Menander (/məˈnændər/; Greek: Μένανδρος Menandros; c. 342/41 – c. 290 BC) was a Greek dramatist and the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy. He wrote 108 comedies and took the prize at the Lenaia festival eight times. His record at the City Dionysia is unknown but may well have been similarly spectacular.
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.
Bust of Menander. Marble, Roman copy of the Imperial era after a Greek original (ca. 343–291 BC).
|Died||c. 290 BC|
|Education||Student of Theophrastus at the Lyceum|
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.
He was the friend, associate, and perhaps pupil of Theophrastus, and was on intimate terms with the Athenian dictator Demetrius of Phalerum. 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. According to the note of a scholiast on the Ibis of Ovid, he drowned while bathing, and his countrymen honored him with a tomb on the road leading to Athens, where it was seen by Pausanias. Numerous supposed busts of him survive, including a well-known statue in the Vatican, formerly thought to represent Gaius Marius.
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, 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) Menander was accused of plagiarism, as his The Superstitious Man was taken from The Augur of Antiphanes, 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) 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.
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.
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 are probably spurious.
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.
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.
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.
Other papyrus fragments continue to be discovered and published.
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.
"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. 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!". See discussion at "the die is cast" and "Alea iacta est".
Lewis and Short, 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).
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; the OCT edition of Harry Sandbach, published in 1972 and updated in 1990, remains in print.
Ancient Greek comedy was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the theatre of classical Greece (the others being tragedy and the satyr play). 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.
The philosopher Aristotle wrote in his Poetics (c. 335 BC) that comedy is a representation of laughable people and involves some kind of blunder or ugliness which does not cause pain or disaster. C. A. Trypanis wrote that comedy is the last of the great species of poetry Greece gave to the world.Antimachus II
Antimachus II Nikephoros (Greek: Ἀντίμαχος Β΄ ὁ Νικηφόρος; the epithet means "the Victorious") was an Indo-Greek king. He ruled a vast territory from the Hindu-Kush to the Punjab around 170 BCE. He was almost certainly the eponymous son of Antimachus I, who is known from a unique preserved tax receipt. Bopearachchi dated Antimachus II to 160–155 BCE on numismatical grounds, but changed this to 174–165 BCE after the tax receipt was revealed to synchronise his reign with that of Antimachus I. R. C. Senior has not dated Antimachus II but thinks that his coins were possibly Indian issues of Antimachus I, despite their different epithets and coin types.
In both of Boperachchi's reconstructions, Antimachus II was succeeded by Menander I who inherited three of his four monograms. Antimachus II probably fought against the Bactrian king Eucratides I, who had dethroned his father in Bactria.Casa del Menandro
The House of Menander (Italian: Casa del Menandro) is one of the richest and most magnificent houses in ancient Pompeii in terms of architecture, decoration and contents, and covers a large area of about 1,800 square metres (19,000 sq ft). Its quality means the owner must have been an aristocrat involved in politics, with great taste for art. Mussolini held a lunch party in Room 18 (Pompeii photo archive negatives A/234-236) when he visited Pompeii in 1940.
