2. A cynic philosopher, and originally a slave, was a native of Gadara in Coele-Syria (Steph. Byz. s. v. Γάδαρα
; Strab. xvi. p.759
). Diogenes calls him a Phoenician: Coele-Syria was sometimes reckoned as a part of Phoenicia, sometimes not.
He seems to have been a hearer of Diogenes.
He amassed great wealth as a usurer (ἡμεροσανειστής
), but was cheated out of it all, and committed suicide.
Diogenes, who has given us a short life of him, with an epigram of his own upon him (2.99-100), informs us that he wrote nothing serious, but that his books were full of jests, like those of his contemporary Meleager; and Strabo and Stephanus call him σπουδόγελοος
; that is, he was one of those cynic philosophers who threw all their teaching into a satirical form.
In this character he is several times introduced by Lucian, who in one place speaks of him as τῶν παλαιῶν κυνῶν μάλα ὑλακτικὸν κάρχαρον
Even in the time of Diogenes, his works were somewhat uncertain; and they are now entirely lost: but we have considerable fragments of Varro's Saturae Menippeae,
which were written in imitation of Menippus. (Cic. Ac. 1.2, 8
; Gel. 2.18
; Macr. 1.11
The recent edition of the fragments of Varro by Oehler contains a short but excellent dissertation on the date of Menippus, whom he places at B. C. 60.
The works of Menippus were, according to Diogenes (6.101), thirteen in number, namely,--
Comp. Menag. Obserrv. in loc.