The Poets of Old Comedy



i Σ Peace 835

Ἴων ὁ Χῖος· διθυράμβων ποιητὴς καὶ τραγῳδίας καὶ μελῶν . . . περιβόητος δὲ ἐγένετο. ἔγραψε δὲ καὶ κωμῳδίας καὶ ἐπιγράμματα καὶ παιᾶνας καὶ ὕμνους καὶ σκολιὰ καὶ ἐγκώμια καὶ ἐλεγεῖα.

ii Suda δ 1029

διθυραμβοδιδάσκαλοι, περὶ μετεώρων καὶ περὶ τῶν νεφελῶν λέγουσι πολλὰ καὶ συνθέτους δὲ λέξεις ἐποίουν καὶ ἔλεγον ἐνδιαεριαιερινηχέτους· οἷος ἦν Ἴων ὁ Χῖος, ὁ ποιητής . . . περιβόητος δὲ ἐγένετο. ἔγραψε δὲ κωμῳδίας καὶ ἐπιγράμματα.


Ion of Chios

Ion of Chios

Ion was a poet of considerable versatility, credited with having written tragedies, dithyrambs, lyric poetry, philosophy, prose anecdotes, and, according to the Suda and an Aristophanic scholiast (T 1, 2), comedies. This would be unusual, especially in view of Socrates’ claim at the end of Plato’s Symposium (223d) that a comic poet should be able to write tragedy and vice versa, the implication being that such is not the case. At TrGF 19 T 1, Snell suggests that his satyr plays were mistaken for comedies in the later tradition.


i Ion of Chios: a poet of dithyrambs and tragedies and lyric poems . . . he was celebrated, and also wrote comedies and epigrams and paeans and hymns and drinking songs and praise songs and elegies.

ii “Dithyrambic poets”: they write a great deal about things celestial and about clouds, and they would create compound words and say things like “air-haunting-swiftly-soaring”—Ion of Chios was one such poet . . . and was very well-known. He wrote comedies and epigrams.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.ion_chios-comic_testimonia.2011