Menander

Last updated
Menander
Menander Chiaramonti Inv1453.jpg
Bust of Menander. Marble, Roman copy of the Imperial era after a Greek original (ca. 343–291 BC).
Born342/41 BC
Kephisia, Athens
Diedc. 290 BC
EducationStudent of Theophrastus at the Lyceum
Genre New Comedy
Notable works

Menander ( /məˈnændər/ ; Greek : ΜένανδροςMenandros; c. 342/41 – c. 290 BC) was a Greek dramatist and the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy. [1] He wrote 108 comedies [2] and took the prize at the Lenaia festival eight times. [3] His record at the City Dionysia is unknown but may well have been similarly spectacular.

Contents

One of the most popular writers of antiquity, his work was lost during the Middle Ages and is known in modernity in highly fragmentary form, much of which was discovered in the 20th century. Only one play, Dyskolos , has survived almost entirely.

Life and work

Roman, Republican or Early Imperial, Relief of a seated poet (Menander) with masks of New Comedy, 1st century B.C. - early 1st century A.D., Princeton University Art Museum Relief with Menander and New Comedy Masks - Princeton Art Museum.jpg
Roman, Republican or Early Imperial, Relief of a seated poet (Menander) with masks of New Comedy, 1st century B.C. – early 1st century A.D., Princeton University Art Museum

Menander was the son of well-to-do parents; his father Diopeithes is identified by some with the Athenian general and governor of the Thracian Chersonese known from the speech of Demosthenes De Chersoneso. He presumably derived his taste for comic drama from his uncle Alexis. [4] [5]

He was the friend, associate, and perhaps pupil of Theophrastus, and was on intimate terms with the Athenian dictator Demetrius of Phalerum. [6] He also enjoyed the patronage of Ptolemy Soter, the son of Lagus, who invited him to his court. But Menander, preferring the independence of his villa in the Piraeus and the company of his mistress Glycera, refused. [7] According to the note of a scholiast on the Ibis of Ovid, he drowned while bathing, [8] and his countrymen honored him with a tomb on the road leading to Athens, where it was seen by Pausanias. [9] Numerous supposed busts of him survive, including a well-known statue in the Vatican, formerly thought to represent Gaius Marius. [4]

His rival in dramatic art (and supposedly in the affections of Glycera) was Philemon, who appears to have been more popular. Menander, however, believed himself to be the better dramatist, and, according to Aulus Gellius, [10] used to ask Philemon: "Don't you feel ashamed whenever you gain a victory over me?" According to Caecilius of Calacte (Porphyry in Eusebius, Praeparatio evangelica [11] ) Menander was accused of plagiarism, as his The Superstitious Man was taken from The Augur of Antiphanes, [4] but reworkings and variations on a theme of this sort were commonplace and so the charge is a complicated one.

How long complete copies of his plays survived is unclear, although 23 of them, with commentary by Michael Psellus, were said to still have been available in Constantinople in the 11th century. He is praised by Plutarch (Comparison of Menander and Aristophanes) [12] and Quintilian (Institutio Oratoria), who accepted the tradition that he was the author of the speeches published under the name of the Attic orator Charisius. [13]

Seated portrait of Menander, Roman fresco from the Casa del Menandro in Pompeii Menander fresco Pompeii Italy.jpg
Seated portrait of Menander, Roman fresco from the Casa del Menandro in Pompeii

An admirer and imitator of Euripides, Menander resembles him in his keen observation of practical life, his analysis of the emotions, and his fondness for moral maxims, many of which became proverbial: "The property of friends is common," "Whom the gods love die young," "Evil communications corrupt good manners" (from the Thaïs, quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:33). These maxims (chiefly monostichs) were afterwards collected, and, with additions from other sources, were edited as Menander's One-Verse Maxims, a kind of moral textbook for the use of schools. [4]

The single surviving speech from his early play Drunkenness is an attack on the politician Callimedon, in the manner of Aristophanes, whose bawdy style was adopted in many of his plays.[ citation needed ]

