Menander (Greek: Μένανδρος; 342 BC – 291 BC), Greek dramatist, the chief representative of the New Comedy, was born in Athens. He was the author of more than a hundred comedies, most of which are lost. Only one play, Dyskolos, has survived in its entirety.
- Riches cover a multitude of woes.
- The Boeotian Girl, fragment 90.
- ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος
- At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool.
- Those Offered for Sale, fragment 421.
- The truth sometimes not sought for comes forth to the light.
- The Girl Who Gets Flogged, fragment 422.
- ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεὸς [ἡμῖν] ἐπεφάνηϛ
- You are by your epiphany a veritable "god from the machine."
- The Woman Possessed with a Divinity, fragment 227, as translated in Menander: The Principal Fragments (1921) by Francis Greenleaf Allinson; this is one of the earliest occurrences of the phrase which became famous in its Latin form as "Deus ex machina."
- τὰ σῦκα σῦκα, τὴν σκάφην σκάφην...
- I call a fig a fig, a spade a spade.
- Unidentified fragment 545 K (K = T. Kock, Comicorum Atticorum Fragmenta, 3 vols. (Leipzig 1880/8)), as translated in Menander: The Principal Fragments (1921) by Francis Greenleaf Allinson.
- Marriage, if one will face the truth, is an evil, but a necessary evil.
- Unidentified fragment 651.
- It is not white hair that engenders wisdom.
- Unidentified fragment 639.
- οὐ γὰρ ἔρχεται μόνον
- [Old age] never comes alone.
- Monosticha (491).
- Health and intellect are the two blessings of life.
- The man who runs may fight again.
- Variant translation: The man who runs away will fight again.
- Take notice, Pheidias, that you are human yourself, and that the wretched man is also human, in order that you may not covet what's beyond you. But when you say that you suffer from insomnia, you'll know the cause if you'll examine yourself what man you are. You take a stroll in the market-place; you come in forthwith; if your two legs are tired you take a luxurious bath; you rise up and eat greedily at pleasure; your life itself is a sleep. In fine, you have no ill; your disease is luxury through which you have passed — but something rather hackneyed, my young master, occurs to me — please excuse me — as the saying goes, you know, you are so crowded by your blessings, know it well, that you have no room to defecate.
- The Ghost, 31-43.
- This man has lived here
a reasonably long time and has gladly talked in his life
to no one, has spoken first to no one
except — of necessity, since he is a neighbor and passes by — me,
Pan. And he immediately regrets it,
- Rest assured,
for every piece of business the most businesslike thing is
to choose the right moment.
- To say more than what's necessary
I don't think is appropriate for a man. Except know this, child —
for I wish to tell you a little about me and my character —
if everyone were like me there wouldn't be law courts,
and they wouldn't take them away to prisons,
and there wouldn't be wars, but having goods in measure each man would be happy.
But perhaps those things are more pleasing. Act that way.
This difficult and grouchy old man will be out of your way.
- Variant translation: I don't hold with people saying more than they need; but there is one thing more, my child, that I'd like you to know. I just want to say a few things to you about life, and the way people behave. You know, if we were all kind to one another, there'd be no need for law courts, there'd be no arresting people and putting them into prison, and there would be no more war. Everyone would have his little bit, and be content. But maybe you like modern ways better? Well, live that way, then! This difficult and bad-tempered old man will soon be out of the way.
- As translated by William Geoffrey Arnott.
- Even if you were a softy, you took the mattock, you dug,
you were willing to work. In this part he most shows himself a man,
whoever tolerates making himself equal to another,
rich to poor. For this man will bear a change of fortune
with self-control. You have given a sufficient proof of your character.
I wish only that you remain as you are.
Quotes about Menander
- ὦ Μένανδρε καὶ βίε,
πότερος ἄρ' ὑμῶν πότερον ἐμιμήσατο;
- Menander and life,
which of you imitated which?
- Aristophanes of Byzantion, Testimonia 32 K–T, as quoted in The Making of Menander's Comedy (1980) by Sander M. Goldberg, p. 109
- Menander and life,
- Menander's charm makes him utterly satisfying, for in these works that present with universal appeal the splendours of Greece, society finds its culture, the schools their study, the theatre its triumph. The nature and possibilities of literary elegance were by him revealed for the first time. He has invaded every quarter of the world with his invincible glamour, bringing all hearts under the sway of the Greek language. What sound reason does the cultivated man ever find for entering a theatre, except Menander?
- Plutarch, as quoted in Dramatic Criticism (1939) by S. R. Littlewood, p. 82
- An English translation of Dyskolos
- Menander: Monosticha / Sententiae / Einzelverse Sentences from Menander's work in the original Greek and translated in Latin and German
- SORGLL: Menander, Dyskolos, 711-747; read by Mark Miner