), son of Sosipolis, an Athenian comic poet of the old comedy, and one of the three who are distinguished by Horace, in his well-known line,
Eupolis, atque Cratinus, Aristophanesque poetae
above all the
alii quorum prisca comoedia virorum est
a judgment which is confirmed by all we know of the works of the Attic comoedians.
Eupolis is said to have exhibited his first drama in the fourth year of the 87th Olympiad, B. C. 429/8, two years before Aristophanes, who was nearly of the same age as Eupolis. (Anon. de (Com
p. xxix.; Cyrill. c. Julian.
i. p. 13b.; Syncell. Chron.
According to Suidas (s. v.
), Eupolis was then only in the seventeenth year of his age; he was therefore born in B. C. 446/5. (Respecting the supposed legal minimum
of the age at which a person could produce a drama on the stage, see Clinton, Fast. Hell.
vol. ii. Introd. pp. lvi.--lviii.)
The date of his death cannot be so easily fixed.
The common story was, that Alcibiades, when sailing to Sicily, threw Eupolis into the sea, in revenge for an attack which he had made upon him in his Βάπται
But, to say nothing of the improbability of even Alcibiades venturing on such an outrage, or the still stranger fact of its not being alluded to by Thucydides or any other trustworthy historian, the answer of Cicero is conclusive, that Eratosthenes mentioned plays produced by Eupolis after the Sicilian expedition. (Ad Att.
There is still a fragment extant, in which the poet applies the title στρατηγόν
to Aristarchus, whom we know to have been στρατηγός
in the year B. C. 412/1, that is, four years later than the date at which the common story fixed the death of Eupolis. (Schol. Victor. ad Iliad.
The only discoverable foundation for this story, and probably the true account of the poet's death, is the statement of Suidas, that he perished at the Hellespont in the war against the Lacedaemonnians, which, as Meineke observes, must refer either to the battle of Cynossema (B. C. 411), or to that of Aegospotami (B. C. 405).
That he died in the former battle is not improbable, since we never hear of his exhibiting after B. C. 412; and if so, it is very likely that the enemies of Alcibiades might charge him with taking advantage of the confusion of the battle to gratify his revenge. Meineke throws out a conjecture that the story may have arisen from a misunderstanding of what Lysias says about the young Alcibiades (i. p. 541).
There are, however, other accounts of the poet's death, which are altogether different. Aelian (Ael. NA 10.41
) and Tzetzes (Chil.
4.245) relate, that he died and was buried in Aegina, and Pausanias (2.7.4
) says, that he saw his tomb in the territory of Sicyon. Of the personal history of Eupolis nothing more is known. Aelian (l.c.
) tells a pleasant tale of his faithful dog, Augeas, and his slave Ephialtes.
The chief characteristic of the poetry of Eupolis seems to have been the liveliness of his fancy, and the power which he possessed of imparting its images to the audience.
This characteristic of his genius influenced his choice of subjects, as well as his mode of treating them, so that he not only appears to have chosen subjects which other poets might have despaired of dramatizing, but we are expressly told that he wrought into the body of his plays those serious political views which other poets expounded in their parabases,
as in the Δήμοι
, in which he represented the legislators of other times conferring on the administration of the state. To do this in a genuine Attic old comedy, without converting the comedy into a serious philosophic dialogue, must have been a great triumph of dramatic art. (Platon. de Div. Char.
This introduction of deceased persons on the stage appears to have given to the plays of Eupolis a certain dignity, which would have been inconsistent with the comic spirit had it not been relieved by the most graceful and clever merriment. (Platon. l.c.
) In elegance he is said to have even surpassed Aristophanes (Ibid. ; Macr. 7.5
), while in bitter jesting and personal abuse he emulated Cratinus. (Anon. de Com.
p. xxix. ; Pers. Sat.
1.124; Lucian. Jov. Acc.
vol. ii. p. 832.) Among the objects of his satire was Socrates, on whom he made a bitter, though less elaborate attack than that in the Clouds
of Aristophanes. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Nub.
97, 180; Etym. Mag. p.18. 10; Lucian. Pisc.
vol. i. p. 595.) Innocence seems to have afforded no shelter, for he attacked Autolycus, who is said to have been guilty of no crime, and is only known as having been distinguished for his beauty, and as a victor in the pancratium, as vehemently as Callias, Alcibiades, Melanthius, and others. Nor were the dead exempt from his abuse, for there are still extant some lines of his, in which Cimon is most unmercifully treated. (Plut. Cim. 15
; Schol. ad Aristeid.
It is hardly necessary to observe that these attacks were mingled with much obscenity. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Pac.
741, 1142, Nub.
A close relation subsisted between Eupolis and Aristophanes, not only as rivals, but as imitators of each other Cratinus attacked Aristophanes for borrowing from Eupolis, and Eupolis in his Βάπται
made the same charge, especially with reference to the Knights,
of which he says, “κἀκείνους τους Ἱππέας ξυνεποίησα τῷ φαλακρῷ τούτῳ κἀδωρησάμην
”. The Scholiasts specify the last Parabasis of the Knights
as borrowed from Eupolis. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Equit.
528, 1288, Nub.
544, foll.) On the other hand, Aristophanes, in the second (or third) edition of the Clouds,
retorts upon Eupolis the charge of imitating the Knights
in his Maricas
), and taunts him with the further indignity of jesting on his rival's baldness.
There are other examples of the attacks of the two poets upon one another. (Aristoph. Peace 762
, and Schol.; Schol. ad Vesp.
1020; Schol. ad Platon.
p. 331, Bekker; Stobaeus, Serm.
iv. p. 53.)
The number of the plays of Eupolis is stated by Suidas at seventeen, and by the anonymous writer at fourteen.
The extant titles exceed the greater of these numbers, but some of them are very doubtful.
The following fifteen are considered by Meineke to be genuine : Αἶγες
, Ἀστράτευτοι ἢ Ἀνδρογύναι
, Χρυσουν Προσπάλτιοι
, Χρυσουν γένος
An analysis of these plays, so far as their subjects can be ascertained, will be found in the works quoted below, and especially in that of Meineke.
The following are the plays of Eupolis, the dates of which are known :--
Eupolis, like Aristophanes and other comic poets, brought some of his plays on the stage in the name of another person, Apollodorus. (Athen. 5.216
Hephaestion (p. 109, ed. Gaisf.) mentions a peculiar choriambic metre, which was called Eupolidean, and which was also used by the poets of the middle and of the new comedy.
Confusion with Eubulus
The names of Eupolis and Eubulus are often confounded.
Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec. vol. i. pp. 104-146, vol. ii. pp. 426-579
; Bergk, Commment. de Reliq. Com. Att. Ant. pp. 332-366.
Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. ii. pp. 445-448; Clinton, Fast. Hellen.
vol. ii. sub annis.