The Ancient Library

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the first to give to the iambistic performances of the comus a regular metrical form (Schol. ad Dionys. Thrac. ap. Bekker, Anecd. Gr. p. 748 ; Meineke, /. c. p. 549). He no doubt substituted for the more ancient improvisations of the chorus and its leader premeditated compositions, though still of the same general kind ; for, as Aristotle says (Poet. c. 5), Crates was the first who ^p^ei/, cu/36/.xej/os Tr)s la/jiGiKris iSeas Kado\ov iroietv Amyous ?) fjivOovs. There would seem also to have been some kind of poetical contest, for we learn that the prize for the successful poet was a basket of figs and a jar of wine (Marm. Par. L c.; Bentley, Dissert, on the Ep. of Phal. vol. i. p. 259, ed. Dyce). It was also the practice of those who took part in the comus to smear their faces with wine-lees, either to prevent their features from being recognised, or to give themselves a more grotesque appearance. Hence comedy came to be called TpvywSia, or lee-song. Others connected the name with the circumstance of a jar of new wine (Tpu£) being the prize for the successful poet. (Athen. ii. p. 40 ; Anon. ap. Meineke, I. c. p. 535 ; Aristoph. Acliarn. 1. 473, &c. ; Fragm. ap. Athen. xii. p. 551 ; Acliarn. 851, 603, Vesp. 650, 1534 ; Schol. ad Arist. Acliarn. 397, 498 ; Schol. ad Plat, de Rep. iii. p. 928, ed. Bait, et Orell. ; Bentley, Dissert, on the Ep. of Phal. vol. i. p. 341, &c. ed. Dyce ; Bode, I. c. p. 22.) There can be but little question that Susarion's pieces were merely intended for the amusement of the hour, and were not committed to writing (Bentley, /. c. p. 250, Sec. ; Anonym, de Com. ap. Meineke, /. c. p. 540 ; Bode, 1. c.}. The comedy of Susarion doubtless partook of that petulant, coarse, and unrestrained personality for which the Megarian comedy was noted. For entertainments of such a character the Athenians were not yet prepared. They required the freedom of a democracy. Ac­cordingly, comedy was discouraged, and for eighty years after the time of Susarion we hear nothing of it in Attica.

It was, however, in Sicily, that comedy was earliest brought to something like perfection. The Greeks in Sicily always exhibited a lively tempera­ment, and the gift of working up any occurrence into a spirited, fluent dialogue. (Cic. Verr. iv. 43, Divin. in CaeciL 9, Oral. ii. 54 ; Quintil. vi. 3. § 41.) This faculty finding its stimulus in the excitement produced by the political contests, which were so frequent in the different cities, and the opportunity for its exercise in the numerous agra­rian festivals connected with the worship of Demeter and Bacchus, it was natural that comedy should early take its rise among them. Yet before the time of the Persian wars, we only hear of iambic com­positions, and of a single poet, Aristoxenus. The performers were called «uTO/ca§6aAoi, i. e. impro-visatores (Athen. xiv. p. 622. ; Etym. Magn. s.v. avTOKctSo'. ; Eustath. ad II. xi. p. 884. 45 ; Hesych. s> v. ; Aristot. Rhet. iii. 7- § 1 ; Bode, I. c. p. 8, &c.), and, subsequently, fauGoi. Their entertainments being of a choral character were, doubtless, ac­companied by music and dancing. Athenaeus (xiv. p. 629) mentions a dance called the ta^gi/c^, which he ranks with the K6f,§a% and ffiKivvis. Afterwards, the comic element was developed partly into travesties of religious legends, partly into delineations of character and manners ; the former in the comedy of Epicharmus, Phormis, and Deinolochus ; the Litter in the mimes of Sophron



and Xenarchus. Epicharmus is very commonly called the inventor of comedy by the grammarians and others (Theocr. Epig. 17 ; Suidas s. v. 5E7Ti^;ap,uos ; Solinus, 5, 13) ; this, however, is true only of that more artistical shape which he gave to it. (Bernhardy, I. c. p. 900.) In his efforts he appears to have been associated with Phormis, a somewhat older contemporary. The Megarian s in Sicily claimed the honour of the invention of corned}'', on account of his having lived in Megara before he went to Syracuse. (Dictionary of Biog. and Myth. art. Epicharmus.} According to Aristotle (Poet, 5) Epicharmus and Phormis were the first who began uvQovs iroielv • which Bernhardy (I. c. p. 898) understands to mean that they were the first to introduce regular plots. The subjects of his plays were mostly mythological, i. e. were parodies or travesties of mythological stories. (Miiller, Dorians^ bookiv. c. 7.) Whether in the representation there was a chorus as well as actors is not clear, though it has been assumed (Grysar, de Dor. Com. p. 200, &c.) that he and Phormis were the earliest comic poets whose works reached posterity in a written form. (Bentley, /. c. p. 451.) But the comedy of Epicharmus was of brief duration. We hear of no successors to him except his son or disciple Deinolochus.

In Attica, the first comic poet of any import­ance whom we hear of after Susarion is Chionides, who is said to have brought out plays in b. c. 488 (Suidas s. v. Xicavi^rjs). Euetes, Euxenides, and Myllus were probably contemporaries of Chionides ; he was followed by Magnes and Ecphantides. Their compositions, however, seem to have been little but the reproduction of the old Megaric farce of Susarion, differing, no doubt, in form, by the introduction of an actor or actors, separate from the chorus, in imitation of the improvements that had been made in tragedy. (Bode, /. c. p. 29—36.) That branch of the Attic drama which was called the old corned}'', begins properly with Cratinus, who was to comedy very much what Aeschylus was to tragedy. Under the vigorous and liberal administration of Pericles comedy found free, scope, and rapidly reached its perfection. Cratinus is said to have been the first who introduced three actors in a comedy. (Anonym, de Com. ap. Mei­neke, p. 540.) But Crates is spoken of as the first who began Ka6o\ov iroieiv Xoyovs ?) jjLvQovs (Arist. Poet. 5), i. e. raised comedy from being a mere lampooning of individuals, and gave it a character of universality, in which subjects drawn from reality, or stories of his own invention received a free, poetic treatment, the characters introduced being rather generalisations than particular indi­viduals. (See Aristotle's distinction between ra tcaO' tKavTov and to, tcaOoXov, Poet. 9.) In what is known of his pieces no traces appear of an3Tthing of a personal or political kind. He was the first who introduced into his pieces the character of a drunken man. (Anonym, de Com. ap. Meineke, p. 536.) Though Crates was a younger contem-, porary of Cratinus, and at first an actor in his pieces, yet, except perhaps his earlier plays, the comedies of Cratinus were an improvement upon those of Crates, as they united with the universality of the latter the pungent personal satire and earnest political purpose which characterised the old comedy (Bernhardy, I. c. pp. 942, 946.) Crates and his imitator Pherecrates seem in the character of their pieces to have had more affinity with the middle

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