Epitome of Plutarch’s Comparison of Aristophanes and Menander 853a-b, 853c-d, 854a, 854c-d = T 68 Kassel-Austin

How to quote this translation

M = reading of the whole MS tradition
m = reading of part of the MS tradition
P = reading on a papyrus
 

853a-b ὡς μὲν κοινῶς καὶ καθόλου εἰπεῖν πολλῶι προκρίνει τὸν Μένανδρον, ὡς δ’ ἐπὶ μέρους καὶ ταῦτα προστίθησι· τὸ φορτικόν, φησίν, ἐν λόγοις καὶ θυμελικὸν καὶ βάναυσον ὥς ἐστιν Ἀριστοφάνει, Μενάνδρωι δ’ οὐδαμῶς. καὶ γὰρ ὁ μὲν ἀπαίδευτος καὶ ἰδιώτης οἷς ἐκεῖνος λέγει ἁλίσκεται, ὁ δὲ πεπαιδευμένος δυσχερανεῖ· λέγω δὲ τὰ ἀντίθετα καὶ ὁμοιόπτωτα καὶ παρωνυμίας. τούτοις γὰρ ὁ μὲν μετὰ τοῦ προσήκοντος λόγου καὶ ὀλιγάκις χρῆται ἐπιμελείας αὐτὰ ἀξιῶν, ὁ δὲ καὶ πολλάκις καὶ οὐκ εὐκαίρως καὶ ψυχρῶς…

853c-d καὶ πολλὰ τοιαῦτα. ἔνεστι μὲν οὖν ἐν τῆι κατασκευῆι τῶν ὀνομάτων αὐτῶι τὸ τραγικὸν τὸ κωμικόν, τὸ σοβαρὸν τὸ πεζόν, ἀσάφεια κοινότης, ὄγκος καὶ δίαρμα, σπερμολογία καὶ φλυαρία ναυτιώδης. καὶ τοσαύτας διαφορὰς ἔχουσα καὶ ἀνομοιότητας ἡ λέξις οὐδὲ τὸ πρέπον ἑκάστωι ἑκάστωι Hartmann: ἐκάστηι M καὶ οἰκεῖον ἀποδίδωσιν· οἷον λέγω βασιλεῖ τὸν ὄγκον, ῥητορι τὴν δεινότητα, γυναικὶ τὸ ἁπλοῦν, ἰδιώτηι τὸ πεζόν, ἀγοραίωι τὸ φορτικόν· ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ ἀπὸ κλήρου ἀπονέμει τοῖς προσώποις τὰ προστυχόντα τῶν ὀνομάτων, καὶ οὐκ ἂν διαγνοίης εἴθ’ υἱός ἐστιν εἴτε πατὴρ εἴτ’ ἄγροικος εἴτε θεὸς εἴτε γραῦς εἴτε ἥρως ὁ διαλεγόμενος. (2) ἡ δὲ Μενάνδρου φράσις…

854a ὅτι τῶν διδασκόντων οἱ μὲν πρὸς τὸν ὄχλον καὶ τὸν δῆμον γράφουσιν, οἱ δὲ τοῖς ὀλίγοις, τὸ δ’ ἐν ἀμφοῖν δ’ ἐν ἀμφοῖν M: ἐπ’ ἀμφοῖν Pohlenz: δ’ ἓν ἀμφοῖν Wilamowitz ἁρμόττον τοῖς γένεσιν οὐ ῥάιδιον ὅτωι τῶν πάντων ὑπῆρξεν εἰπεῖν. Ἀριστοφάνης μὲν οὖν οὔτε τοῖς πολλοῖς ἀρεστὸς οὔτε τοῖς φρονίμοις ἀνεκτός, ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ ἑταίρας τῆς ποιήσεως παρηκμακύιας, εἶτα μιμουμένης γαμετήν, οὔθ’ οἱ πολλοὶ τὴν αὐθάδειαν ὑπομένουσιν ὑπομένουσιν Reiske: περιμένουσιν M οἵ τε σεμνοὶ βδελύττονται τὸ ἀκόλαστον καὶ κακόηθες. ὁ δὲ Μένανδρος κτλ…

