Theognidea and Megarian Society

[This article was originally published in 1985 by The Johns Hopkins University Press as Chapter 5 of Theognis of Megara: Poetry and the Polis (ed. by T. Figueria and G. Nagy) 112–158. Baltimore. This version is updated from that made available at the Stoa Consortium. In it, the original page-numbers of the printed version are indicated within braces (“{” and “}”). For example, “{112|113}” indicates where p. 112 of the printed version ends and p. 113 begins.]
§1. The analysis of Theognis has always been inextricably bound with the reconstruction of Megarian history, so that it is not surprising that historical observation and textual exegesis have consistently been applied together in analyses of the Theognidea. [1] In any such application, there emerges a single central problem, namely, the relationship of the political, social, and historiographical traditions of Megara to the content of the Theognidea. The standard approach has been to combine individual sections of Theognis (often chosen arbitrarily) with the few attested data on seventh- or sixth-century Megara in order to create a political-literary biography of Theognis, an individual Megarian aristocrat held to be the author of the corpus or, at least, of some original authentic core of it. [2]
§2. This line of investigation, for reasons that will become clear below, obstructs rather than clarifies the relationship between Megara and Theognis. The corpus reflects history obliquely, developing in its own ideological terms and preserving vestiges of previous social situations. The Theognidean vision of Megarian realities was at every time highly selective. Thus, the focus must be on ideology throughout, because Megara was the contest ground for two opposing understandings of how a good society is to operate. Ideological systems are {112|113} generated to explain, both to their adherents and to others, the lives in society of those who adopt them. In the case of Megara, exigencies created by external forces (see below §49) intervened to make local ideology, perhaps already in crisis, irrelevant for state policy (cf. the Chronological Table, Notes P, R, S). The historical existence of the Megarians diverged from their inner lives, as represented in part by the value system of the Theognidea. I shall attempt below to explore the place of the poetry of Theognis both in traditions of the Megarians about their community’s past and in the social history of Megara.

Megarian Traditions about their Past

§3. In any examination of the early history of Greek poleis, a prominent topic for discussion is always the nature and state of preservation of local traditions. For Megara, this is especially critical, as other potential sources of information (historiographical, archaeological, numismatic, epigraphical, and topographical: see the Chronological Table for the relevant citations) are scarce. Four types of witness can be adduced in an investigation of archaic Megarian history. [3] The first class is the least controversial and need be mentioned only briefly. The Atthidographers, local historians of Attica (often standing anonymously behind later accounts), provide information about the conflicts of Megara with Athens over Salamis and the Hiera Orgas, a border area of Eleusis sacred to the goddess Demeter which adjoined Megara and was supposedly encroached upon by the Megarians (see the Chronological Table, Notes H, I). They also inform us about the involvement of Solon and Peisistratos in the vindication of Athenian claims in border disputes with Megara. The historiographical problems to be faced here are not unique: chronological confusion over the successive stages of a protracted struggle, the tendency to assign Solon the responsibility for any solid accomplishment of the Athenians before 500, and ambivalence over the proper evaluation of Peisistratos. The other three classes of evidence will call for more detailed discussion. They are Aristotle’s Constitution of the Megarians; the Megareis, writers of Megarian local histories (Megarika); and the corpus of the Theognidea itself.

