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1. Of Ephesus, the son of Pytheus and Protis, was, after Archilochus and Simonides, the third of the classical Iambic poets of Greece. (Suid. s.v. Strabo xiv. p.642 ; Clem. Alex. Strom. i. p. 308d.; Procl. Chrestom. ap. Phot. Bibl. 239, p. 319, 29, ed. Bekker; Solin. 40.16.) He is ranked among the writers of the Ionic dialect. (Gram. Leid. ad calcem Gregor. Cor. p. 629; comp. Tzetz. Proleg. ad Lycoph. 690.) The exact date of Hipponax is not agreed upon, but it can be fixed within certain limits. The Parian marble (Ep. 43) makes him contemporary with the taking of Sardis by Cyrus (B. C. 546) : Pliny (36.5. s. 4.2) places him at the 60th Olympiad, B. C. 540: Proclus (l.c.) says that he lived under Dareius (B. C. 521-485) : Eusebius (Chron. Ol. 23), following an error already pointed out by Plutarch (de Mus. 6, vol. ii. p. 1133c. d.), made him a contemporary of Terpander; and Diphilus, the comic poet, was guilty of (or rather he assumed as a poetic licence) the same anachronism in representing both Archilochus and Hipponax as the lovers of Sappho. (Athen. 13.599d.) Hipponax, then, lived in the latter half of the sixth century B. C., about half a century after Solon, and a century and a half later than Archilochus.

Like others of the early poets, Hipponax was distinguished for his love of liberty. The tyrants of his native city, Athenagoras and Comas, having expelled him from his home, he took up his abode at Clazomenae, for which reason he is sometimes called a Clazomenian. (Sulpicia, Sat. 5.6.) He there lived in great poverty, and, according to one account, died of want.

In person, Hipponax was little, thin, and ugly, but very strong. (Athen. 12.552c. d.; Ael. VH 10.6; Plin. l.c.) His natural defects, like the disappointment in love of Archilochus, furnished the occasion for the development of his satirical powers. The punishment of the daughters of Lycambes by the Parian poet finds its exact parallel in the revenge which Hipponax took on the brothers Bupalus and Athenis. These brothers, who were sculptors of Chios, made statues of Hipponax, in which they caricatured his natural ugliness ; and he in return directed all the power of his satirical poetry against them, and especially against Bupalus. (Plin. l.c.; Horat. Epod. 6.14 ; Lucian, Pseudol. 2; Philip. Epiyr. in Anth. Pal. 7.405; Brunck. Anal. vol. ii. p. 235; Julian. Epist. 30; Schol. ad Aristoph. Av. 575; Suid. s. v.) Later writers improved upon the resemblance between the stories of Archilochus and Hipponax, by making the latter poet a rejected suitor of the daughter of Bupalus, and by ascribing to the satire of Hipponax the same fatal effect as resulted from that of Archilochus. (Acron. ad Horat. l.c.) Pliny (l.c.) contradicts the story of the suicide of Bupalus by referring to works of his which were executed at a later period. As for the fragment of Hipponax (Fr. vi. p. 29, Welcker) Κλασομένοιοι, Βούπαλος κατέκτειθεν, if it be his (for it is only quoted anonymously by Rufinus, p. 2712, Putsch.), instead of being considered a proof of the story, it should more probably be regarded as having formed, through a too literal interpretation, one source of the error.



The most striking feature in the satirical Iambics of Hipponax is the change which he made in the metre, by introducing a Spondee or Trochee in the last foot, instead of an Iambus. This change made the verse irregular in its rhythm (ἄρρυθμον), and gave it a sort of halting movement, whence it was called the Choliambus (Χωλιαμβός, lame iambic), or Iambus Scazon (σκάσων, limping). By this change the Iambic Trimeter was converted into Much ingenuity has been expended in the explanation of the effect of this change; but only let the reader recite, or rather chaunt, a few verses of Hipponax according to the above rhythm, and he will have little difficulty in perceiving how admirably adapted it is to the warm, but playful satire of the poet. He introduces similar variations into the other Iambic metres, and into the Trochaic Tetrameter.

When the variation on the sixth foot of the trimeter coexists with a spondee in the fifth place, the verse becomes still more irregular, and can, in fact, hardly be considered an Iambic verse, but is rather a. combination of an iambic diameter with a trochaic monometer. Such lines are called by the grammarians Ischiorrhogic (broken-backed) : they are very rarely used by Hipponax. The choliambics of Hipponax were imitated by many later writers: among others, the Fables of Babrius are composed entirely in this metre. (Clem. Al. Strom. i. p. 308. d.; Cic. Orat. 56; Athen. 15.701f.; and the Latin grammarians, see Welcker, p. 18; Böckh, de Metr. Pind. p. 151.) A few of the extant lines of Hipponax are in the pure iambic metre; but there is no evidence that he used such verses in connection with choliambi in the same poem.

