The Ancient Library

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On this page: Agathon – Agathosthenes – Agathotychusca – Agathyllus – Agathyrnus – Agave


he was a little above thirty years of age: in honour of which Plato represents the Symposium, or ban­quet, to have been given, which he has made the occasion of his dialogue so called. The scene is laid at Agathon's house, and amongst the interlo­cutors are, Apollodorus, Socrates, Aristophanes, Diotima, and Alcibiades. Plato was then fourteen years of age, and a spectator at the tragic contest, in which Agathon was victorious. (Athen. v. p. 217, a.) When Agathon was about forty years of age (b. c. 407), he visited the court of Archelaus, the king of Macedonia (Aelian, V. H. xiii. 4), where his old friend Euripides was also a guest at the same time. From the expression in the Ranae (83), that he was gone ks }j.a.Kdp<av eucoxtW, nothing certain can be determined as to the time of his death. The phrase admits of two meanings, either that he was then residing at the court of Archelaus, or that he was dead. The former, however, is the more probable interpretation. (Clinton, Fast. Hell. vol. ii. p. xxxii.) He is generally supposed to have died about b. c. 400, at the age of forty-seven. (Bode, Geschichte der dram. Dichtleunst., i. p. 553.) The poetic merits of Agathon were con­siderable, but his compositions were more remark­able for elegance and flowery ornaments than force, vigour, or sublimity. They abounded in anti­thesis and metaphor, " with cheerful thoughts and kindly images," (Aelian, V. H. xiv. 13,) and he is said to have imitated in verse the prose of Gor-gias the philosopher. The language which Plato puts into his mouth in the Symposium, is of the same character, full of harmonious words and softly flowing periods : an eAafau pey^ta wtyofyyrl piovros. The style of his verses, and especially of his lyrical compositions, is represented by Aristophanes in his Thesmophoriazusae (191) as affected and effemi­nate, corresponding with his personal appearance and manner. In that play (acted b. c. 409), where he appears as the friend of Euripides, he is ridiculed for his effeminacy, both in manners and actions, being brought on the stage in female dress. In the Ranae, acted five years afterwards, Aristophanes speaks highly of him as a poet and a man, calling him an dyaOos iroirjrrjs /cat iroQeivos rots tf>(\ois. In the Thesmophoriazusae (29) also, he calls him *AydQuv 6 KAetz/o's. In some respects, Agathon was instrumental in causing the decline of tragedy at Athens. Pie was the first tragic poet, according to Aristotle (Poet. 18. § 22), who commenced the practice of inserting choruses between the acts, the subject-matter of which was unconnected with the story of the drama, and which were therefore called e^go'A^ta, or intercalary, as being merely lyrical or musical interludes. The same critic (Pott. 18. § 17) also blames him for selecting too extensive subjects for his tragedies. Agathon also wrote pieces, the story and characters of which were the creations of pure fiction. One of these was called the " Flower" ("Az/flos, Arist. Poet. 9. § 7); its subject-matter was neither mythical nor historical, and therefore probably " neither seriously affecting, nor terrible." (Schlegel, Dram. Lit. i. p. 189.) We cannot but regret the loss of this work, which must have been amusing and original. The titles of four only of his tragedies are known with certainty: they are, the Thyestes, the Tele-phus, the- Aerope, and the Alcmaeon. A fifth, which is ascribed to him, is of doubtful authority. It is probable that Aristophanes has given us extracts from some of Agathon's plays in the


Thesmophoriazusae, v. 100-130. The opinion that Agathon also wrote comedies, or that there was a comic writer of this name, has been refuted by Bentley, in his Dissertation upon the Epistles of Euripides, p. 417. (Ritschl, Commentatio de Aga- thonis vita,) Arte et Tragoediarum reliquiis^ Halae, 1829, 8vo.) [R. W.]

AGATHON £A7e*0«i/), of Samos, who wrote a work upon Scythia and another upon Rivers. (Plut. de Fluv. p. 1156, e. 1159, a; Stobaeus, Serm. tit. 100. 10, ed. Gaisford.)

AGATHON ('AydSw), at first Reader, after­ wards Librarian, at Constantinople. In A. d. 680, during his Readership, he was Notary or Re­ porter at the 6th General Council, which con­ demned the Monothelite heresy. He sent copies of the acts, written by himself, to the five Patri­ archates. He wrote, a. d. 712, a short treatise, still extant in Greek, on the attempts of Philip- picus Bardanes (711—713) to revive the Mono­ thelite error, Conciliorum Nova Collectio a Mcmsi9 vol. xii. p. 189. [A. J. C.]

AGATHOSTHENES ('A.yaOo<T9tvns), a Greek historian or philosopher of uncertain date, who is referred to by Tzetzes (ad Lycophr. 704, 1021. Chil. vii. 645) as his authority in matters connect­ed with geography. There is mention of a work of Agathosthenes called " Asiatica Carmina" (Germanicus, in Arat. Phaen. 24), where Gale (Notae in Parthen. p. 125, &c.) wished to read the name Aglaosthenes ; for Aglaosthenes or Aglos-thenes, who is by some considered to be the same as Agathosthenes, wrote a work on the history of Naxos, of which nothing is extant, but which was much used by ancient writers. (Hygin. Poet. A sir. ii, 16 ; Eratosth. Catast. ii. 27 ; Pollux, ix. 83 ; Athen. iii. p. 78 ; Plin. H. N. iv. 22.) [L. S.J

AGATHOTYCHUSCAyae^Tuxos), an ancient veterinary surgeon, whose date and history are un­ known, but who probably lived in the fourth or fifth century after Christ. Some fragments of his writings are to be found in the collection of works on this subject first published in a Latin translation by Jo. Ruellius, Veterinariae Medicinae Libri duo, Paris. 1530, fol., and afterwards in Greek by Grynaeus, Basil. 1537, 4to. [W. A. G.]

AGATHYLLUS ('Ayddv\\os), of Arcadia, a Greek elegiac poet, who is quoted by Dionysius in reference to the history of Aeneas and the foun­dation of Rome. Some of his verses are preserved by Dionysius. (i. 49, 72.)

AGATHYRNUS (Aydevpvos), a son of Aeolus, regarded as the founder of Agathyrnum in Sicily. (Diod. v. 8.) [L. S.]

AGAVE ('A7aujf). 1. A daughter of Cadmus, and wife of the Spartan Echion, by whom she became the mother of Pentheus, who succeeded his grandfather Cadmus as king of Thebes. Agave was the sister of Autonoe, Ino, and Semele (Apol-lod. iii. 4. § 2), and when Semele, during her pregnancy with Dionysus, was destroyed by the sight of the splendour of Zeus, her sisters spread the report that she had only endeavoured to con­ceal her guilt, by pretending that Zeus was the father of her child, and that her destruction was a just punishment for her falsehood. This calumny was afterwards most severely avenged upon Agave. For, after Dionysus, the son of Semele, had tra­versed the world, he came to Thebes and compelled the women to celebrate his Dionysiac festivals on mount Cithaeron, Pentheus wishing to prevent

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