), to whom the origin of the Attic Comedy is ascribed, is said to have been the son of Philinus, and a native of Tripodiscus, a village in the Megaric territory, whence he removed into Attica, to the village of Icaria, a place celebrated as a seat of the worship of Dionysus. (Ath. ii. p. 40b.; Schol. Il. 22.29
This account agrees with the claim which the Megarians asserted to the invention of comedy, and which was generally admitted. (Aristot. Poet. 3.5
; Aspasius, ad Aristot. Eth. Nic.
4.2; Dict. of Antiq.
p. 342, 2d ed.)
Before the time of Susarion there was, no doubt, practised, at Icaria and the other Attic villages, that extempore jesting and buffoonery which formed a marked feature of the festivals of Dionysus; but Susarion was the first who so regulated this species of amusement, as to lay the foundation of Comedy, properly so called.
The time at which this important step was taken can be determined within pretty close limits. The Megaric comedy appears to have flourished, in its full developement, about Ol. 45 or 46, B. C. 600 and onwards; and it was introduced by Susarion into Attica between Ol. 50 and 54, B. C. 580-564. (Plut. Sol. 10; Marm. Par.
Ep. 39; Meineke, Hist. Crit. Com. Graec.
pp. 19, 20.)
The Megaric comedy appears to have consisted chiefly in coarse and bitter personal jests, and broad buffoonery, and this character it retained long after its offspring, the Attic comedy, had be come more refined. (Meineke, pp. 20-24.)
That the comedy of Susarion partook of a like rudeness and buffoonery might reasonably be supposed, even if it were not expressly asserted by ancient writers (Anon. de Com.
p. xxxii.; Diomed. Grammat. iii. p. 486); but there can be no doubt that. in his hands, a great and decided advance was made in the character of the composition, which now in fact, for the first time, deserved that name. One change, which he introduced, is alone sufficient to mark the difference between an unregulated exercise of wit and an orderly composition; he was the first who adopted the metrical form of language for comedy (τῆς ἐμμέτρου κωμᾡδίας ἀρχηγὸς ἐγένετο
, Schol. Dion. Thrac.
p. 748; Tzetzes, apud Cramer. Anecd.
vol. iii. p. 336; Schol. Hermog. ap.
Reisk. Orat. Graec.
vol. viii. p. 959; Bentley, Phal.
) It is not, however, to be inferred that the comedies of Susarion were written; Bentley has shown that the contrary is probably true. They were brought forward solely through the medium of the chorus, which Susarion, doubtless, subjected to certain rules. (Marm. Par.
vv. 54, 55, as restored by Böckh, Corp. Inscr.
vol ii. p. 301.)
It seems most probable that his plays were not acted upon waggons. (Meineke, p. 25.) Of the nature of his subjects we know nothing for certain; but it can hardly be conceived that his comedies were made up entirely of the mere jests which formed the staple of the Megaric comedy; although there could only have been a very imperfect approach to anything like connected argument or plots, for Aristotle expressly tells us that Crates was the first who made λόγους ἢ μύθους
The improvements of Susarion, then, on the Megaric comedy, which he introduced into Attica, may be said to have consisted in the substitution of premeditated metrical compositions for irregular extemporaneous effusions. and the regulation of the chorus to some extent.
It was long before this new species of composition took firm root in Attica ; for we hear nothing more of it until eight years after the time of Susarion, where the art revived in the hands of Euetes, Euxenides, and Myllus, at the very time when the Dorian comedy was developed by Epicharmus in Sicily. (Meineke. Hist. Crit. Com. Graec.