The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Epicleidas



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. I. c.) The- only one of his plays, the date of which is certainly known, is the Natroi, b. c. 477. (Schol. Find. Pytii. i. 98 ; Clinton, sub ann.) We have also express testimony of the fact that Elothales, the father of Epieharmus, formed an acquaintance with Pythagoras, and that Epicharmus himself was a pupil of that great philosopher. (Diog. Laert. 1. 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. p. xxxvi.)

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 :—'AA/ciW,"AjUy«:os, Ba/c-xcm, Bovffipis, AewcaAtap, Atcfcwrot, "HS^s yd^os, vH<f>ai(rros if) Kco/AaoTaf, KiJ/cAw^, Aoyos /cal Ao-yeiva, 'O8u(T(rei)s avT(fyioAos, 'OSwrtrevs vavay6s, ^tipijves, 2/c£pwj/, 2<J>£7|, Tpcwes, ^lAoKTTJ-njs. 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 head 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 b& 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:—^Aypucrr'ivos (Sicilian Greek for yAypoiKos), 'Apirayal, Td kcl\ ©aAet<r<ra, Af</uAos, 'EATris $ IIAovTOS, 'Eopra /cal Na<roi, 'ettiviklos, 'HpafcAetros, ®eapoi9 Wleyapis, Mfjv€s,'Optia, EtepiaAAos, rU/MTCH, Tll0<av9 TpiaKdSes, Xopefovres, Xvrpat. 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. Miiller 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 comedy, 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 yvoojjiai, or philosophical and moral maxims, and long speculative discourses, on the instinct of ani­mals for example. M tiller 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 (Tlieaet. p. 152, e.) and Cicero. (Tusc. i. 8, ad Ait. 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 timfes 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 Iambic 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.

The fragments of Epicharmus are printed in the collections of Morellius (Sententiae vet. Comic., Paris, 1553, 8vo.), Hertelius (Collect. Fragm. Comic., Basil. 1560, 8vo.), H. Stephanus (Poesis Philosophica, 1573, 8vo.), and Hugo Grotius (Ex­ cerpt, ex Trag. et Comoed., Paris, 1626, 4to.), and separately by H. P. Kruseman, Harlem. 1834. Additions have been made by Welcker (Zeitschrift fur die Alterthumswissenschaft, 1835, p. 1123), and others. The most important modern work on Epi­ charmus is that of Grysar, de Doriensium Comoedia, Colon. 1828; the second volume, containing the fragments, has not yet appeared. (See also Fabric. Bibl. Ch'aec. vol. ii. p. 298 ; Harless, de Epicharmo, Essen, 1822; Muller, Dorians, bk. iv. c. 7; Bode,. Geschichte d. Hellen. Diclitkunst, vol. iii. part i. p. 36.) [P. S.]

EPICLEIDAS ('ETTwAeftas), brother of Cleo- menes III., king of Sparta. According to Pausa- nias (ii. 9. § 1. 3), Cleomenes poisoned Eurydami- das, his colleague of the house of Proclus, and shared the royal power with his brother Epicleidas. The latter afterwards fell in the battle of Sellasia, b. c. 222. [C.P.M.]

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of