The Constitution of the Megarians

§4. The Constitution of the Megarians is attested in Strabo 7.7.2 C322 (= Aristotle fr. 550 [Rose]). By convention, it is assigned to {113|114} Aristotle, although it is apparent that he cannot have researched or written every “Constitution” of the collection. The citation of Strabo merely informs us that the “Constitution” existed but tells us little about its content except that a pre-Greek people, the Leleges, were mentioned (Pausanias 1.39.6 = FGH 487 F 3; Ovid Metamorphoses 7.443, 8.6). A subjective judgment of the importance of Megara might lead to the argument that a student of Aristotle (cf. below, §§36–37), not the philosopher himself, would have written the Constitution. One may compare the argument to the effect that Aristotle must be author of the Constitution of the Athenians. Still, general evidence on the attribution of the “Constitutions” is lacking. The Constitution of the Megarians is known primarily through the use of it made by Plutarch in the Greek Questions, (Moralia 295A–D, 304E–F). [4] Questions 16, 17, 18 and 59 treat Megarian history. [5] To these may be compared the notices of Aristotle on Megara and on its tyrant Theagenes in the Politics (1305a24–26) and again on Theagenes in the Rhetoric (1357b31–35). Regarding Theagenes, Aristotle in the Politics and the Rhetoric is primarily concerned with the typology of tyranny: how tyrants achieve popularity (e.g., hostility to the rich), what they use as stepping stones (e.g., procurement of a bodyguard), and how well they maintain their power. Aristotle is also concerned in the Politics with the circumstances under which constitutions change. Thus, the fall of the democracy (probably that of the sixth century) at Megara was of interest to him (1300a17–19, 1302b31, 1304b35–39). These notices dovetail with Plutarch’s Question 18, which concerns the Palintokia ‘Back-Interest’ (where the interest paid by debtors to their creditors was to be paid back). Question 18 mentions at its start the fall of Theagenes. To 18 is linked 59, which begins with a reference to the extreme democracy and to the Palintokia, treated in 18. Another reference to Megara can also be mentioned at this juncture. In the Poetics (1448a29–b2), Aristotle introduces a claim that the Megarians originated the genre of {114|115} comedy. As will be seen below, the Megarika have been suggested as the source for this passage. These references to Megarian history by Aristotle outside the Constitution must be kept in mind while the Constitution of the Megarians is considered. The Constitution of the Athenians in its historical section, chapters 1–41, is drawn from the Atthidographers, local Athenian historians; therefore the Megarian local historians are the obvious candidates for the sources of the Constitution of the Megarians.

