (Poet. 6 or 5, ed. Ritter), a phrase which some take to mean comedies with a regular plot; and others, comedies on mythological subjects. The latter seems to be the better interpretation; but either explanation establishes a clear distinction between the comedy of Epicharmus and that of Megara, which seems to have been little more than a sort of low buffoonery.
  With respect to the time when Epicharmus began to compose comedies, much confusion has arisen from the statement of Aristotle (or an interpolator), that Epicharmus lived long before Chionides. We have, however, the express and concurrent testimonies of the anonymous writer On Comedy (p. xxviii.), that he flourished about the 73rd Olympiad, and of Suidas (s. v.), that he wrote six years before the Persian war (B. C. 485-4). Thus it appears that, like Cratinus, he was an old man before he began to write comedy; and this agrees well with the fact that his poetry was of a very philosophic character. (Anon. de Com. l. c.) The only one of his plays, the date of which is certainly known, is the Nasoi, B. C. 477. (Schol. Pind. Pyth. i. 98; Clinton, sub ann.) We have also express testimony of the fact that Elothales, the father of Epicharmus, formed an acquaintance with Pythagoras, and that Epicharmus himself was a pupil of that great philosopher. (Diog. Laert. l. c.; Suid. s. v.; Plut. Numa, 8.) We may therefore consider the life of Epicharmus as divisible into two parts, namely, his life at Megara up to B. C. 484, during which he was engaged in the study of philosophy, both physical and metaphysical, and the remainder of his life, which he spent at Syracuse, as a comic poet. The question respecting the identity of Epicharmus the comedian and Epicharmus the Pythagorean philosopher, about which some writers, both ancient and modern, have been in doubt, may now be considered as settled in the affirmative. (Menag. ad Laert. l. c.; Perizon. ad Aelian. V. H. ii. 34; Clinton, Fast. Hell. vol. ii. Introd.)
  The number of the comedies of Epicharmus is differently stated at 52 or at 35. There are still extant 35 titles, of which 26 are preserved by Athenaeus. The majority of them are on mythological subjects, that is, travesties of the heroic myths, and these plays no doubt very much resembled the satyric drama of the Athenians. The following are their titles:--Alkuon, Amukos, Bakchai, Bousiris, Deukalion, Dionusoi, Ebes gamos, Ephaistos e Komastai, Kuklops, Logos kai Logeina, Odusseus automolos, Odusseus nauagos, Seipenes, Skiron, Sphige, Troes, Philoktetes. But besides mythology, Epicharmus wrote on other subjects, political, moral, relating to manners and customs, and, it would seem, even to personal character; those, however, of his comedies which belong to the last lead are rather general than individual, and resembled the subjects treated by the writers of the new comedy, so that when the ancient writers enumerated him among the poets of the old comedy, they must be understood as referring rather to his antiquity in point of time than to any close resemblance between his works and those of the old Attic comedians. In fact, we have a proof in the case of Crates that even among the Athenians, after the establishment of the genuine old comedy by Cratinus, the mythological comedy still maintained its ground. The plays of Epicharmus, which were not on mythological subjects, were the following:--Agrostinos (Sicilian Greek for Alroikos), Harpagai, Ga kai Thalassa, Diphilos, Elpis e Ploutos, Heorta kai Nasoi Epinikios, Herakleitos, Thearoi, Megaris, Menes, Orua, Periallos, Persai, Pithon, Triakades, Choreuontes, Chutrai. A considerable number of fragments of the above plays are preserved, but those of which we can form the clearest notion from the extant fragments are the Marriage of Hebe, and Hephaestus or the Revellers. Miller has observed that the painted vases of lower Italy often enable us to gain a complete and vivid idea of those theatrical representations of which the plays of Epicharmus are the type.
  The style of his plays appears to have been a curious mixture of the broad buffoonery which distinguished the old Megarian comedly, and of the sententious wisdom of the Pythagorean philosopher His language was remarkably elegant: he was celebrated for his choice of epithets: his plays abounded, as the extant fragments prove, with gnomai, or philosophical and moral maxims, and long speculative discourses, on the instinct of animals for example. Muller observes that "if the elements of his drama, which we have discovered singly, were in his plays combined, he must have set out with an elevated and philosophical view, which enabled him to satirize mankind without disturbing the calmness and tranquillity of his thoughts; while at the same time his scenes of common life were marked with the acute and penetrating genius which characterized the Sicilians." In proof of the high estimate in which he was held by the ancients, it may be enough to refer to the notices of him by Plato (Theact.) and Cicero. (Tusc. i. 8, ad Att. i. 19.) It is singular, however, that Epicharmus had no successor in his peculiar style of comedy, except his son or disciple Deinolochus. He had, however, distinguished imitators in other times and countries. Some writers, making too much of a few words of Aristotle, would trace the origin of the Attic comedy to Epicharmus; but it can hardly be doubted that Crates, at least, was his imitator. That Plautus imitated him is expressly stated by Horace (Epist. ii. 1.58),--
"Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi."
  The parasite, who forms so conspicuous a character in the plays of the new comedy, is first found in Epicharmus.
  The formal peculiarities of the dramas of Epicharmus cannot be noticed here at any length. His ordinary metre was the lively Trochaic Tetrameter, but he also used the Iambie and Anapaestic metres. The questions respecting his scenes, number of actors, and chorus, are fully treated in the work of Grysar.
  Some writers attribute to Epicharmus separate philosophical poems; but there is little doubt that the passages referred to are extracts from his comedies. Some of the ancient writers ascribed to Epicharmus the invention of some or all of those letters of the Greek alphabet, which were usually attributed to Palamedes and Simonides.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  In his Lives of the Philosophers Diogenes Laertius has left us a short biography of Epicharmus, but as he treats him purely as one of the 'philosophic family' and disdained to mention his dramatic writings, we would known nothing about the great contributions made to dramatic literature by him were it not for Suidas. From his short bu invaluable notice we learn that Epicharmus was the son of Elotheles, a physician of Cos, in which island his famous son was born in about 540 B.C., and whence when but three months old he passed with his father to Sicilian Megara. But his father belonged to the Asclepiad clan, and as the Asclepiads were certainly not Dorians, neither can that race in general nor the Hyblaean Magarians in particular claim him as their own. When the boy grew to man's estate, he embraced the tenets of Pythagoras and made Syracuse the scene of his life's work. He wrote on Natural Science, Philosophy, and Medicine; he composed gnomes and left also a series of memoirs when he died at the age of ninety. As a dramatist he was no less active, since he wrote fifty-two comedies or according to others thirty-five. In these plays Comedy for the first time took formal shape, since he and his contemporary Phormis were the first to use plots (muthoi) and regular dialogues. His compositions, however, were simply burlesques on the heroic themes which formed the usual subjects of the tragic performances of the time.
  The most famous of his plays was the Marriage of Hebe to Hercules, in which that hero was degraded for the first time by being represented as a glutton. Dr. Mahaffy is probably right in holding that the degradation in Greek literature of Odysseus, Agamemnon and Menelaus may also have been due to Epicharmus. In a certain sense, therefore, he may be regarded as the Cervantes of Greece, for as the latter laughed mediaeval chivalry to death, so Epicharmus was the first to make the great ones of the Heroic Age the butts of popular ridicule. But as Epicharmus is said to have created the character of the conventional parasite in his Elpis, he was also the founder of the comedy of manners as well as of the burlesque. The date of his dramatic activity is well ascertained, for as he was in high favor with Gelon (485-478 B.C.) and with his brother and successor Hieron (478-467 B.C.), there seems no doubt that his dramatic activity should be placed between 485 and 467 B.C. But, as we shall soon find that his fellow dramatist Phormis was at work in the reign of Gelon, we may place the date of the birth of true Comedy in the reign of that monarch (485-478 B.C.). As Epicharmus was born about 540 B.C., and lived to be ninety, his death may be placed about 450 B.C., a date which tallies well with a statement respecting an attack made on him by Magnes the Attic comedian, then a young man.