The house was excavated between November 1926 and June 1932 and is located in Region I, Insula 10, Entrance 4 (I.10.4) of the city.Diomedes Soter
Diomedes Soter (Greek: Διομήδης ὁ Σωτήρ; epithet means "the Saviour") was an Indo-Greek king. The places where his coins have been found seem to indicate that his rule was based in the area of the Paropamisadae, possibly with temporary dominions further east. Judging from their similar portraits and many overlapping monograms, the young Diomedes seems to have been the heir (and probably a relative) of Philoxenus, the last king to rule before the kingdom of Menander I finally fragmented.Epander
Epander (Greek: Ἔπανδρος) was one of the Indo-Greek kings. He may have been a relative of Menander I, and the findplaces of his coins seem to indicate that he ruled in the area of Punjab.Greco-Buddhism
Greco-Buddhism, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great. The Macedonian satraps were then conquered by the Mauryan Empire, under the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. The Mauryan Emperor Ashoka would convert to Buddhism and spread the religious philosophy throughout his domain, as recorded in the Edicts of Ashoka. Following the collapse of the Mauryan Empire, Greco-Buddhism continued to flourish under the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Indo-Greek Kingdoms, and Kushan Empire. Buddhism was adopted in Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century AD, ultimately spreading to China, Korea, Japan, Siberia, and Vietnam.Heliocles I
Heliocles (Greek: Ἡλιοκλῆς; reigned 145–130 BCE) was a Greco-Bactrian king, relative (son or brother) and successor of Eucratides the Great, and probably the last Greek king to reign over the Bactrian country. His reign was a troubled one; according to Roman historian Justin, Eucratides was murdered by his son and co-ruler, though Justin fails to name the perpetrator. The patricide might have led to instability, even civil war, which caused the Indian parts of the empire to be lost to Indo-Greek king Menander I and southern Bactria to be lost to the Yuezhi.Indo-Greek Kingdom
The Indo-Greek Kingdom or Graeco-Indian Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom spanning modern-day Afghanistan, into the classical circumscriptions of the Punjab of the Indian subcontinent (northern Pakistan and northwestern India), during the last two centuries BC and was ruled by more than thirty kings, often conflicting with one another.
The kingdom was founded when the Graeco-Bactrian king Demetrius invaded the subcontinent early in the 2nd century BC. The Greeks in the Indian Subcontinent were eventually divided from the Graeco-Bactrians centered in Bactria (now the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan), and the Indo-Greeks in the present-day north-western Indian Subcontinent. The most famous Indo-Greek ruler was Menander (Milinda). He had his capital at Sakala in the Punjab (present-day Sialkot).
The expression "Indo-Greek Kingdom" loosely describes a number of various dynastic polities, traditionally associated with a number of regional capitals like Taxila, (modern Punjab (Pakistan)), Pushkalavati and Sagala. Other potential centers are only hinted at; for instance, Ptolemy's Geographia and the nomenclature of later kings suggest that a certain Theophila in the south of the Indo-Greek sphere of influence may also have been a satrapal or royal seat at one time.
During the two centuries of their rule, the Indo-Greek kings combined the Greek and Indian languages and symbols, as seen on their coins, and blended Greek and Indian ideas, as seen in the archaeological remains. The diffusion of Indo-Greek culture had consequences which are still felt today, particularly through the influence of Greco-Buddhist art. The ethnicity of the Indo-Greek may also have been hybrid to some degree. Euthydemus I was, according to Polybius, a Magnesian Greek. His son, Demetrius I, founder of the Indo-Greek kingdom, was therefore of Greek ethnicity at least by his father. A marriage treaty was arranged for the same Demetrius with a daughter of the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III (who had some Persian descent). The ethnicity of later Indo-Greek rulers is sometimes less clear. For example, Artemidoros (80 BC) may have been of Indo-Scythian ascendency, although this is now disputed.Following the death of Menander, most of his empire splintered and Indo-Greek influence was considerably reduced. Many new kingdoms and republics east of the Ravi River began to mint new coinage depicting military victories. The most prominent entities to form were the Yaudheya Republic, Arjunayanas, and the Audumbaras. The Yaudheyas and Arjunayanas both are said to have won "victory by the sword". The Datta dynasty and Mitra dynasty soon followed in Mathura. The Indo-Greeks ultimately disappeared as a political entity around 10 AD following the invasions of the Indo-Scythians, although pockets of Greek populations probably remained for several centuries longer under the subsequent rule of the Indo-Parthians and Kushans.Menander (general)