Megarian Local History

§5. A consideration of the source(s) of the Constitution of the Megarians can only be attempted after the surviving fragments of the Megarika have been investigated. The names of the Megareis that have descended to us are Praxion, Dieuchidas, Hereas, and Heragoras. [6] They have been treated as pairs, with Praxion and Dieuchidas as father and son, and Heragoras (cited only in a scholion to Apollonius of Rhodes [1.211–215]) equated with Hereas (or as another father-son pair). [7] That Praxion wrote a Megarika has been doubted on the grounds that an original citation of Dieuchidas, son of Praxion, could have been distorted to create an attribution of a history to Praxion in the source of the Suda and of Harpocration. [8] A first impression, therefore, received from the fragments of the Megareis is that this was hardly a vigorous school of local history, with many representatives. [9] Praxion can lay claim to a single fragment (FGH 484). To Dieuchidas, Jacoby assigns one testimonium and eleven fragments (FGH 485). Piccirilli credits him with twelve fragments (P 2). Hereas gets four fragments in Jacoby (FGH 486) and three in Piccirilli (P 3). Piccirilli would give a single fragment to Heragoras, whom he sees as discrete from Hereas (P 4). To anonymous Megareis, Jacoby attributes thirteen fragments (FGH 487). Piccirilli has twenty-four fragments in his corresponding category (P 5). He has also collected another group, adespota of Megarian provenience, in which he places fifteen fragments (P 6). {115|116}
§6. Of the eighteen separate citations comprising the fragments of named Megarian historians, four are from Plutarch, three each from the scholia to Apollonius and from Harpocration, and two from the Stromateis of Clement. Six other proveniences contribute one citation each. Of the fragments from the Megareis (P 5) and of possible Megarian provenience (P 6), thirty-nine in all, twenty-nine are from Pausanias (P 5: 22; P 6: 7), though some are also known through other intermediaries. Plutarch is the intermediary for five (P 5: 3; P 6: 2). It is noteworthy that, outside of the Greek Questions, Plutarch cites his sources by name or by the general title Megareis. On the only occasion that he does not do so (Solon 10.2 = P 6, F 12b), and which has the look of being from a local Megarian historian, he cites Hereas by name a few lines below (Solon 10.5 = Hereas FGH 486 F 4 = P 3, F 3). Thus, there appear to be two patterns in which Plutarch included material about Megara in his works. Generally, he made use of Megarian historians (and Atthidographers) on Megara, using variously specific or generic attributions. In the Greek Questions, he used the Constitution of the Megarians, along with other Peripatetic Constitutions.
§7. Let us turn now to the content of the fragments themselves. The one fragment of Praxion is what we might call mythological. Of the fragments of Dieuchidas, six treat mythology (one aetiological), one cult, two the chronology of Lycurgus, two topography, and one the Salamis dispute. Plutarch quotes Dieuchidas on Lycurgus for chronology (FGH 485 F 4, F 5). It is uncertain how a Spartan legislator was incorporated into a Megarian local history. An assumption, reasonable given the mythological character of so much of the work of Dieuchidas, is that he used Lycurgus to establish a date for the arrival of the Dorians in the Peloponnesus. Dieuchidas dated Lycurgus in relation to the fall of Troy and to the Spartan king-list. Hereas’ fragments concern mythology (2) and the Salamis dispute (1). The single fragment of Heragoras has to do with mythology. It is noteworthy that Dieuchidas (FGH 485 F 6) and Hereas (FGH 487 F 4) comment only on the strength of Athenian justifications for ownership of Salamis, not on the actual struggle for the island. [10]
§8. The fragments from Piccirilli’s classes P 5 and P 6, mainly from Pausanias, treat mythology, cult, and topography in their {116|117} interconnections. Some, however, treat history and must now be discussed in detail. F 20 (P 5) concerns early Megarian history and deals with the Olympic victor and general Orsippos. However, Pausanias (1.44.1) marks his source merely with phāsi ‘they say’. He seems to base himself on an inscription dedicated to Orsippos, a copy of which has survived (IG VII 52). His notice is so abbreviated that it is unlikely that he had any source save the inscription and contemporary informants (see the Chronological Table, Note D). Fragment 21 (P 5, Pausanias 1.40.5) calls attention to the spoils taken by the Megarians from the Athenians in a fight over Salamis and goes on to assert that a group of traitors, the Dorykleians, were responsible for the subsequent Athenian recapture of the island. The Athenians credited Solon with this capture. Yet, it might be noted that, before he cited the Megareis, Pausanias marked his source with the term phāsi for the information that a bronze ship’s ram dedicated at Megara was taken at Salamis from the Athenians. This may suggest that the term Megareis, which follows to introduce the anecdote about the Dorykleians, is to be taken nontechnically to mean merely Megarians (contemporaries of Pausanias) rather than Megarian historians. F 22 (Pausanias 1.40.2) describes the thwarting of the Persian raid on the Megarid in 479. But once more Pausanias marks his source merely with phāsi. F 23 (Plutarch Pericles 30.2–4) recounts the Megarian version of the responsibility for the issuance of the Megarian Decree and, thereby, for the Peloponnesian War. The interpretation of this fragment is very vexed. It is quite possible that the Megareis mentioned by Plutarch here are once more not Megarian historians but (uncharacteristically) Megarian contemporaries who were his informants. [11] In any {117|118} event, one would not be justified in reconstructing the Megarika as continuous sequential political histories on the basis of this single fragment. If the Megareis dealt with Pericles’ guilt for the Peloponnesian War, it is still not necessary to see a historical narrative here. The subject of Pericles can have been treated in the context of the mythico-religious justifications for Megarian ownership of Eleusinian borderlands.