Alfred Bates, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the TheatreHistory URL below.


   Comoedia, (komoidia). The Greek comedy, like the Greek tragedy and satyric drama, had its origin in the festivals of Dionysus. As its name, komoidia, or the song of the komos, implies, it arose from the unrestrained singing and jesting common in the komos, or merry procession of Dionysus. According to the tradition, it was the Doric inhabitants of Megara, well known for their love of fun, who first worked up these jokes into a kind of farce. The inhabitants of Megara accordingly boasted that they were the founders of Greek comedy. From Megara, it was supposed, the popular farce found its way to the other Dorian communities, and one Susarion was said to have transplanted it to the Attic deme of Icaria about B.C. 580. No further information is in existence as to the nature of the Megarian or Dorian popular comedy.    The local Doric farce was developed into literary form in Sicily by Epicharmus of Cos (about B.C. 540-450). This writer gave a comic treatment not only to mythology, but to subjects taken from real life.

This extract is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks





Painters

Apelles (c 352 - 308 BC)

Apelles, the most celebrated of Grecian painters, was born, most probably, at Colophon in Ionia (Suidas, s. v.), though Pliny (xxxv. 36.10) and Ovid (Art. Am. iii. 401; Pont. iv. 1. 29) call him a Coan. The account of Strabo (xiv.) and Lucian (De Calumn. lix.2, 6), that he was an Ephesian, may be explained from the statements of Suidas, that he was made a citizen at Ephesus, and that he studied painting there under Ephorus. He afterwards studied under Pamphilus of Amphipolis, to whom he paid the fee of a talent for a ten-years' course of instruction (Suidas, s. v.; Plin. xxxv. 36.8). At a later period, when he had already gained a high reputation, he went to Sicyon, and again paid a talent for admission into the school of Melanthius, whom he assisted in his portrait of the tyrant Aristratus (Plut. Arat. 13). By this course of study he acquired the scientific accuracy of the Sicyonian school, as well as the elegance of the Ionic...
GTP-remarks:
More about Apelles at Ancient Colophon


