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Λυκόφρων), the celebrated Alexandrian grammarian and poet, was a native of Chalcis in Euboea, the son of Socles, and the adopted son of the historian Lycus of Rhegium (Suid. s. v.). Other accounts made him the son of Lycus (Tzetz., Chil. 8.481).


Work on the Comic Poets

Lycophron lived at Alexandria, under Ptolemy Philadelphus, who entrusted to him the arrangement of the works of the comic poets contained in the Alexandrian library. In the execution of this commission Lycophron drew up a very extensive work on comedy (περὶ κωμῳδίας), which appears to have embraced the whole subject of the history and nature of the Greek comedy, together with accounts of the comic poets, and, besides this, many matters bearing indirectly on the interpretation of the comedians (Meineke, Hist. Crit. Com. Graec. pp. 9-11). Nothing more is known of his life. Ovid (Ibis, 533) states that he was killed by an arrow.

Tragedies and Satyric Drama

As a poet, Lycophron obtained a place in the Tragic Pleiad; but there is scarcely a fragment of his tragedies extant. Suidas gives the titles of twenty of Lycophron's tragedies; while Tzetzes (Schol. in Lyc. 262, 270) makes their number forty-six or sixty-four. Four lines of his Πελοπίδαι are quoted by Stobaeus (119.13.) He also wrote a satyric drama, entitled Μενέδημος, in which he ridiculed his fellow-countryman, the philosopher Menedemus of Eretria (Ath. x. p. 420b.; D. L. 2.140; comp. Menag. ad loc.), who, nevertheless. highly prized the tragedies of Lycophron (Diog. ii 133).


He is said to have been a very skilful commposer of anagrams, of which he wrote several in honour of Ptolemy and Arsinoe.


The only one of his poems which has come down to us is the Cassandra or Alexandra. This is neither a tragedy nor an epic poem, but a long iambic monologue of 1474 verses, in which Cassandra is made to prophesy the fall of Troy, the adventures of the Grecian and Trojan heroes, with numerous other mythological and historical events, going back as early as the Argonauts, the Amazons, and the fables of Io and Europa, and ending with Alexander the Great.


The work has no pretensions to poetical merit. It is simply a cumbrous store of traditional learning. Its obscurity is proverbial. Suidas calls it σκοτεινὸν ποίημα, and its author himself obtained the epithet σκοτεινός. Its stores of learning and its obscurity alike excited the efforts of the ancient grammarians, several of whom wrote commentaries on the poem: among them were Theon, Dection, and Orus. The only one of these works which survives, is the Scholia of Isaac and John Tzetzes, which are far more valuable than the poem itself.

Lycophron the Tragedian vs. Lycophron the author of the Cassandra

A question has been raised respecting the identity of Lycophron the tragedian and Lycophron the author of the Cassandra. From some lines of the poem (1226, &c., 1446, &c.) which refer to Roman history, Niebuhr was led to suppose that the author could not have lived before the time of Flamininus (about B. C. 190); but Welcker, in an elaborate discussion of. the question, regards the lines as interpolated.


The first printed edition of Lycophron was the Aldine, with Pindar and Callimachus, Venet. 1513, 8vo.; the next was that of Lacisius, with the Scholia, Basil. 1546, fol..

Of the later editions the most important are those of Potter, Oxon. 1697, fol., reprinted 1702; Reichard, Lips. 1788, 2 vols. 8vo.; and Bachmann, Lips. 1828, 2 vols. 8vo.; to which must be added the admirable edition of the Scholia by C. G. Miller, Lips. 1811, 3 vols. 8vo.

Further Information

Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. iii. p. 750; Welcker, die Griech. Tragd. pp. 1256-1263; Bernhardy, Grundriss d. Griech. Lift. vol. ii. pp. 613, 1026-1029.


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190 BC (1)
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