§9. To Piccirilli, F 24 (P 6) concerns a claim from the Megarika that the Megarians invented comedy. [12] If the scanty evidence for the dates of the Megareis is any basis, only Praxion can with certainty have been available for use by Aristotle in the Poetics, as he would be dated to the second quarter of the fourth century. Dieuchidas, who was active in the second half of the fourth century, might have been Aristotle’s source, if the Poetics are to be dated after 350. [13] {118|119} However, Aristotle does not attribute his remarks to any source (Poetics 1448a29–b2). The derivation of kōmōidiā from kōmē and the observation that the Athenians had demes rather than kōmai like the Megarians could have been made at any time by almost anyone—a sophist interested in the derivation of words, for instance. [14] For inclusion of this fragment in the Megarika, Piccirilli argues that the Megarians must have contested with the Athenians the honor of originating comedy. Megarian comedy is closely associated with Megarian democracy by Aristotle. To assert that the Megareis insisted on the priority of Megarian comedy is to posit that the Megareis had a positive appraisal of Megarian democracy. The surviving evidence, however, does not support such an assumption.
§10. The surviving fragments of the Megarika are overwhelmingly prehistoric or mythological in character. This is hardly surprising when their proveniences are considered, that is, so much from scholia and Pausanias. Yet, Pausanias, when he chose, could cite from local historians, as he did in his treatment of Messenian history, which depends on Myron of Priene and Rhianos of Bene (FGH 106 T 1; cf. FGH 106 F 3; FGH 265 F 42–45). The unattributed citations from the Megareis scarcely allow for a strong case to be made about the historical content of the Megarika. F 20 and F 22 are attributed only by the word phāsi. For F 21 and F 23, the term Megareis is designated in the citations, but in each case, there is some doubt about whether it need mean anything other than Megarians.
§11. The anti-Athenian thrust of the Megarika on the Salamis dispute is consonant with the spirit of some notices on mythological and religious subjects. The Megarika were clearly received as a polemic against Megara’s historical enemies. Philochorus may have taken pains to answer charges that the Athenians had interpolated their own versions into the text of Homer (Philochorus FGH 328 F 212; cf. F 11, 107, 111). A context for this intense Megarian effort to defend the honor of their community can be sought in the mid-fourth century revival of controversy with Athens over the Megarid’s border with Eleusis (Demosthenes 13.32–33; Androtion FGH 324 F 30; Philochorus FGH 328 F 155; cf.Pausanias 1.36.3).
§12. A preliminary assessment of the historical content of the Megarika is in order. The Megareis were primarily concerned with {119|120} antiquities of their city, that is, Megara’s earliest history and the creation of its institutions. A patriotic and antiquarian interest entailed a defense of Megara’s claims to the independence of its political and religious traditions and of what the Megarians considered their rightful borders; that is, that the claim to Salamis and the Hiera Orgas was grounded in the formative period of their communal existence. In such an account, the purported misrepresentations of Solon and Peisistratos found their refutation. But this refutation was placed in the context of Megarian prehistory, not of Megarian history. Moreover, perhaps appropriately for those who had the worst of the struggle so consistently, the Megarians and their local historians did not dispute the sequence of events in the hostilities with Athens or their outcome. Rather, they turned to the distant past to redress contemporary grievances. Plutarch does not cite them for any political or military details about the Salamis conflict. Even if the unattributed historical fragments of Piccirilli’s P 5 classification are truly from the Megarika, it is still unnecessary to hold that the Megarika contained a historical narrative of the sixth and fifth centuries. The Megarika seem to have followed a nonsequential mode of presentation. The Dorykleians, the Megarian traitors who betrayed Salamis to Athens, could have been introduced to answer an Athenian claim to Salamis on the grounds that the hero Eurysakes had given the island to them. Mardonios’ dispatch of troops into the Megarid in 479 could have had a rationale for its inclusion in an explanation of the cult of Artemis Soteira (cf. IG VII 16[?], 112), initially justified by its aition set in prehistory. No one quotes anything specifically from the Megareis that could remotely be called constitutional or political history.

