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Chapter 8. MENIPPUS

[99] Menippus,1 also a Cynic, was by descent a Phoenician--a slave, as Achaïcus in his treatise on Ethics says. Diocles further informs us that his master was a citizen of Pontus and was named Baton. But as avarice made him very resolute in begging, he succeeded in becoming a Theban.

There is no seriousness2 in him ; but his books overflow with laughter, much the same as those of his contemporary Meleager.3

Hermippus says that he lent out money by the day and got a nickname from doing so. For he used to make loans on bottomry and take security, thus accumulating a large fortune. [100] At last, however, he fell a victim to a plot, was robbed of all, and in despair ended his days by hanging himself. I have composed a trifle upon him4:

May be, you know Menippus,

Phoenician by birth, but a Cretan hound :

A money-lender by the day--so he was called--

At Thebes when once on a time his house was broken into

And he lost his all, not understanding what it is to be a Cynic,

He hanged himself.

Some authorities question the genuineness of the books attributed to him, alleging them to be by Dionysius and Zopyrus of Colophon, who, writing them for a joke, made them over to Menippus as a person able to dispose of them advantageously.

[101] There have been six men named Menippus : the first the man who wrote a History of the Lydians and abridged Xanthus ; the second my present subject ; the third a sophist of Stratonicea, a Carian by descent5; the fourth a sculptor; the fifth and sixth painters, both mentioned by Apollodorus.

However, the writings of Menippus the Cynic are thirteen in number :



Epistles artificially composed as if by the gods.

Replies to the physicists and mathematicians and grammarians ; and

A book about the birth of Epicurus ; and

The School's reverence for the twentieth day.

Besides other works.

1 "Menippus ille, nobilis quidem canis," Varro apud Nonium 333. Cf. Lucian, Icaromenippus 15, Bis Accusatus 33. Varro's Saturae Menippeae, a mixture of prose and verse, were an imitation of the style of Menippus, although their subject matter was original and genuinely Roman.

2 Strabo, however (xvi. p. 759), speaks of him as σπουδο- γέλοιο ς.

3 For a fragment from his Banquet see Athenaeus 502 c.

4 Anth. Plan. v. 41.

5 Cf.Cic.Brut.91, § 315 "post a me tota Asia peragrata est, [fuique]cum summis quidem oratoribus, quibus-cum exercebar ipsis lubentibus ; quorum erat princeps Menippus Stratonicensis meo iudicio tota Asia illis temporibus disertissimus," and Strabo xvi. 660.

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