), of ATHENS, a comic poet, of the old comedy, was a younger contemporary of Cratinus, in whose plays he was the principal actor before he betook himself to writing comedies. (D. L. 4.23
; Aristoph. Kn. 536
, and Schol.; Anon. de Com.
He began to flourish in Ol. 82. 4, B. C. 449, 448 (Euseb. Chron.
), and is spoken of by Aristophanes in such a way as to imply that he was dead before the Knights
was acted, Ol. 88. 4, B. C. 424.
With respect to the character of his dramas, there is a passage in Aristotle (Aristot. Poet. 5
) which has been misunderstood, but which seems simply to mean, that, instead of making his comedies vehicles of personal abuse, he chose such subjects as admitted of a more general mode of depicting character.
This is confirmed by the titles and fragments of his plays and by the testimony of the Anonymous writer on Comedy respecting his imitator, Pherecrates (p. xxix). His great excellence is attested by Aristophanes, though in a somewhat ironical tone (l.c.;
comp. Ath. iii. p. 117c.), and by the fragments of his plays.
He excelled chiefly in mirth and fun (Aristoph. l.c.;
Anon. de Com. l.c.
), which he carried so far as to bring drunken persons on the stage, a thing which Epicharmus had done, but which no Attic comedian had ventured on before. (Ath. x. p. 429a.) His example was followed by Aristophanes and by later comedians ; and with the poets of the new comedy it became a very common practice. (Dion Chrysost. Orat.
32, p. 391b.) Like the other great comic poets, he was made to feel strongly both the favour and the inconstancy of the people. (Aristoph. l.c.
) The Scholiast on this passage says, that Crates used to bribe the spectators,--a charge which Meineke thinks may have been taken from some comic poet who was an enemy to Crates.
There is much confusion among the ancient writers about the number and titles of his plays. Suidas has made two comic poets of the name, but there can be little doubt that he is wrong. Other grammarians assign to him seven and eight comedies respectively. (Anon. de Com.
pp. xxix, xxxiv.)
The result of Meineke's analysis of the statements of the ancient writers is, that fourteen plays are ascribed to Crates, namely, Γείτονες
, of which the following are suspicious, Διόνυσος
, thus leaving eight, the number mentioned by the Anonymous writer on Comedy, namely, Γείτονες
. Of these eight plays fragments are still extant.
There are also seventeen fragments, which cannot be assigned to their proper plays.
The language of Crates is pure, elegant, and simple, with very few peculiar words and constructions.
He uses a very rare metrical peculiarity, namely, a spondaic ending to the anapaestic tetrameter. (Poll. 6.53; Athen. 3.119
c.; Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec.
i. pp. 58-66, ii. pp. 231-251; Bergk, Comment. de Reliq. Comm. Att. Antiq.