Menander (Greek: Μένανδρος; fl. 4th century BC) was an officer in the service of Alexander the Great. He was one of those called etairoi, but he held the command of a body of mercenaries. He was appointed by Alexander to the government of Lydia, during the settlement of the affairs of Asia made by Alexander when at Tyre (331 BC). Menander appears to have remained at that post until the year 323 BC, when he was commissioned to lead a reinforcement of troops to Alexander at Babylon — he arrived there just before the king's last illness. In the division of the provinces, after the death of Alexander, Menander received his former government of Lydia, of which he was quick to take possession. He appears soon to have attached himself to the party of Antigonus and was the first to give Antigonus information about the ambitious schemes of Perdiccas for marrying Cleopatra. In the new distribution of the provinces at Triparadisus (321 BC) he lost the government of Lydia, which was given to Cleitus; but this was probably only in order that he might liaise more easily with Antigonus, as illustrated by him commanding a part of Antigonus's army in the first campaign against Eumenes (320 BC). The following year, Menander learnt of the escape of Eumenes from Nora, and advanced with an army into Cappadocia to attack him, forcing him to take refuge in Cilicia. After this, there is no further records about Menander .Menander (gnostic)
Menander (Greek: Μένανδρος) was a first-century CE Samaritan gnostic, magician and a leader of the Simonians following the death of his master and instructor, Simon Magus, who was in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius. He is mentioned in the works of Irenaeus, Tertullian and others. Justin Martyr is the oldest source of knowledge about Menander after he met some of the devoted Menandrians in their old age. Justin suggested that Menander was born in Cappareteia and established a school in Antioch where he announced himself the messiah and vowed to defeat the angels that were keeping the world in captivity, possibly through exorcism.When the Simonians divided during the Gnostic schism, Menander called his part of the sect Menandrians, holding the belief that the world was made by angels. His ideas contrasted with those of Satornilus and the Satornilians, who believed the world was made by only seven angels against the will of a "Father on high". Menander held that a water baptism was essential as the source for eternal youth.Menander held solid to the belief that as head of the church, he was the savior and Power of God. Menander maintained that "the primary power continues unknown to all but that he himself is the person who has been sent forth from the presence of the invisible beings as a savior, for the deliverance of men".Other magicians including Basilides and Cerdo became followers of Menander and were said to have "given immense development to his doctrines" with differing ethical consequences. It has been suggested that some of those who tried to interpret the doctrines of Menander, such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, took things far too literally. Irenaeus for instance, claimed that those in receipt of Menander's water baptism no longer grew old and became immortal.Menander I
Menander I Soter (Ancient Greek: Μένανδρος Αʹ ὁ Σωτήρ, Ménandros Aʹ ho Sōtḗr, "Menander I the Saviour"; known in Indian Pali sources as Milinda) was an Indo-Greek King of the Indo-Greek Kingdom (165/155 –130 BC) 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.
Menander was initially a king of Bactria. After conquering the Punjab he established an empire in the Indian Subcontinent stretching from the Kabul River valley in the west to the Ravi River in the east, and from the Swat River valley in the north to Arachosia (the Helmand Province). Ancient Indian writers indicate that he launched expeditions southward into Rajasthan and as far east down the Ganges River Valley as Pataliputra (Patna), and the Greek geographer Strabo wrote that he "conquered more tribes than Alexander the Great."
Large numbers of Menander’s coins have been unearthed, attesting to both the flourishing commerce and duration of his realm. Menander was also a patron of Buddhism, and his conversations with the Buddhist sage Nagasena are recorded in the important Buddhist work, the Milinda Panha ("The Questions of King Milinda"; panha meaning "question" in Pali). After his death in 130 BC, he was succeeded by his wife Agathokleia who ruled as regent for his son Strato I. Buddhist tradition relates that he handed over his kingdom to his son and retired from the world, but Plutarch relates that he died in camp while on a military campaign, and that his remains were divided equally between the cities to be enshrined in monuments, probably stupas, across his realm.Menander II
Menander II Dikaios (Greek: Μένανδρος Β΄ ὁ Δίκαιος; epithet means "the Just") was an Indo-Greek King who ruled in the areas of Arachosia and Gandhara in the north of modern Pakistan.Menander Protector
Menander Protector (Menander the Guardsman, Menander the Byzantian; Greek: Μένανδρος Προτήκτωρ or Προτέκτωρ), Byzantine historian, was born in Constantinople in the middle of the 6th century AD. The little that is known of his life is contained in the account of himself quoted in the Suda (Mu,591: Μένανδρος). Menander mentions his father Euphratas, who came from Byzantium, and his brother Herodotus. He at first took up the study of law, but abandoned it for a life of pleasure. When his fortunes were low, the patronage accorded to literature by the Emperor Maurice, at whose court he was a military officer (hence the epithet Protector, which denotes his military function), encouraged him to try writing history.
