1. Suidas mentions three distinct poets of this name.
The first he calls a native of Agrigentum in Sicily; the second an Athenian, and son of Theodectes or Xenocles; and the third simply an Attic poet.
The first of these poets is not mentioned any where else, and his existence is more than doubtful.
The investigations of Meineke on the poets of the name Carcinus have shewn incontrovertibly that we have to distinguish between two tragic poets of this name, both of whom were natives of Athens.
The first, or elder one, who was a very skilful scenic dancer (Athen. 1.22
), is occasionally alluded to by Aristophanes (Nib.
794, with the Schol.); but his dramas, of which no fragments have come down to us, seem to have perished at an early time.
The younger Carcinus was a con either of Theodectes or of Xenoeles: and if the latter statement be true, he is a grandson of Carcinus the elder. (Comp. Harpocrat. s. v. Καρκίνος
He is in all probability the same as the one who spent a great part of his life at the court of Dionysius II. at Syracuse. (D. L. 2.7
This supposition agrees with the statement of Suidas, according to whom Carcinus the son of Xenocles lived about B. C. 380; for Dionysius was expelled from Syracuse in B. C. 356. (Comp. Diod. 5.5
, where Wesseling is thinking of the fictitious Carcinus of Agrigentum.)
The tragedies which are referred to by the ancients under the name of Carcinus, probably all belong to the younger Carcinus. Suidas attributes to him 160 tragedies, but we possess the titles and fragments of nine only and some fragments of uncertain dramas.
The following titles are known: Alope (Aristot. EN 7.7
), Achilles (Athen. 5.189
), Thyestes (Aristot. Poet. 16
), Semele (Athen. 13.559
), Amphiaraus (Aristot. Poet. 17
), Medeia (Aristot. Rh. 2.23
), Oedipus (Aristot. Riet.
3.15), Tereus (Stobaeus, Serm.
103.3), and Orestes. (Phot. Lex.
As regards the character of the poems of Carcinus, it is usually inferred, from the phrase Καρκίνου ποιήματα
, used to designate obscure poetry (Phot. Lex. s. v.
), and is also attested by other authorities (Athen. 8.351
), that the style of Carcinus was of a studied obscurity; though in the fragments extant we can scarcely perceive any trace of this obscurity, and their style bears a close resemblance to that of Euripides. (Meineke, Hist. Crit. com. Graec.
p. 505, &c.)