Aristophanes, Knights 507-36
εἰ μέν τις ἀνὴρ τῶν ἀρχαίων κωμωιδοδιδάσκαλος ἡμᾶς
ἠνάγκαζεν λέξοντας ἔπη πρὸς τὸ θέατρον παραβῆναι,
οὐκ ἂν φαύλως ἔτυχεν τούτου· νῦν δ’ ἄξιος ἐσθ’ ὁ ποιητής,
ὅτι τοὺς αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν μισεῖ τολμᾶι τε λέγειν τὰ δίκαια,510
καὶ γενναίως πρὸς τὸν Τυφῶ χωρεῖ καὶ τὴν ἐριώλην.
ἃ δὲ θαυμάζειν ὑμῶν φησιν πολλοὺς αὐτῶι προσιόντας
καὶ βασανίζειν, ὡς οὐχὶ πάλαι χορὸν αἰτοίη καθ’ ἑαυτόν,
ἡμᾶς ὑμῖν ἐκέλευε φράσαι περὶ τούτου. φησὶ γὰρ ἁνὴρ
οὐχ ὑπ’ ἀνοίας τοῦτο πεπονθὼς διατρίβειν, ἀλλὰ νομίζων515
κωμωιδοδιδασκαλίαν εἶναι χαλεπώτατον ἔργον ἁπάντων·
πολλῶν γὰρ δὴ πειρασάντων αὐτὴν ὀλίγοις χαρίσασθαι·
ὑμᾶς τε πάλαι διαγιγνώσκων ἐπετείους τὴν φύσιν ὄντας
καὶ τοὺς προτέρους τῶν ποιητῶν ἅμα τῶι γήραι προδιδόντας·
τοῦτο μὲν εἰδὼς ἅπαθε Μάγνης ἅμα ταῖς πολιαῖς κατιούσαις,520
ὃς πλεῖστα χορῶν τῶν ἀντιπάλων νίκης ἔστησε τροπαῖα·
πάσας δ’ ὑμῖν φωνὰς ἱεὶς καὶ ψάλλων καὶ πτερυγίζων
καὶ λυδίζων καὶ ψηνίζων A reference to Magnes’ comedy Psenes (Fruit Flies) καὶ βαπτόμενος βατραχείοις
οὐκ ἐξήρκεσεν, ἀλλὰ τελευτῶν ἐπὶ γήρως, οὐ γὰρ ἐφ’ ἥβης,
ἐξεβλήθη πρεσβύτης ὤν, ὅτι τοῦ σκώπτειν ἀπελείφθη·525
εἶτα Κρατίνου μεμνημένος, ὃς πολλῶι ῥεύσας ποτ’ ἐπαίνωι
διὰ τῶν ἀφελῶν πεδίων ἔρρει, καὶ τῆς στάσεως παρασύρων
ἐφόρει τὰς δρῦς καὶ τὰς πλατάνους καὶ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς προθελύμνους·
ἆισαι δ’ οὐκ ἦν ἐν συμποσίωι πλὴν “Δωροῖ συκοπέδιλε,”
καὶ “τέκτονες εὐπαλάμων ὕμνων·” οὕτως ἤνθησεν ἐκεῖνος.530
νυνὶ δ’ ὑμεῖς αὐτὸν ὁρῶντες παραληροῦντ’ οὐκ ἐλεεῖτε,
ἐκπιπτουσῶν τῶν ἠλέκτρων καὶ τοῦ τόνου οὐκέτ’ ἐνόντος
τῶν θ’ ἁρμονιῶν διαχασκουσῶν· ἀλλὰ γέρων ὢν περιέρρει,
ὥσπερ Κοννᾶς, “στέφανον μὲν ἔχων αὗον, δίψηι δ’ ἀπολωλώς,”
ὃν χρῆν διὰ τὰς προτέρας νίκας πίνειν ἐν τῶι πρυτανείωι,535
καὶ μὴ ληρεῖν, ἀλλὰ θεᾶσθαι λιπαρὸν παρὰ τῶι Διονύσωι.
If some comic producer of old had forced us to turn and speak verses to the theatre, he would not have achieved this easily. But in this case the poet is worthy, because he hates the same people we do and dares to say just things, and advances nobly against Typhoeus and the hurricane. But concerning something which he says many of you who are puzzled approach and question him about, that he has not previously asked for a chorus in his own right, he bids us speak to you about this. For the man says that he did not waste time putting up with this because he was stupid, but because he believed that producing comedies was the hardest task of all. For, although many have made an attempt on her, she has given her favours to few. And he has long known well that by nature you are changeable as the seasons and that you have betrayed earlier poets as soon as they grew old.
Knowing what Magnes endured as soon as his grey hairs appeared—the poet who set up the most victory trophies over his rivals’ choruses. Although, for your benefit, he made every kind of sound—plucking, beating his wings, speaking Lydian, buzzing like a fruit-fly, and being dyed the colour of frogs—his efforts were not enough: in old age (it certainly would not have happened during his youth) he ended up being driven off the stage—an old man—because his jokes had not made the cut. Cratinus also comes to mind, who, once, riding the crest of your praise, coursed through the level plains, sweeping up oaks, plane trees, and enemies from where they stood, and carrying them along roots and all. One couldn’t sing anything in the symposium but ‘Informer-Sandalled Goddess of Bribery’ and ‘Craftsmen of Skilful Hymns’: such was his efflorescence. But now you have no pity when you see him raving, his lyre pegs falling out, its pitch off and the strings all loose. He’s slipping away, an old man, like Connas, “having a withered garland and dying of thirst,” when, on account of his former victories, he ought to be drinking in the Prytaneum, and not talking nonsense but sitting anointed as a spectator beside Dionysus.