Alcaeus (Comic Poet), Testimonia and Fragments

LCL 513: 4-5

Go To Section
Go To Section

About Old Comedy

γὰρ ἄμφω σπουδαίους, τῇ δὲ Ἀριστοφάνει, πράττοντας γὰρ μιμοῦνται καὶ δρῶντας ἄμφω. ὅθεν καὶ δράματα καλεῖσθαί τινες αὐτά φασιν, ὅτι μιμοῦνται δρῶντας. διὸ καὶ ἀντιποιοῦνται τῆς τε τραγῳδίας καὶ τῆς κωμῳδίας οἱ Δωριεῖς (τῆς μὲν γὰρ κωμῳδίας οἱ Μεγαρεῖς οἵ τε ἐνταῦθα ὡς ἐπὶ τῆς παρ᾿ αὐτοῖς δημοκρατίας γενομένης καὶ οἱ ἐκ Σικελίας, ἐκεῖθεν γὰρ ἦν Ἐπίχαρμος ὁ ποιητὴς πολλῷ πρότερος ὢν Χιωνίδου καὶ Μάγνητος· καὶ τῆς τραγῳδίας ἔνιοι τῶν ἐν Πελοποννήσῳ) ποιούμενοι τὰ ὀνόματα σημεῖον· αὐτοὶ μὲν γὰρ κώμας τὰς περιοικίδας καλεῖν φασιν, Ἀθηναίους δὲ δήμους, ὡς κωμῳδοὺς οὐκ ἀπὸ τοῦ κωμάζειν λεχθέντας ἀλλὰ τῇ κατὰ κώμας πλάνῃ ἀτιμαζομένους ἐκ τοῦ ἄστεως· καὶ τὸ ποιεῖν αὐτοὶ μὲν δρᾶν, Ἀθηναίους δὲ πράττειν προσαγορεύειν.


ὥσπερ δὲ καὶ τὰ σπουδαῖα μάλιστα ποιητὴς Ὅμηρος ἦν (μόνος γὰρ οὐχ ὅτι εὖ ἀλλὰ καὶ μιμήσεις δραματικὰς ἐποίησεν), οὕτως καὶ τὸ τῆς κωμῳδίας σχῆμα πρῶτος ὑπέδειξεν, οὐ ψόγον ἀλλὰ τὸ γελοῖον δραματοποιήσας· ὁ γὰρ Μαργίτης ἀνάλογον ἔχει, ὥσπερ Ἰλιὰς καὶ ἡ Ὀδύσσεια πρὸς τὰς τραγῳδίας, οὕτω καὶ οὗτος πρὸς τὰς κωμῳδίας. παραφανείσης δὲ τῆς τραγῳδίας καὶ κωμῳδίας οἱ ἐφ᾿ ἑκατέραν τὴν


About Old Comedy

sort of representational poet as Homer, since they both represent heroic people, and also the same as Aristophanes, for they both represent people acting and doing things. That is why some say that these works are called “dramas,” because they represent people in action [dran]. For this reason Dorians actually claim tragedy and comedy for their own—comedy by the Megarians, both those here [on the mainland] since it came into being during their democracy and those in Sicily where Epicharmus the poet came from, a much earlier figure than Chionides and Magnes; tragedy by some in the Peloponnese. They adduce the names as evidence, for they contend that they call the outlying villages kōmai, while the Athenians call them dēmoi and that comic performers [kōmōidoi] are so called not from revelling [kōmazein], but from people banned from the city and wandering through the villages [kōmai]. <They say> also that for “action” they use the word dran, but the Athenians prattein.

(c) Just as Homer was the poet of serious subjects—he stands alone, not just in quality, but also in his dramatic representations1—so also he was the first to suggest the genre of comedy, by dramatising not the insulting but the ridiculous. For his Margites stands in the same relation to comedies as the Iliad and the Odyssey do towards tragedies.2 When tragedy and comedy began to appear, writers

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.alcaeus_comic_poet-testimonia_fragments.2011