Plutarch and the Megareis

§13. The aforesaid interpretation sets the content of the Megarika at a sharp variance with the valuable information in Plutarch’s Greek Questions, of which the origin has been sought in Aristotle’s Constitution of the Megarians, and with the interesting material on Theagenes and on the fall of the Megarian democracy preserved in the Politics and the Rhetoric. Yet this conclusion appears on the surface perverse, vulnerable to the question of where else Megarian constitutional antiquities could have been preserved except in a Megarian local historical tradition. One might object that it is far more likely that the character of the surviving citations from the Megarika has been skewed by accidents of transmission. In this case, the mythological, religious, and lexicographical interests of the late ancient authors who quote from the Megarika go far to explain the absence of historical material. {120|121}
§14. Plutarch, however, must be treated differently. He thought Megarian history to be of sufficient interest to include four Megarian “Questions” in the Greek Questions, but elsewhere made little use of the Megarika, except in terms of mythico-religious claims vis-à-vis Athens. These circumstances could be explained by assuming that Plutarch used the Constitution of the Megarians as his source in the Greek Questions, and some other intermediary drawing from the Megareis in his other works. The disparity in emphasis between the Constitution of the Megarians and the Megarika is to be attributed to differences in interests and in historical acumen between the Peripatetic author of the Constitution and our hypothetical intermediary. As a source for the information of Plutarch (and Diogenes Laertius) on the dispute between Athens and Megara over Salamis, Hermippos has been suggested. [15] Hermippos is cited by Plutarch as a source in the Life of Solon (frr. 7, 8, 10 [Wehrli]) and in the Life of Lycurgus (fr. 85 = Lycurgus 23.2; fr. 86 = Lycurgus 5), and is generally held as a major source for the Solon. However, before considering Hermippos as a source on Megara, I must first explore the relationship of the Theognidea to Megarian local tradition as represented by the Megarika.

