1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Menippus

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MENIPPUS, of Gadara in Coele-Syria, Greek cynic and satirist, lived during the 3rd century B.C. According to Diogenes Laërtius (vi. 8) he was originally a slave, amassed a fortune as a money-lender, lost it, and committed suicide through grief. His works (written in a mixture of prose and verse) are all lost. He discussed serious subjects in a spirit of raillery, and especially delighted in attacking the Epicureans and Stoics. His Writings exercised considerable influence upon later literature. One of the dialogues attributed to Lucian, his avowed imitator, who frequently mentions him, is called Menippus. But this dialogue is regarded with suspicion, and since the sub-title (“The Oracle of the Dead”) resembles that of a work ascribed to Menippus by Diogenes Laërtius, it has been suggested that it is really the work of Menippus himself, or at any rate imitated from his Νέκυια by the author, whether Lucian or another. It is well known that the Menippean satires of M. Terentius Varro, the fragments of which give an idea of this kind of composition, were called after Menippus of Gadara (see Teuffel-Schwabe, Hist. of Roman Literature, § 165, 3).

Bibliography.—F. Ley, De vita. scriptisque Menippi cynici (Cologne, 1843); R. Helm, Lucian und Menipp (1906); C. Wachsmuth, Sillographorum graecorum reliquiae (1885), with an account of Menippus and similar writers. Menippus found an imitator in later times in Justus Lipsius, author of a Satyra menippaea (1637) in which he ridiculed certain literary men of his age, especially the poet laureate; and in the authors of the famous Satyre Menippée (1593; latest editions by C. Marcilly, Paris, 1882; J. Frank, Oppeln, 1884), written against the Holy League during the reign of Henri IV.