Menander found many Roman imitators. Eunuchus , Andria , Heauton Timorumenos and Adelphi of Terence (called by Caesar "dimidiatus Menander") were avowedly taken from Menander, but some of them appear to be adaptations and combinations of more than one play. Thus in the Andria were combined Menander's The Woman from Andros and The Woman from Perinthos, in the Eunuchus, The Eunuch and The Flatterer, while the Adelphi was compiled partly from Menander and partly from Diphilus. The original of Terence's Hecyra (as of the Phormio) is generally supposed to be, not by Menander, but Apollodorus of Carystus. The Bacchides and Stichus of Plautus were probably based upon Menander's The Double Deceiver and Brotherly-Loving Men, but the Poenulus does not seem to be from The Carthaginian, nor the Mostellaria from The Apparition, in spite of the similarity of titles. Caecilius Statius, Luscius Lanuvinus, Turpilius and Atilius also imitated Menander. He was further credited with the authorship of some epigrams of doubtful authenticity; the letters addressed to Ptolemy Soter and the discourses in prose on various subjects mentioned by the Suda [14] are probably spurious. [4]

Loss of his work

Most of Menander's work did not survive the Middle Ages, except as short fragments. Federico da Montefeltro's library at Urbino reputedly had "tutte le opere", a complete works, but its existence has been questioned and there are no traces after Cesare Borgia's capture of the city and the transfer of the library to the Vatican. [15]

Until the end of the 19th century, all that was known of Menander were fragments quoted by other authors and collected by Augustus Meineke (1855) and Theodor Kock, Comicorum Atticorum Fragmenta (1888). These consist of some 1650 verses or parts of verses, in addition to a considerable number of words quoted from Menander by ancient lexicographers. [4]

20th-century discoveries

A papyrus fragment of the Perikeiromene 976-1008 (P. Oxy. 211 II 211, 1st or 2nd century AD). P.Oxy. II 211.jpg
A papyrus fragment of the Perikeiromene 976–1008 (P. Oxy. 211 II 211, 1st or 2nd century AD).

This situation changed abruptly in 1907, with the discovery of the Cairo Codex, which contained large parts of the Samia ; the Perikeiromene ; the Epitrepontes; a section of the Heros; and another fragment from an unidentified play. A fragment of 115 lines of the Sikyonioi had been found in the papier mache of a mummy case in 1906.

In 1959, the Bodmer papyrus was published containing Dyskolos , more of the Samia, and half of the Aspis. In the late 1960s, more of the Sikyonioi was found as filling for two more mummy cases; this proved to be drawn from the same manuscript as the discovery in 1906, which had clearly been thoroughly recycled. [16]

Other papyrus fragments continue to be discovered and published.

Menander. Roman copy, after original by Kephisodotos the Younger and Timarchos, sons of Praxiteles, of 4th century B.C. Marble. The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Portret Menandra A 850.jpg
Menander. Roman copy, after original by Kephisodotos the Younger and Timarchos, sons of Praxiteles, of 4th century B.C. Marble. The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 2003, a palimpsest manuscript, in Syriac writing of the 9th century, was found where the reused parchment comes from a very expensive 4th-century Greek manuscript of works by Menander. The surviving leaves contain parts of the Dyskolos and 200 lines of another, so far unidentified, piece by Menander. [17] [18]

Famous quotations

The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:33 quotes Menander in the text "Bad company corrupts good character" (NIV) who probably derived this from Euripides (Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 3.16).

"He who labors diligently need never despair, for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor." — Menander

"Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος" (anerriphtho kybos), best known in English as "the die is cast" or "the die has been cast", from the mis-translated Latin "iacta alea est" (itself better-known in the order " Alea iacta est "); a correct translation is "let the die be cast" (meaning "let the game be ventured"). The Greek form was famously quoted by Julius Caesar upon committing his army to civil war by crossing the River Rubicon. [19] The popular form "the die is cast" is from the Latin iacta alea est, a mistranslation by Suetonius, 121 AD. According to Plutarch, the actual phrase used by Julius Caesar at the crossing of the Rubicon was a quote in Greek from Menander's play Arrhephoros, with the different meaning "Let the die be cast!". [20] See discussion at "the die is cast" and " Alea iacta est ".

He [Caesar] declared in Greek with loud voice to those who were present 'Let the die be cast' and led the army across. (Plutarch, Life of Pompey, 60.2.9) [21]

Lewis and Short , [22] citing Casaubon and Ruhnk, suggest that the text of Suetonius should read Jacta alea esto, which they translate as "Let the die be cast!", or "Let the game be ventured!". This matches Plutarch's third-person perfect imperative ἀνερρίφθω κύβος (anerrhiphtho kybos).