The Megarika and Theognis

§15. The observation to be made first about the Theognidea and the Megarian local historical traditions is that the two come together on very few points. [16] There is no reference to Theognis in the surviving bits of Megarian local historical tradition. This is a sharp divergence from the relationship attested elsewhere between cities and their poetic traditions. Solon became the embodiment of the evolution of Athenian political institutions. The expression “Laws of Solon” became equivalent to the entire sacred and civil legal code of Athens. But it might be objected that in Solon the roles of nomothetēs ‘lawgiver’ and poetic inculcator of values were fused. In response, the {121|122} position of Tyrtaeus at Sparta may be cited. In this case, it is chiefly through the agency of poetry that the influence of Tyrtaeus was felt. The political career of Tyrtaeus is merely extrapolated from his activity as encoder of values through poetry (Suda s.v. “Turtaios”; Pausanias 4.15.6,16.2,18.3; scholia Plato Laws 629A; Strabo 8.4.10 C362). Perhaps the ideology of Theognis stood somehow at variance with that which prevailed in the Megara of the fourth century and later, that of the Megareis. Nonetheless, even a poet such as Archilochus, whose poetry might have seemed to Hellenistic Parians to adopt an adversary position relative to social conventions of his time and of his polis, [17] could be clasped to the bosom of local historians bent upon magnifying the reputation of their mother city. [18] Some explanation for the mutual alienation of Theognis and Megarian historical tradition should be sought.
§16. Let us consider two exceptions. Theognis mentions Alkathoos, the eponym of one of the Megarian citadels (v. 774). The story of this early king is told in Dieuchidas (FGH 485 F 10), and his building of Megara’s walls is mentioned in an unattributed citation from the Megarika (FGH 487 F 5). Another unattributed segment of the Megarika (P 5 F 22) describes the discomfiture of a Persian raiding party in the Megarid in 479. The same episode may have inspired Theognis 773–782. [19] It is significant that the only two points of partial contact between the corpus and the Megarika should lie in the same passage and in one that is obviously one of the latest datable passages in the work. To the lack of comment by the Megareis on the Theognidea is juxtaposed the general absence in Theognis of direct historical allusions. One exception is the mention of an otherwise unknown {122|123} sack of Kerinthos and fighting on the Lelantine plain (vv. 891–894; see the Chronological Table, Note L). Also, verses 757–768 make reference to an invasion by the Medes, probably the invasion of Xerxes in 480. Obviously, Megarian local historians’ lack of interest in Theognis is parallel to a lack of detail on Megara in the Theognidea. Though arguments from silence are notorious, one may note the absence of various types of references in the Theognidea. First, references to subdivisions of the citizen body are missing: no tribes, no kōmai, no hekatostues—all of which are known to have existed at Megara. [20] Second, there are no magistrates or offices mentioned, although one might well imagine hortatory or paraenetic literature that might give political advice in specific terms. Third, there are no toponyms of the Megarid present, except for the qualifier Megareus (v. 23) in the sphrēgis ‘seal’ passage, with which reference this gesture of identification and appropriation could not dispense. The thirty geographical and ethnic terms, where identifiable, refer to places outside the Megarid. Fourth, the political language is very general (e.g., astos, dēmos, lāos, hēgemones). Obviously, a conventionalizing process has taken place in Theognidean poetry to remove topical grounding in archaic Megara.
§17. Yet, our conclusion might once again be countered with the objection that the lack of connections between the Megareis and the Theognidea is a result of the preoccupations of intermediaries for the Megarika. But the fact remains that the biographical tradition concerning Theognis is extremely meager. In line with this fact, it is not surprising that there was even controversy in antiquity over which Megara was to receive the honor of being acknowledged as the poet’s homeland. Megara Hyblaea was identified as Theognis’ mother city by Plato (Laws 630A) and by the Suda (s.v. “Theognis”). Other authorities held that mainland Megara (Nisaean Megara) was the Megara of Theognis (Stephanus Byzantius s.v. “Megara”; Harpocration s.v. “Theognis”; Didymus at scholia Plato Laws 630A). Harpocration and the scholiast attest to the ancient debate between the two views and attempt to reconcile the differences by making Theognis a naturalized citizen of Megara Hyblaea. Internal arguments are of little help; [21] otherwise, the question should have been settled long ago. {123|124} Clearly, Theognis verses 773–774 refer to the citadel of homeland Megara. Verses 783–788 speak of the poet’s journey to Sicily along with other visits. This seems to indicate the perspective of a non-Sicilian. The verses that refer to the devastation of the Lelantine plain make best sense in the mouth of an inhabitant of Megara in mainland Greece. Thus, while one may conclude that an insufficient body of biographical evidence ever existed to make conclusions on this subject, internal evidence is slightly in support of an origin in “homeland” Megara.
§18. It is most improbable, then, that ancient biographers had included lives of Theognis in their collections. This conclusion is especially significant as we consider once again that prolific author of short biographies, Hermippos, a follower of Callimachus, as well as a researcher in the Peripatetic tradition. [22] Fragments of his are known from biographies of poets (e.g., fr. 93 [Wehrli] on Hipponax) and from a series of biographies of the “Seven Sages” (frr. 5–16). It is here that Theognis, the poet of gnōmai ‘maxims’, would be expected. If Hermippos was the intermediary who passed on his knowledge of the Megarian local historians to Plutarch, and Hermippos wrote no life of Theognis, then it is unlikely that there was much in the Megarika about the life of Theognis, and it is this deficiency in the local historical tradition that may well explain the weak biographical tradition regarding Theognis. [23]

Plato and the Theognidea

§19. The fact that Plato believed Theognis to have been a Sicilian cannot be overestimated in its importance, since Plato was well aware of the poetic traditions of Sicily through his stays at the court of the Syracusan tyrants. That he assigns Theognis to Megara Hyblaea without a hint that he is making a controversial statement suggests that he encountered Theognidean poetry in circulation there and found it {124|125} treated as though it were local. One does not have to search far for a demonstration of the existence of this poetry, since the Theognidea at one time contained a poem with a definite Sicilian context. The Suda reports its existence (s.v. “Theognis”):

“ἔγραψεν ἐλεγείαν εἰς τοὺς σωθέντας τῶν Συρακουσίων ἐν τῇ πολιορκίᾳ.”
“He [Theognis] wrote an elegy in honor of those Syracusans who survived the siege.”