Aphrodite Anadyomene

Anadyomene (Anaduomene), the goddess rising out of the sea, a surname given to Aphrodite, in allusion to the story of her being born from the foam of the sea. This surname had not much celebrity previous to the time of Apelles, but his famous painting of Aphrodite Anadyomene, in which the goddess was represented as rising from the sea and drying her hair with her hands, at once drew great attention to this poetical idea, and excited the emulation of other artists, painters as well as sculptors. The painting of Apelles was made for the inhabitants of the island of Cos, who set it up in their temple of Asclepius. Its beauty induced Augustus to have it removed to Rome, and the Coans were indemnified by a reduction in their taxes of 100 talents. In the time of Nero the greater part of the picture had become effaced, and it was replaced by the work of another artist. (Strab. xiv.; Plin. H. N. xxxv. 36.12. and 15; Auson. Ep. 106; Paus. ii. 1.7)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Historic figures

Ptolemaeus Philadelphus, king of Egypt

   The son of Ptolemy I. by his wife Berenice, was born in the island of Cos, 309.
His long reign was marked by few events of a striking character. He was engaged in war with his half-brother Magas, who had governed Cyrene as viceroy under Ptolemy Soter, but on the death of that monarch not only asserted his independence, but even attempted to invade Egypt. Magas was supported by Antiochus II., king of Syria; and the war was at length terminated by a treaty, which left Magas in undisputed possession of the Cyrenaica, while his infant daughter Berenice was betrothed to Ptolemy, the son of Philadelphus. Ptolemy also concluded a treaty with the Romans. He was frequently engaged in hostilities with Syria, which were terminated towards the close of his reign by a treaty of peace, by which Ptolemy gave his daughter Berenice in marriage to Antiochus II. Ptolemy's chief care, however, was directed to the internal administration of his kingdom, and to the patronage of literature and science. The institutions of which the foundations had been laid by his father quickly rose under his fostering care to the highest prosperity. The Museum of Alexandria became the resort and abode of all the most distinguished men of letters of the day, and in the library attached to it were accumulated all the treasures of ancient learning. Among the other illustrious names which adorned the reign of Ptolemy may be mentioned those of the poets Philetas and Theocritus, the philosophers Hegesias and Theodorus, the mathematician Euclid, and the astronomers Timocharis, Aristarchus of Samos, and Aratus. Nor was his patronage confined to the ordinary cycle of Hellenic literature. By his interest in natural history he gave a stimulus to the pursuit of that science, which gave birth to many important works, while he himself formed collections of rare animals within the precincts of the royal palace. It was during his reign also, and perhaps at his desire, that Manetho gave to the world in a Greek form the historical records of the Egyptians; and according to a well-known tradition it was by his express command that the Holy Scriptures of the Jews were translated into Greek. The new cities or colonies founded by Philadelphus in different parts of his dominions were extremely numerous. On the Red Sea alone we find at least two bearing the name of Arsinoe, one called after another of his sisters Philotera, and two cities named in honour of his mother Berenice. The same names occur also in Cilicia and Syria: and in the latter country he founded the important fortress of Ptolemais in Palestine. All authorities concur in attesting the great power and wealth to which the Egyptian monarchy was raised under Philadelphus. He possessed at the close of his reign a standing army of 200,000 foot and 40,000 horse, besides war-chariots and elephants, a fleet of 1500 ships, and a sum of 740,000 talents in his treasury; while he derived from Egypt alone an annual revenue of 14,800 talents. His dominions comprised, besides Egypt itself, and portions of Aethiopia, Arabia, and Libya, the important provinces of Ph?nicia and Coele-Syria, together with Cyprus, Lycia, Caria, and the Cyclades, and during a great part at least of his reign Cilicia and Pamphylia also. Before his death Cyrene was reunited to the monarchy by the marriage of his son Ptolemy with Berenice, the daughter of Magas. The private life and relations of Philadelphus do not exhibit his character in as favourable a light as we might have inferred from the splendour of his administration. He put to death two of his brothers; and he banished his first wife Arsinoe, the daughter of Lysimachus, to Coptos in Upper Egypt on a charge of conspiracy. After her removal Ptolemy married his own sister Arsinoe, the widow of Lysimachus, a flagrant violation of the religious notions of the Greeks, but one which was frequently imitated by his successors. He evinced his affection for Arsinoe not only by bestowing her name upon many of his newly-founded colonies, but by assuming himself the surname of Philadelphus, a title which some writers referred in derision to his unnatural treatment of his two brothers. By this second marriage Ptolemy had no issue: but his first wife had borne him two sons--Ptolemy, who succeeded him on the throne, and Lysimachus; and a daughter, Berenice, whose marriage to Antiochus II., king of Syria, has been already mentioned.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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