The Ancient Library

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was made prohibiting the comic poets from holding a living person up to ridicule by bringing him on the stage by name (^<picr/j.a rov /xr) Kca/j-qSeiv ovopaffri, Schol. Arist. Aclmrn. 67 ; Meineke, Hist. Grit. p. 40). This law remained in force for the two following years, and was annulled in the archonship of Euthymenes. (b. c. 437— i36.) Another restriction, which probably belongs to about the same time, was the law that no Areopa-gite should write comedies. (Pint. Bell, cm Pac. praest. Atli. p. 348, c.) ' 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, ^ Koejji.cpo'GiorOat ovo^a,ffri Ttva, 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. Acliarn. 1149; Meineke, p. 41.) 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 Gleoplion 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 ''O^vcrcreis^ 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 Agyrrhius3 and was succeeded by the Middle Comedy (about b.c. 393—392 ; Meineke, pp. 42, 43).

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. p. xxxii.) On the other hand, however, Aristotle says, that no one knew who made this and other such changes. (Po'vc. v.

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. p. xxix.) 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 Kniglits 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 oS' 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, I. 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 ravp-j-ty&yov (Ran. 357 ; comp. Etym. Mag. p. 747, 50 ; Apollon. Lex. Horn. p. 156, 20.) His metres seem to have partaken of the same lofty character. He sometimes used the epic verse. The " Crati-nean metre" of the grammarians, however, was in use before his time. [tolynus.] 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, I.e.; Bergk, p. 156.) His most formidable rival was Aristophanes. (See, besides numerous pas­sages of Aristophanes and the Scholia on him, Schol. Plat. p. 330.) Among his enemies Aristo­phanes mentions oi Trepl KaAA/ay (/. c.}. What Callias he means is doubtful, but it is most natural to suppose that it is Callias the son of Hippo-riicns.

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 : — FAaC/cos, ©patron, "Hpwes,

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, 'A^iAo%o*?

s, AiSaavmAiaj, ApaTreTiSes-, or 'iSeuot, EweTSat, ©pSrrat, KAeo-MaA0a«:oJ, Ne/xecriS, No/xoi, Ilaz/OTrTaj, IIuAcua, TIAoyrof, TTuTii^, , Tpo<pd>vios, Xet/xa^d^e^oi, Xet-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 ^drvpoi and Xet/ua£"o',uej'0i, which are mentioned only in the Didascalia of the KnigMs and Acliarnians.

The following are the plays of Cratinus, the date of which is known with certainty : — b. c.

About 448. 'apx^oxo*.

In 425. XeijUa^o/^ei/oj, 2nd prize. Aristophanes was first, with the Acliarnians.

424. Sarupoi, 2nd prize. Aristophanes was first, with the Knights.

423. livriv^ 1st prize.

2nd. Ameipsias., K(Wos. 3rd. Aristoph. Ne<£>eAat.

The chief ancient commentators on Cratinus were Asclepiades, Didymus, Callistratus, Euphro-nius, Symmaclras, Aristarchus, and the Scholiasts. (Meineke, Frag. Com. Grace, i. pp. 43 — 58, ii. pp. 13 — 232-; Bergk, Comment, de Rdiq. Com. Alt.

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