According to Gregory Hayes' Translation of "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius, Menander is also known for the quote/proverb: "a rich man owns so many goods he has no place to shit.” (Meditations, V:12) [23]

Comedies

More complete plays

Only fragments available

  • Adelphoi ("The Brothers")
  • Anatithemene, or Messenia ("The Woman From Messene")
  • Andria ("The Woman From Andros")
  • Androgynos ("Hermaphrodite"), or Kres ("The Cretan")
  • Anepsioi ("Cousins")
  • Aphrodisia ("The Erotic Arts"), or Aphrodisios
  • Apistos ("Unfaithful", or "Unbelieving")
  • Arrhephoros ("The Bearer of Ritual Objects"), or Auletris ("The Female Flute-Player")
  • Auton Penthon ("Grieving For Him")
  • Boiotis ("The Woman From Boeotia")
  • Chalkeia ("The Chalceia Festival"), or Chalkis ("The Copper Pot")
  • Chera ("The Widow")
  • Daktylios ("The Ring")
  • Dardanos ("Dardanus")
  • Deisidaimon ("The Superstitious Man")
  • Demiourgos ("The Demiurge")
  • Didymai ("Twin Sisters")
  • Dis Exapaton ("Double Deceiver")
  • Empimpramene ("Woman On Fire")
  • Encheiridion ("The Dagger")
  • Epangellomenos ("The Man Making Promises")
  • Ephesios ("The Man From Ephesus")
  • Epikleros ("The Heiress")
  • Eunouchos ("The Eunuch")
  • Georgos ("The Farmer")
  • Halieis ("The Fishermen")
  • Heauton Timoroumenos ("Torturing Himself")
  • Heniochos ("The Charioteer")
  • Heros ("The Hero")
  • Hiereia ("The Priestess")
  • Hippokomos ("The Horse-Groom")
  • Homopatrioi ("People Having The Same Father")
  • Hydria ("The Water-Pot")
  • Hymnis ("Hymnis")
  • Hypobolimaios ("The Changeling"), or Agroikos ("The Country-Dweller")
  • Imbrioi ("People From Imbros")
  • Kanephoros ("The Ritual-Basket Bearer")
  • Karchedonios ("The Carthaginian Man")
  • Karine ("The Woman From Caria")
  • Katapseudomenos ("The False Accuser")
  • Kekryphalos ("The Hair-Net")
  • Kitharistes ("The Harp-Player")
  • Knidia ("The Woman From Cnidos")
  • Kolax ("The Flatterer" or "The Toady")
  • Koneiazomenai ("Women Drinking Hemlock")
  • Kybernetai ("The Helmsmen")
  • Leukadia ("The Woman from Leukas")
  • Lokroi ("Men From Locris")
  • Menagyrtes ("The Beggar-Priest of Rhea")
  • Methe ("Drunkenness")
  • Misogynes ("The Woman-Hater")
  • Misoumenos ("The Hated Man")
  • Naukleros ("The Ship's Captain")
  • Nomothetes ("The Lawgiver" or "Legislator")
  • Olynthia ("The Woman From Olynthos")
  • Orge ("Anger")
  • Paidion ("Little Child")
  • Pallake ("The Concubine")
  • Parakatatheke ("The Deposit")
  • Perinthia ("The Woman from Perinthos")
  • Phanion ("Phanion")
  • Phasma ("The Phantom, or Apparition")
  • Philadelphoi ("Brotherly-Loving Men")
  • Plokion ("The Necklace")
  • Poloumenoi ("Men Being Sold", or "Men For Sale")
  • Proenkalon ("The Pregnancy")
  • Progamoi ("People About to Get Married")
  • Pseudherakles ("The Fake Hercules")
  • Psophodees ("Frightened By Noise")
  • Rhapizomene ("Woman Getting Her Face Slapped")
  • Storfiappos ("The Spinner")
  • Stratiotai ("The Soldiers")
  • Synaristosai ("Women Who Eat Together At Noon"; "The Ladies Who Lunch")
  • Synepheboi ("Fellow Adolescents")
  • Synerosa ("Woman In Love")
  • Thais ("Thaïs")
  • Theophoroumene ("The Girl Possessed by a God")
  • Thesaurus ("The Treasure")
  • Thettale ("The Woman From Thessaly")
  • Thrasyleon ("Thrasyleon")
  • Thyroros ("The Doorkeeper")
  • Titthe ("The Wet-Nurse")
  • Trophonios ("Trophonius")
  • Xenologos ("Enlisting Foreign Mercenaries")

