CHIONIDES

This document was written by William Ridgeway and originally published in The Dramas and Dramatic Dances of Non-European Races. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915. pp. 409-410.

The evidence of Aristotle respecting Chionides is supported by a fragment of the poet's own Beggars (Ptochoi), cited by Athenaeus, in which mention is made of Mnesippus, a contemporary of Cratinus, though Athenaeus also goes on to say that some ancient critics consider this play to be spurious. With the statement of Aristotle and the evidence of this fragment, supposing it to be genuine, the brief account of Chionides given by Suidas (s.v.) has been thought to be at variance. According to it Chionides was a writer of the Old Comedy, and 'was bringing out' eight years before the Persian War, i.e. in 487 B.C. But this discrepancy is only apparent and not real. There is no reason why Chionides might not have been giving some sort of entertainments, like the old Megarian farces, in 487 B.C., and yet not have adopted from Epicharmus and Phormis the fully developed Comedy with the plot until some twenty or twenty-five years later, for, as we have seen, there is no doubt that Aristotle simply refers to him and Magnes as the first to introduce to Athens the completed form originated in Sicily by Epicharmus and Phormis. That some sort of rude comic mummeries, in which masks such as those of Maeson were used, were in vogue at Athens at the period to which the first appearance of Chionides is referred is made certain by another passage of Suidas, in which he states that at the time when Epicharmus was first bringing out his plays at Syracuse six years before the Persian War (i.e. in 485 B.C., the date of Gelon's accession), Evetes, Euxenides and Myllus were giving displays at Athens. As we know from Aristophanes that Magnes continued to adhere to the old Megarian farce, it is highly probable that not only Evetes, Euxinides and Myllus, but also Chionides were giving entertainments of the old Magarian type at Athens as early as 485 B.C. But as Aristotle is only concerned with the first appearance of the fully developed Comedy, he not only ignores altogether the first three of these writers, but also the early efforts of Chionides.

FURTHER STUDIES:

  • Chionides - A brief biography.
  • Aristophanes and His Comedies - Biography of the Greek dramatist and analysis of his poetic qualities.
  • Comic Costumes - A description of the costumes worn by comic actors in ancient Greece.
  • Cratinus - A biographical note on the Greek dramatist Cratinus.
  • Epicharmus - A biographical note on the ancient dramatist Epicharmus.
  • Greek and Roman Comedy - A history of the comic drama, focusing on its origins and development in the works of Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, and Terence.
  • Middle Comedy - A brief description of middle Greek comedy.
  • Magnes - A biographical note on the Greek dramatist Magnes.
  • New Comedy - A brief description of new Greek comedy.
  • Old Comedy - A brief description of old Greek comedy.
  • Origin of Comedy - An examination of the origin of Greek comic drama.
  • Philemon - A biographical note on the Greek dramatist Philemon.
  • Phormis - A biographical note on the ancient dramatist Phormis.
  • Find more articles on Greek drama

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