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Materia Medica. Some persons have supposed that Cratevas lived in the fifth and fourth centu ries b. c., because one of the spurious letters that go under the name of Hippocrates (Hippocr. Opera, vol. iii. p. 790) is addressed to a person of that name; but as no mention of the contempo rary of Hippocrates is found in any other passage, these spurious letters are hardly sufficient to prove his existence. [W. A. G.j
CRATINUS (Kpar?vos), Comic poets. 1. 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 Cra-tinus 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 YLvrivrj (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 nvTivr) 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 06' oi acxkw-vc-s evteaXov. (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 (/. c.) that Cratinus lived 97 years. Thus his birth would fall in b. c. 519.
If we may trust the grammarians and chrono-graphers, 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. 4-49—448. We can therefore have no hesitation in preferring the date of Eusebius (Chron. s. a. 01. 81. 3; Syncell. p. 339), .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 ^u\tj Olvrjis. (Suid. s. vv. Kpartvos, 3Eir€iou SetAorepos.) 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 (Acliarn. 849, 850) which refers to another Cratinus, a lyric poet. (Schol. I. 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 Hvrij/r}. (See further on this point Meineke, Hist. Grit. Com. Graec. pp. 47—49.)
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. p. xxxii.) 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. p. xxvii.; Christodor. EcpJirasis, v. 357 ; Persius, Sat. i. 123.) Still, like Aristophanes with respect to Sophocles, he sometimes bestowed the highest praise, as upon Cimon. (Plut. Gim. 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. p. 110, b.) This flourishing period lasted from the establishment of the Athenian power after the Persian war down to the end of the Pelo-ponnesian 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