PHILEMON

This document was originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 2. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 76-77.

Philemon was, according to Strabo, a native of Soli, though Suidas makes him a Syracusan, probably because he resided some time in Sicily. He began to exhibit about 330 B.C., and died at the age of ninety-seven, some time in the reign of Antigonus the second, though Diodorus tells us he lived to be ninety-nine, and wrote ninety-seven comedies. Various accounts are given in the manner of his death, Lucian stating that he died in a paroxysm of laughter at seeing an ass devouring some figs intended for his own eating. Philemon was considered by his admirers as superior to Menander; and Quintilian, while he denies the correctness of this judgement, is, nevertheless, willing to allow him the second place. We may see a specimen of his favorite plots in the Trinummus of Plautus, which is a translation from his Thesauros or Treasure. His plays, like those of Menander, contained many imitations of Euripides, and he was so ardent an admirer of that poet that he declared he would have hanged himself for the prospect of meeting him in the other world, if he could have been convinced that departed spirits were really capable of recognizing one another.

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