), of lelos, one of the most celebrated lyric poets in the deapartment of the dithyramb. Suidas (s. v.
) distinguishes two poets of this name, of whom the elder was the son of Criton, and flourished about Ol. 65 (B. C. 520), and wrote numerous books of dithyrambs, and epic poems, and epigrams, and elegies. and very many other things; he was the grandfather, on the mother's side, of the younger Melanippides, whose father's name was also Criton. No other ancient writer recognises this distinction, which, therefore, probably arises out of some confusion in the memory of Suidas.
At all events, it is better to place under one head all that we know of Melanippides.
The date of Melanippides can only be fixed within rather uncertain limits.
He may be said, somewhat indefinitely, to have flourished about the middle of the 5th century B. C.
He was younger than Lasus of Hermione (Plut. Mus.
p. 1141c.), and than Diagoras of Melos (Suid. s. v. Διαγόρας
He was contemporary with the comic poet Pherecrates (Plut. l.c.
He lived for some time at the court of Perdiccas, of Macedonia, and there died (Suid. s. v.
He must therefore have died before B. C. 412.
His high reputation as a poet is intimated by Xenophon, who makes Aristodemus give him the first place among dithyrambic poets, by the side of Homer, Sophocles, Polycleitus. and Zeuxis, as the chief masters in their respective arts (Xenoph. Mem.
1.4. §, 3), and by Plutarch, who mentions him, with Simonides and Euripides, as among the most distinguished masters of music (Non poss. saav. viv. sec. Epic.
He did not, however, escape the censures which the old comic poets so often heap upon their lyric contemporaries, for their corruption of the severe beauties of the ancient music. Pherecrates places him at the head of such offenders, and charges him with relaxing and softening the ancient music by increasing the chords of the lyre to twelve (or, as we ought perhaps to read, ten: see Ulrici, Gesch. d. Hellen. Dichtkunst,
vol. ii. p. 605,n. 104), and thus paving the way for the further licences introduced by Cinesias, Phrynis, and Timotheus (Plut. de Mus.
p. 1141; comp. Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec.
According to Aristotle, he altogether abandoned the antistrophic arrangement, and introduced long preludes (ἀναβολαί
), in which the union, which was anciently considered essential, between music and the words of poetry, seems to have been severed (Aristot. Rh. 3.9
). Plutarch (or the author of the essay on music which bears his name) tells us that in his flute-music he subverted the old arrangement, by which the flute-player was hired and trained by the poet, and was entirely subordinate to him (De Mus. l.c.
); but there is probably some mistake in this, as the fragment of Pherecrates, which the author quotes in confirmation of his statement, contains not a word about flute-music, but attacks only the alterations in the lyre; while, on the other hand, Athenaeus cites a passage from the Marsyas
of Melanippides, which seems to show that he rejected and despised flutemusic altogether (Athen. 14.616
According to Suidas, Melanippides wrote lyric songs and dithyrambs. Several verses of his poems are still preserved, and the following titles, Marsyas, Persephone, The Danaids,
which have misled Fabricius and others into the supposition that Melanippides was a tragic poet, a mistake which has been made with respect to the titles of the dithyrambs of other poets.
The fragments are collected by Bergk (Poet. Lyr. Graec.
pp. 847-850). We learn from Meleager (5.7) that some of the hymns of Melanippides had a place in his Garland:--
νάρκισσόν τε τορῶν Μεναλιππίδου ἔγκυον ὕμνων
(Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. ii. pp. 129,130; Ulrici, Hellen. Dicktk.
vol. ii. pp. 26, 141, 590-593; Schmidt, Diatribe in Dithyramb.
pp. 77-85, who maintains the distinction of Suidas, and attempts to distinguish between the extant fragments of the two poets.)