Poems besides his choliambi

We know, from Suidas, that he wrote other poems besides his choliambi and his parody. His choliambi formed two books, if not more. (Bekker, Anecd. vol. i. p. 85; Pollux, 10.18.) The other poems mentioned by Suidas were probably lyrical. (See Welcker, p. 24.) As to parody, of which Suidas and Polemo (Athen. 15.698b.) make him the inventor (though it is self-evident that the origin of parody is much older), we possess the opening of a poem in heroic metre which he composed as a parody on the Iliad. (Athen. l.c.) The Achilles of the parody is an Ionian glutton, and the object of the poet seems to have been to satirize the luxury of the Ionians. (See Mozer, Ueber d. parod. Poes. d. Griech. in Daub and Creuzer's Studien, vol. vi. p. 267, Heidelb. 1811.)

Objects of Hipponax' satire

The choliambics of Hipponax, though directed chiefly against the artists Bupalus and Athenis, embraced also other objects of attack. He severely chastised the effeminate luxury of his Ionian brethren; he did not spare his own parents; and he ventured even to ridicule the gods. The ancients seem to have regarded him as the bitterest and most unkindly of all satirists, generally coupling his name with the epithet πικρός. (Eustath. in Od. xi. p. 1684, 51, et alib.; Cic. Epist. ad Fam. 7.24.) Leonidas of Tarentum, in an elegant epigram, warns travellers not to pass too near his tomb, lest they rouse the sleeping wasp (Brunck. Anal. vol. i. p. 246, No. 97); and Alcaeus of Messene says that his grave, instead of being covered, like that of Sophocles, with ivy, and the vine, and climbing roses, should be planted with the thorn and thistle. (Brunck, Anal. vol. i. p. 490, No. 18.) But Theocritus, probably with greater truth, warns the wicked alone to beware of his tomb, and invites the good to sit near it without fear, applying to the poet at the same time the honourable epithet of μουσοποιός. (Brunck, Anal. vol. i. p. 382, No. 20.)


Hipponax may be said to occupy a middle place between Archilochus and Aristophanes. He is as bitter, but not so earnest, as the former, while in lightness and jocoseness he more resembles the latter. Archilochus, in his greatest fury, never forgets his dignity: Hipponax, when most bitter, is still sportive. This extends to his language, which abounds with common words. Like most satirists, he does not spare the female sex, as, for instance, in the celebrated couplet in which he says that " there are two happy days in the life of a married man--that in which he receives his wife, and that in which he carries out her corpse."


There are still extant about a hundred lines of his poems, which are collected by Welcker (Hipponactis et Ananü Iambographorum Fragmenta, Goetting. 1817, 8vo.), Bergk (Poetae Lyrici Graeci, Schneidewin (Delect. Poes. Graec., and by Meineke, in Lachmann's edition of Babrius. (Babrü Fat. Aesop. C. Lachmannus et amic. emend., ceteror. poet. chcliamb. ab A. Meinekio coll. et emend. Berol. 1845.)

Ancient Grammarians on Hipponax

Several ancient grammarians wrote in Hipponax, especially Hermippus of Smyrna. (Schol. ad Arist. Pac. 484; Athen. 7.327. b, c.)

Close assocation -- and confusion -- Ananius

Contemporary with Hipponax was another iambic poet, Ananius or Ananias. The two poets are so closely connected with one another that, of the existing fragments, it is sometimes impossible to determine which belongs to the one and which to the other.

The invention of the choliambus is by some ascribed to Ananius. One grammarian attributes the regular Choliambus to H ipponax, and the Ischiorrhogic verse to Ananius (see Tyrwhitt, Dissert. de Babrio, p. 17), but no reliance can be placed on this statement. The fragments of Ananius accompany those of Hipponax in the collections mentioned above. (Welcker, as above cited ; Müller, Hist. of Lit. of Greece, pp. 141-143 ; Ulrici, Gesch. d. Hellen. Dichtkunst, vol. ii. pp. 308-316; Bode, Gesch. d. Hellen. Dichtkunst, vol. ii. pt. 1, pp. 330-344.)

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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 36.5
    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 10.6
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