), the Athenian demagogue, was, according to Androtion, son of Antiphanes; according to Theopompus, son of Chremes, and brother of Charon. (Schol. ad Lucian, Tim.
30, and ad Aristoph. Pac.
The father, if we may believe an extract from the speech of Andocides against Nicocles (Harpocration, and Schol. ad Aristoph. Vesp.
1007), was at the very time of the son's political notoriety at work in the Mint as a public slave. His mother sold bread, and he made lamps. One scholiast (ad Aristoph. Nub.
1065), but perhaps by an ignorant conjecture, tells us that he used to cheat his customers by using lead instead of brass.
Our first notice of him occurs in B. C. 425, the seventh year of the Peloponnesian War, a year marked by the capture of the Spartans at Sphacteria, and the culmination of the power of Cleon. Among the plagues of that time, Aristophanes (Aristoph. Ach. 846
) records "the law-suits of Hyperbolus." In 424, in the Knights, a senior trireme on behalf of the navy expresses consternation at the prospect of being sent under his command to Chalcedon.
This is, perhaps, only an inuendo at Cleon. Further on, the reformed Demus declares a devout intention of making an end of him. (Equit.
In the same character of a thriving litigant, he is named again in the Wasps (B. C. 422), and Clouds (Vesp.
874, 1065), in which latter play he is also said to have held that year the office of Amphictyonic Hieromnemon; but what that year was, the uncertainty of the date of any particular passage in the Clouds makes it hard to say.
In some of its latest additions, dating after B. C. 421, the great comedian speaks with compassionate contempt of the way in which his own bold attack on Cleon had been travestied in the case of the pitiful Hyperbolus.
He and his mother were the subject of the " Maricas" of Eupolis, and of a play, it appears, of Hermippus, called the " Breadwomen." (Nub.
549-560, and Schol.) To these attacks the Scholiast on Lucian (Tim.
30) adds that of Polyzelus, in the Demotyndareos; Cratinus, in the " Horae," where he rebuked him for his early appearance as a speaker in the assembly; Eupolis in the "Cities," and Plato in the Hyperbolus. Cratinus died B. C. 422, and had also named him in the "Pytine," B. C. 422. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Pac.
691.) The "Maricas " of Eupolis was acted B. C. 421, a few months after the death of Cleon, and just before the peace of Nicias; and to the ensuing period, in which Hyperbolus was struggling for the demagogic throne of Cleon, most of the other plays may be referred. Aristophanes recurs to him in the Peace, B. C. 419, and calls him there "the present master of the stone in the Pnyx," but only for lack of a better, and presently promises to celebrate the arrival of " Peace" by driving him out. (Pax,
681, 921, 1320. Compare further Thesmoph.
577. and Schol. ad Plut.
The influence of Nicias and Alcibiades seems to have been too great to leave much room for Hyperboius: indeed he was, it would seem, quite inferior in ability to Cleon.
In the hope of getting rid of one at least of these rivals, he called, as appears from Plutarch, for the exercise of the ostracism.
But the parties endangered, whether Nicias and Alcibiades, or the latter and Phaeax, as stated by Theophrastus, combined to defeat him, and the vote of exile fell on Hyperbolus himself: an application of that dignified punishment by which it was thought to have been so debased that the use of it was never recurred to.
As the comic poet Plato, probably in his " Hyperbolus," wrote: " His fate was worthy of his courses, But of himself and his slave-brand unworthy; Not for the like of him was meant the sherd." (Plut. Arist. 7
This appears to have happened just before the sailing of the first expedition to Sicily, B. C. 416 or 415. (Comp. Theophr. apud Schol. ad Aristoph. Vesp.
1007, and ad Lucian, Tim.
He seems to have retired to Samos; and in Samos, in the year 411 B. C., the members of a plot for restoring oligarchy theremurdered him, more a s a bond among themselves than because of his importance. Thucydides confirms here (8.74) the story of Plutarch, styling Hyperbolus " a worthless character, who had been ostracised not through apprehension of power and repute, but for his villainy's sake, and the shame of the city."
According to Theopompus(l.c.
), his body was put in a sack, and thrown into the sea. Andocides (l.c.
) calls him a foreigner and barbarian; and the comedians assign him to Lydia, Phrygia, Syria. Three verses from Plato's " Hyperbolus" (ap. Herod. περὶ μον. λεξ.
p. 20), which, to all appearance, speak of him, are worth quoting: --
ὁ δ᾽ οὐ γὰρ ἠττίκιζεν, ᾧ Μοῦσαι φίλαι,
ἀλλ᾽ ὁπότε μὲν χρείη διῃτώμην λέγειν,
ἔφασκε δητώμην, ὁπότε δ᾽ εἰπεῖν δέοι
ὄλιγον, ἔλεγεν ὄλιον.
(See Meineke, Quaest. Scen.
ii. p. 26.)