Menander took as his model Agathias who like him had been a jurist, and his history begins at the point where Agathias leaves off. It embraces the period from the arrival of the Kutrigurs in Thrace during the reign of Justinian in 558 down to the death of the emperor Tiberius in 582. Considerable fragments of the work are preserved in the Excerpts of Constantine Porphyrogenitus and in the Suda. Although the style is sometimes bombastic, he is considered trustworthy and is one of the most valuable authorities for the history of the 6th century, especially on geographical and ethnographical matters. Menander was an eye-witness of some of the events he describes. Like Agathias, he wrote epigrams, one of which, on a Persian magus who became a convert to Christianity and died the death of a martyr, is preserved in the Greek Anthology (i.101).
Fragments of his work can be found in:
C. W. Müller, Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum, 4, 200
J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, 113
L. Dindorf, Historici Graeci minores, 2Translations:
Roger Blockley: The History of Menander the Guardsman. Liverpool 1985.Milinda Panha
The Milinda Pañha ("Questions of Milinda") is a Buddhist text which dates from sometime between 100 BCE and 200 CE. It purports to record a dialogue between the Buddhist sage Nāgasena, and the Indo-Greek king Menander I (Pali: Milinda) of Bactria, who reigned from Sagala (modern Sialkot, Pakistan).
The Milinda Pañha is regarded as canonical in Burmese Buddhism, included as part of the book of Khuddaka Nikaya. An abridged version is included as part of Chinese Mahayana translations of the canon. The Milinda Pañha is not regarded as canonical by Thai or Sri Lankan Buddhism, however, despite the surviving Theravāda text being in Sinhalese script.
The Chinese text titled the Monk Nāgasena Sutra corresponds to the first three chapters of the Milindapanha. It was translated sometime during the Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420).Nicias (Indo-Greek king)
Nicias (Greek: Νικίας) was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in the Paropamisade. Most of his relatively few coins have been found in northern Pakistan, indicating that he ruled a smaller principate around the lower Kabul valley.
He was possibly a relative of Menander I.Reh Inscription
The Reh Inscription was discovered in 1979 near the Reh archaeological site along Yamuna River about 350 kilometres (220 mi) east of Mathura in India. It is a Prakrit inscription in Brahmi script near the bottom of a Shiva linga. The inscription is dated to between the 2nd century BCE and 2nd century CE based on the script style.The fragmentary inscription was published by the historian G. R. Sharma in 1980, who proposed that it mentions the Indo-Greek king Menander I. This theory has been discredited by other scholars such as B.N. Mukherjee and Richard Salomon, though the Reh inscription is acknowledged as an important new discovery. The Reh inscription is significant in establishing the existence of aniconic representation of Shiva and Shaivism ideas in ancient north India.Strato I
Strato I (Greek: Στράτων Α΄), was an Indo-Greek king who was the son of the Indo-Greek queen Agathokleia, who presumably acted as his regent during his early years after Strato's father, another Indo-Greek king, was killed.Thraso
Thraso (Greek: Θράσων), latinized as Thrason, was an Indo-Greek king in Central and Western Punjab, unknown until the 1982 discovery of one of his coins by R. C. Senior in the Surana hoard. The coin is in a style similar to those of Menander I, has the same type of Athena, and shares one of Menander's mint marks. On the coin, the title of Thraso is Basileus Megas ("Great King"), a title which only Eucratides the Great had dared take before him and which is seemingly misplaced on the young boy Thraso, whose single preserved coin indicates a small and insignificant reign.
Osmund Bopearachchi suggests a preliminary dating of 95–80 BC, but Senior himself concludes that Thraso was the son and heir of Menander (c. 155–130 BC), since his coin was not worn and was found in a hoard with only earlier coins.It seems as though the child was briefly raised to the throne in the turmoil following the death of Menander, by a general who thought the grandiloquent title might strengthen his case.Zoilos I
Zoilus I Dikaios (Greek: Ζωΐλος Α΄ ὁ Δίκαιος; epithet means "the Just") was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in Afghanistan and Pakistan and occupied the areas of the Paropamisade and Arachosia previously held by Menander I. He may have belonged to the dynasty of Euthydemus I.
Plays by Menander