The credence placed in this notice, however, has been undermined by difficulties in establishing a historical context for this “elegy.” A siege has been read into the Herodotean description of Hippokrates of Gela’s unsuccessful war against Syracuse (Herodotus 7.154.2), but this solution has little to recommend it, as nothing suggests that a siege actually took place. Some have suggested an occasion for the poem in the abortive Athenian siege of Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War. In this line of reasoning the poem that treated it would be a late addition to the corpus, one that was later lost. [24] Unfortunately, this hypothesis entails that the elegy’s author be Theognis, a late fifth-century writer of tragedies so frigid that he had the byname “Snow” (Suda s.v. “Theognis”; cf. Aristophanes Acharnians 11–140; Thesmophoriazusae 170). That a poem of the tragedian is behind this notice involves a series of assumptions too complex to be justified. In any case, the source of the Suda cannot have had an inhabitant of Megara Hyblaea writing a poem in honor of Syracuse, the archenemy and eventual destroyer of his polis, without an explanation, of which there is no trace in the notice. An attempt to make historical sense of this notice must assume that the Suda distorted or carelessly summarized its source for the episode. The phrase tous sōthentas ‘those having been preserved’ ought to refer to Megarians. One might suggest that during the sixth century the Megarians in Sicily withstood an otherwise unknown siege at the hands of Syracuse. Harrison, however, suggests a reference to the successful siege of Megara Hyblaea by Gelon c. 483 (Herodotus 7.156.2). [25] To him, eis in the Suda entry above means merely ‘about’, not ‘in honor of’, and hupo must be inserted before tōn Surakousiōn. According to this theory, the poem was about the wealthy citizens of Megara Hyblaea transferred to Syracuse by Gelon and the Syracusans, and thereby safe from enslavement. The addition of hupo may not be necessary. The {125|126} word Surakousiōn ‘of the Syracusans’ could be a subjective genitive with poliorkiāi, or a genitive of separation with sōthentas ‘saved from the Syracusans’. Both genitival constructions are slightly strained from the standpoint of word order, but perhaps allowable in the title of a poem. Moreover, there is no reason to think that this poem differed essentially from the gnomic, paraenetic material of the rest of the corpus. Hence, the poem ought not to be “about” the survivors, but eis should mean ‘for’ or ‘against’ in the same way that the surviving Theognidea are ‘for’ and in other contexts ‘against’ Kyrnos and the agathoi who have defected to the kakoi. Whether the poem addressed the survivors of an unknown siege of the sixth century or those preserved by Gelon in c. 483, one would expect the emphasis of the elegy to have been on stasis ‘conflict between social groups’, so common in Sicily, and on its causes and tragic results. The war with Gelon, one may note, was started by the elite of Megara Hyblaea without the collaboration of the dēmos. Consequently, it is unreasonable to expect that the poem under discussion would have provided a narrative of the siege. Rather, it was probably of the same character as Theognidean injunctions in the surviving corpus which take as their setting the eve of the Persian invasion (vv. 757–764, 773–788). A Sicilian “elegy,” for the most part admonitory and normalizing, could have pervaded the whole corpus of the Theognidea. [26] I would suggest that the ancient edition of Theognis contained material of a Sicilian extraction in addition to the parts of the surviving corpus that bear associations with mainland Megara. On the basis of the Sicilian poem(s), Plato and perhaps others made the determination that Theognis was a Sicilian (Plato Laws 630A). [27]