854c-d αἱ Μενάνδρου κωμωιδίαι ἀφθόνων ἁλῶν καὶ ἱερῶν ἱερῶν M: ἱλαρῶν Emperius: πράων Kronenberg: νεαρῶν Luppe μετέχουσιν, ὥσπερ ἐξ ἐκείνης γεγονότων τῆς θαλάττης, ἐξ ἧς ἧς Haupt: ὧν M Ἀφροδίτη γέγονεν. οἱ δ’ Ἀριστοφάνους ἅλες πικροὶ καὶ τραχεῖς ὄντες ἑλκωτικὴν δριμύτητα καὶ δηκτικὴν ἔχουσι· καὶ οὐκ οἶδ’ ἐν οἷς ἔστιν ἡ θρυλουμένη δεξιότης ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ M: αὐτοῦ Wyttenbach, ἐν λόγοις ἢ προσώποις· ἀμέλει καὶ τὰ μεμιμημένα πρὸς τὸ χεῖρον μεμίμηται· τὸ γὰρ πανοῦργον οὐ πολιτικὸν ἀλλὰ κακόηθες, καὶ τὸ ἄγροικον οὐκ ἀφελὲς ἀφελὲς Bryan: ἀσφαλὲς M ἀλλ’ ἠλίθιον, καὶ τὸ γελοῖον οὐ παιγνιῶδες ἀλλὰ καταγέλαστον, καὶ τὸ ἐρωτικὸν, οὐχ ἱλαρὸν ἀλλ’ ἀκόλαστον. οὐδενὶ γὰρ ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἔοικε μετρίωι τὴν ποίησιν γεγραφέναι, ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν αἰσχρὰ καὶ ἀσελγῆ τοῖς †ἀληθεστέροις† ἀληθεστέροις M: ἀκολάστοις Basilius: λαγνιστέροις Kassel: ἀμαθεστέροις Sandbach, τὰ βλάσφημα δὲ καὶ πικρὰ τοῖς βασκάνοις καὶ κακοήθεσιν.

853a-b On the whole and speaking generally, he greatly prefers Menander; as for specific points, he adds the following. He says that in Aristophanes one finds that which is vulgar in speech and theatrical and in bad taste, but not at all in Menander. Indeed, the ordinary man, who lacks education, is captivated by the things Aristophanes says, but the educated person will not be able to endure them. I mean antitheses, echoing endings and plays on names. For Menander employs these with appropriate judgment and sparingly, thinking them worthy of careful consideration; but Aristophanes employs them frequently, at inopportune moments, and ineffectually….

853c-d And many such things. In fact, in his employment of vocabulary one finds the tragic and the comic, the pompous and the pedestrian, obscurity and banality, bombast and elevation, loquacity and nauseating nonsense. And since it has so many registers and lacks any homogeneity, his speech does not even give the appropriate and fitting register to each character. I mean dignity to a king, cleverness to a public speaker, simplicity to a woman, the pedestrian to an ordinary citizen, the vulgar to a trader: but, as if by lot, he assigns to his characters whatever vocabulary he happens upon, and you could not know whether the person speaking is a son or father or farmer or god or old woman or hero. (2) But as for Menander’s style…

854a <He says> that some dramatic poets write for the masses and the people, whilst others compose for the few, but of all writers it is hard to name one whose linguistic usage is suitable in both contexts. Indeed, Aristophanes is neither acceptable to the many nor is he tolerable for men of sense, but his poetry is like a hetaira who is past her prime and then pretends to be a married woman: the many cannot abide her audacity, whilst more respectable types find her lack of restraint and bad manners abominable. But as for Menander…

854c-d The comedies of Menander partake of boundless and sacred salty wit, as if born from the selfsame sea as Aphrodite. But Aristophanes’ saltiness, being briny and rough, has a sharpness and bite that causes ulcers and stings. And I do not know where that cleverness of his that he goes on about is to be found—in his words or his characters. Never mind, for even in his imitations he makes things worse than they actually are. For he makes the knave not urbane but base, and the rustic is not naïve but simple-minded; and the laughable is not playful but contemptible, and the erotic is not joyful but wanton. For the poet does not seem to have composed his poetry for anyone who has measure, but his shameful and licentious lines are written for the †…† and his blasphemous and vindictive ones for the malicious and abominable.

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