Hegemon, Testimonia and Fragment

LCL 514: 270-271

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The Poets of Old Comedy


Although Hegemon was best known as a writer of parodies, he was assigned by some to Old Comedy (T 2–4). Athenaeus (T 4) places him chronologically with Cratinus. Polemon (T 4) describes him as the first competitor in parōidia, and since Hermippus, a comic poet from the 430s onward, is also said to have written parōidia (T 4), we should date Hegemon to the 430s and later. The two anecdotes recorded by Chamaeleon (see T 3) associate him with persons and events of the late fifth century, but the details are suspicious and the stories are probably later inventions. The second, how Hegemon was saved from prosecution by the intervention of Alcibiades, is clearly a companion piece to the story, popular with the later critics, of Alcibiades’ attack on Eupolis. Hegemon is said to have come from Thasos, an island associated with the early


i suda η 52

Ἡγήμων, ὁ Θάσιος, ὁ ἐπικληθεὶς Φακή.




iambic poet Archilochus, and thus to have been active at Athens at the same time as Cratinus the comic poet was creating comedy strongly influenced by Archilochus, is suggestive.

Athenaeus 699a (T 4), in addition to preserving the one major fragment of his parodic work (twenty-one dactylic hexameters in a low colloquial tone with constant Homeric allusions), cites a comedy, Philinna, “in the old style.” However, the title suggests rather a hetaera play of the sort familiar from the fourth century, and the one fragment is very much in the culinary style of Middle Comedy. I suspect that we have two Hegemons here: the parodist from the latter half of the fifth century and a comic poet from the fourth. The Suda (η 53) knows a Hegemon from the time of Demosthenes, whose “plays include a Philinna.”


i Hegemon: of Thasos, the man nicknamed “Bean-soup.”

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.hegemon_comic_parodic_poet-testimonia_fragment.2011