Standard editions

The standard edition of the least-well-preserved plays of Menander is Kassel-Austin, Poetarum Comicorum Graecorum vol. VI.2. For the better-preserved plays, the standard edition is now Arnott's 3-volume Loeb. A complete text of these plays for the Oxford Classical Texts series was left unfinished by Colin Austin at the time of his death; [24] the OCT edition of Harry Sandbach, published in 1972 and updated in 1990, remains in print. [25]

See also

Notes

  1. Konstan, David (2010). Menander of Athens. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 3–6. ISBN   0199805199.
  2. Suidas μ 589
  3. Apollodorus: Chronicle, fr.43
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Freese, John Henry (1911). "Menander". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 109–110.
  5. 'A Short History of Comedy', Prolegomena De Comoedia, 3
  6. Phaedrus: Fables, 5.1
  7. Alciphron: Letters, 2.3–4
  8. Scholiast on Ibis.591
  9. Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.2.2
  10. Gellius: Noctes Attica, 17.4
  11. Eusebius: Praeparatio Evangelica, Book 10, Chapter 3
  12. Plutarch: Moralia, 853–854
  13. Quintilian: Institutio Oratoria, 10.1.69
  14. Suda, M.589
  15. Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy , 1860. Paragraph 8 of this subchapter, but see print editions (such as Irene Gordon's (Mentor 1960) p. 158) for Burckhadt's footnote speculating on future rediscoveries.
  16. Menander: Plays and Fragments, tr. Norma Miller. Penguin 1987, p.15
  17. Dieter Harlfinger, Warten auf Menander im Vatikan. 400 griechische Komödienverse in einer syrischen Palimpsest-Handschrift entdeckt, in: Forum Classicum, 2004. See here for an English translation.
  18. F. D’Aiuto: Graeca in codici orientali della Biblioteca Vaticana (con i resti di un manoscritto tardoantico delle commedie di Menandro), in: Tra Oriente e Occidente. Scritture e libri greci fra le regioni orientali di Bisanzio e l’Italia, a cura di Lidia Perria, Rom 2003 (= Testi e studi bizantino-neoellenici XIV), S. 227–296 (esp. 266–283 and plates 13–14)
  19. Alea iacta est
  20. Perseus Digital Library Plut. Pomp. 60.2
  21. See also Plutarch's Life of Caesar 32.8.4 and Sayings of Kings & Emperors 206c.
  22. Online Dictionary: alea, Lewis and Short at the Perseus Project. See bottom of section I.
  23. http://seinfeld.co/library/meditations.pdf
  24. The Guardian Obituary of Colin Austin 6 September 2010 accessed 25 May 2015
  25. OUP Edition of Menander Archived 2015-05-26 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Alexis was a Greek comic poet of the Middle Comedy period. He was born at Thurii in Magna Graecia and taken early to Athens, where he became a citizen, being enrolled in the deme Oion (Οἶον) and the tribe Leontides. It is thought he lived to the age of 106 and died on the stage while being crowned. According to the Suda, a 10th-century encyclopedia, Alexis was the paternal uncle of the dramatist Menander and wrote 245 comedies, of which only fragments now survive, including some 130 preserved titles.

Diphilus, of Sinope, was a poet of the new Attic comedy and a contemporary of Menander. He is frequently listed together with Menander and Philemon, considered the three greatest poets of New Comedy. He was victorious at least three times at the Lenaia, placing him third before Philemon and Menander. Although most of his plays were written and acted at Athens he died at Smyrna. His body was returned and buried in Athens.

Menander I Indo-Greek king

Menander I Soter was an Indo-Greek King of the Indo-Greek Kingdom who administered a large empire in the Northwestern regions of the Indian Subcontinent from his capital at Sagala. Menander is noted for having become a patron of Buddhism.

Rubicon river in northeastern Italy

The Rubicon is a shallow river in northeastern Italy, just south of Ravenna. The same name was given to a river that was famously crossed by Julius Caesar in 49 BC. While it has not been proven, some historians believe that the two rivers are indeed one and the same.

Ancient Greek comedy

Ancient Greek comedy was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the theatre of classical Greece. Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into three periods: Old Comedy, Middle Comedy, and New Comedy. Old Comedy survives today largely in the form of the eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes, while Middle Comedy is largely lost, i.e. preserved only in relatively short fragments by authors such as Athenaeus of Naucratis. New Comedy is known primarily from the substantial papyrus fragments of Menander.

