), the hero of a comic epic poem, which most of the ancients regarded as a work of Homer.
The inhabitants of Colophon, where the Margites must have been written (see the first lines of the poem in Lindemann's Lyra,
vol. i. p. 82; Schol. ad Aristoph. Av.
914) believed that Homer was a native of the place (Herod. Vit. Hom.
8), and showed the spot in which he had composed the Margites (Hesiod. et Hom. Certain.
in Göttling's edit. of Hes.
The poem was considered to be a Homeric production by Plato and Aristotle (Plat. Alcib.
ii. p. 147c.; Aristot. Etthic. Nicom.
6.7, Magn. Moral. ad Eudem.
5.7), and was highly esteemed by Callimachus, and its hero Margites as early as the time of Demosthenes had become proverbial for his extraordinary stupidity. (Harpocrat. s. v. Μαργίτης
; Phot. Lex.
p. 241, ed. Porson; Plut. Dem. 23
; Aeschin. ad v. Ctesiph.
p. 297.) Suidas does not mention the Margites among the works of Homer, but states that it was the production of the Carian Pigres, a brother of queen Artemisia, who was at the same time the author of the Batrachomyomachia. (Suid. s.v. Πίγρης
; Plut. de Malign. Herod.
The poem, which was composed in hexameters, mixed, though not in any regular succession, with Iambic trimeters (Hephaest. Enchir.
p. 16; Mar. Victorin. p. 2524, ed. Putsch.), is lost, but it seems to have enjoyed great popularity, and to have been one of the most successful productions of the Homerids at Colophon.
The time at which the Margites was written is uncertain, though it must undoubtedly have been at the time when epic poetry was most flourishing at Colophon, that is, about or before B. C. 700.
It is, however, not impossible that afterwards Pigres may have remodelled the poem, and introduced the Iambic trimeters, in order to heighten the conic effect of the poem.
The character of the hero, which was highly comic and ludicrous, was that of a conceited but ignorant person, who on all occasions exhibited his ignorance: the gods had not made him fit even for digging or ploughing, or any other ordinary craft. His parents were very wealthy; and the poet undoubtedly intended to represent some ludicrous personage of Colophon.
The work seems to have been neither a parody nor a satire; but the author with the most naive humour represented the follies and absurdities of Margites in the most ludicrous light, and with no other object than to excite laughter. (Falbe, de Margite Homerico,
1798; Lindemann, Die Lyra,
vol. i. p. 79, &c.; Welcker, der Ep. Cycl.
p. 184, &c.)