1. A comic poet, born at Thurii, in Magna Graecia (Suidas s. v. Ἄλ
.), but admitted subsequently to the privileges of an Athenian citizen, and enrolled in the deme Οἶον
, belonging to the tribe Leontis. (Steph. Byz. s. v.
) He was the uncle and instructor of Menander. (Suidas s. v. Ἄλεξις
; Proleg. Aristoph. p. xxx.) When he was born we are not expressly told, but he lived to the age of 106 (Plut. Defect. Orac.
p. 420e.), and was living at least as late as B. C. 288. Now the town of Thurii was destroyed by the Lucanians about B. C. 390.
It is therefore not at all unlikely that the parents of Alexis, in order to escape from the threatened destruction of their city, removed shortly before with their little son to Athens. Perhaps therefore we may assign about B. C. 394 as the date of the birth of Alexis.
He had a son Stephanus, who also wrote comedies. (Suidas l.c.
) He appears to have been rather addicted to the pleasures of the table. (Athen. 8.344
According to Plutarch (De Senis Administ. Reipubl.
p. 785b.), he expired upon the stage while being crowned as victor.
By the old grammarians he is commonly called a writer of the middle comedy, and fragments and the titles of many of his plays confirm this statement. Still, for more than 30 years he was contemporary with Philippides, Philemon, Menander, and Diphilus, and several fragments shew that he also wrote pieces which would be classed with those of the new comedy.
He was a remarkably prolific writer. Suidas says he wrote 245 plays, and the titles of 113 have come down to us.
- The Μεροπίς, Ἀγκυλίων, Ὀλυμπίδωρος, and Παράδιτος, in which he ridiculed Plato, were probably exhibited as early as the 104th Olympiad.
- The Ἀγῶνις, in which he ridiculed Misgolas, was no doubt written while he was alive, and Aeschines (c. Timarch. pp. 6-8) in B. C. 345, speaks of him as then living.
- The Ἀδελφοί and Στοατιώτης, in which he satirized Demosthenes, were acted shortly after B. C. 343.
- The Ἵππος, in which he alluded to the decree of Sophocles against the philosophers, in B. C. 316.
- The Πύραυνος in B. C. 312. The Φαρμακοπώλη and Ὑοβολιμαῖος in B. C. 306.
As might have been expected in a person who wrote so much, the same passage frequently occurred in several plays; nor did he scruple sometimes to borrow from other poets, as, for example, from Eubulus. (Athen. 1.25
f.) Carystius of Pergamus (apud Athen.
vi. p. 235e.) says he was the first who invented the part of the parasite.
This is not quite correct, as it had been introduced before him by Epicharmus ; but he appears to have been the first who gave it the form in which it afterwards appeared upon the stage, and to have been very happy in his exhibition of it. His wit and elegance are praised by Athenaeus (ii. p. 59f.), whose testimony is confirmed by the extant fragments.
A considerable list of peculiar words and forms used by him is given by Meineke. His plays were frequently translated by the Roman comic writers. (Gel. 2.23
The fragments we possess of his plays have been preserved chiefly by Athenaeus and Stobaeus.
Meineke, Fragm. Com. vol. i. pp. 374-403.
Clinton, Fasti Hellenici,
under the years above given; Fabricius, Bibl. Gr.
vol. ii. p. 406, &c.