Apollodorus of Carystus in Euboea, was one of the most important writers of the Attic New Comedy, who flourished in Athens between 300 and 260 B.C. He is to be distinguished from the older Apollodorus of Gela (342—290), a contemporary of Menander who was also a writer of New Comedy. He wrote 47 comedies and obtained the prize five times. Terence's Hecyra and Phormio were adapted from the Hekyra and Epidikazomenos of Apollodorus.

Dyskolos is an Ancient Greek comedy by Menander, the only one of his plays, and of the whole New Comedy, that has survived in (almost) complete form. It was first presented at the Lenaian festival in 317–316 BC, where it won Menander the first-place prize.

"How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic" is the second episode of the first season of the television series Rome. This episode aired in the United States on HBO on September 4, 2005 and in the United Kingdom on 2 & 9 November 2005 on BBC.

<i>Alea iacta est</i> Latin phrase

Alea iacta est is a variation of a Latin phrase attributed by Suetonius to Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 B.C., as he led his army across the Rubicon river in Northern Italy. With this step, he entered Italy at the head of his army in defiance of the Senate and began his long civil war against Pompey and the Optimates. The phrase, either in the original Latin or in translation, is used in many languages to indicate that events have passed a point of no return. It is now most commonly cited with the word order changed rather than in the original phrasing. The same event inspired another idiom with the same meaning, "Crossing the Rubicon".

Crossing the Rubicon January 49 BCE event leading to the Roman Civil War; also used as an idiom to mean a point of no return

Julius Caesar's crossing the Rubicon river in January 49 BC precipitated the Roman Civil War, which ultimately led to Caesar becoming dictator and the rise of the imperial era of Rome. Caesar had been appointed to a governorship over a region that ranged from southern Gaul to Illyricum. As his term of governorship ended, the Roman Senate ordered Caesar to disband his army and return to Rome. He was explicitly ordered not to bring his army across the Rubicon river, which was at that time a northern boundary of Italy. In January of 49 BC, Caesar brought the 13th legion across the river, which the Roman government considered insurrection, treason, and a declaration of war on the Roman Senate. According to some authors, he is said to have uttered the phrase "alea iacta est"—the die is cast—as his army marched through the shallow river.

Moschion is the name of:

The Cairo Codex is a manuscript discovered in 1907 that contained the first significant fragments of plays by the ancient Greek playwright Menander, including parts of Epitrepontes, Perikeiromene and Samia.

<i>Samia</i> (play) ancient Greek comedy by Menander

Samia, translated as The Girl From Samos, or The Marriage Connection, is an ancient Greek comedy by Menander, it is the second most extant play with up to 116 lines missing compared to Dyskolos’s 39. The date of its first performance is unknown, with 315 B.C. and 309 B.C. being two suggested dates. The surviving text of Samia comes from the Cairo Codex found in 1907 and the Bodmer Papyri from 1952.

<i>Perikeiromene</i> ancient Greek comedy by Menander

Perikeiromene (Greek: Περικειρομένη, translated as The Girl with her Hair Cut Short, is a comedy by Menander that is only partially preserved on papyrus. Of an estimated total of between 1030 and 1091 lines, about 450 lines survive. Most acts lack their beginning and end, except that the transition between act I and II is still extant. The play may have been first performed in 314/13 BC or not much later.

Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 211

Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 211 is a fragment of the Perikeiromene (976–1008) of Menander, written in Greek. It was discovered in Oxyrhynchus. The manuscript was written on papyrus in the form of a roll. It is dated to the first or second century. Currently it is housed in the Houghton Library (3734) of Harvard University.

Chrysis may refer to:

<i>Sikyonioi</i> ancient Greek comedy by Menander

Sikyonios or Sikyonioi, translated as The Sicyonian(s) or The Man from Sicyon, is an Ancient Greek comedy by Menander. About half of the play has survived in fragments of papyrus used to stuff several mummies in the cemetery of Medinet-el-Ghoran in the Faiyum, where they were discovered in 1901 by Pierre Jouguet. The first acts are almost completely lost, but the rest, although the manuscript is often corrupt, lacunose and hard to read, allows a fair reconstruction of the plot.

Epitrepontes is an Ancient Greek comedy by Menander, of which only fragments of papyrus were preserved.

Ut est rerum omnium magister usus is a quote attributed to Julius Caesar in De Bello Civile, the war commentaries of the Civil War. Since then the phrase has become a common saying in regards to learning and leadership.