§20. Concomitantly, Plato may also have seen Theognis as Sicilian because he encountered no particular interest in Theognis among contemporary intellectuals native to mainland Megara. He knew these well through his association with Eukleides, the founder of the Megarian school of philosophy (Megarikoi: see, e.g., Diogenes Laertius {126|127} 1.18–19 [fr. 35 Döring]). Plato traveled to Megara in the company of Eukleides after the death of Socrates (Diogenes Laertius 3.6 [fr. 4A Döring]; cf. frr. 4E, 5–6, 26A Dörring). Our sources are emphatic about the Socratic character of the Megarian school (frr. 1–3, 10A–B, 18, 20, 26A, 34–38, 43A–B Döring). This situation seems to indicate the extinction of local ideological traditions (see below, §§63–64) and of the poetic traditions that embodied them. Plato appears more interested in Theognis, whom he viewed as a Sicilian, than were contemporary Megarians from Nisaean Megara. An exception merely certifies that the Megarikoi assimilated little of the Theognidean ideology. The Megarian philosopher Diodoros of Iasos (c. 300) had among his five philosophical daughters one Theognis, named, it seems, after that archaic exponent of pederasty (Clement Stromateis [fr. 101 Döring]). One may conclude that Theognidean poetry does not appear to be a topic of interest either to Megareis, Megarian local historians, or to Megarikoi, Megarian philosophers who followed Socrates. There is no reason to think that their fellow citizens differed from them. I shall argue that the reason for this situation was ideological. Conversely, local traditions claiming Theognis existed in Sicily in the fourth century, but these were literary traditions current at the Syracusan court, since Megara Hyblaea had been destroyed long before.

A Pan-Megarian Theognis

§21. As has been seen, the corpus of the Theognidea lacks a strong historical grounding in either Megara. Our discussion of the Sicilian elegy suggests the possibility that the aristocratic social code the corpus was meant to encapsulate had to do duty for Megara, Megara Hyblaea, and other Megarian colonies as well (see the Chronological Table, Note C). The existence of the same ideological polarities in the Megarian colonies explains how Heraclea, founded when the metropolis was democratic, could overthrow the democracy and establish an oligarchy in a way similar to the succession of events that took place in the mother city, and at approximately the same time. The accretions to the corpus may have had a topical grounding in the form in which they circulated in the city of their composition, but this context was filtered out in their adaptation or assimilation to the Theognidea. This does not mean that the material of the Theognidea is useless in illuminating archaic Megara. The final fixation of the Theognidean text may have suspended the filtering out of particular passages with topical valences. The corpus evolved in content from the specific to the general. This may have happened in combination with a process of abbreviation. The longer sections, especially those {127|128} addressed to named individuals (except those that name Kyrnos), may be more topical, more locally grounded (see, e.g., below, §59). The names will have had original valences because the poet’s audience identified those named with actual persons or recognized in their names conventional figures decipherable by the ideological reading inherent in their names. Moreover, in institutional or ideological terms, much that can be extracted from the corpus may hold good for colonial Megarians as well as for Megara. Nevertheless, some care must be exercised, as all political allusions in Theognis are likely to be at several removes by the stage of their final crystallization.

Genre and Ideology among the Megarians

Generalization and Specificity

§22. If the corpus of the Theognidea was a common possession of all the Megarians and its ideology was similarly common, how did poetry and ideology inform partisan politics in cities with external political circumstances that were superficially so different? Moreover, on which social institutions did Megarian oligarchic or democratic ideology make its influence felt, and on what level of generalization? I shall be looking especially for a level of abstraction appropriate for all Megarians, although I cannot, of course, entirely rule out the possibility that on this same plane the corpus had a pan-Hellenic significance. The political order adopted by Megara after its sunoikismos and independence from Corinth must have been more attractive than was the Bacchiad polity of Corinth to those Megarians whose territory was thereafter occupied by Corinth (see the Chronological Table, Notes A, B, C). The Megarians did not “in-gather” for the sake of more of the same. Yet, in the Theognidea, one passage features a stark contrast between the agathoi who had once led the community and the animalistic inhabitants of the countryside who had later become agathoi, or members of the elite (vv. 53–57: see below, §41). Parallel to this comparison of urban agathoi and rural kakoi is the repeated use of the terms astoi for members of the community and astu for polis or town (vv. 24, 41, 61, 191, 283, 367, 739, 868, 937, 1082a, 1184a). [28] So too we find in the corpus an emphasis on the maintenance of genetic purity by the elite and an abhorrence of intermarriage between social groups (vv. 183–192). Had these sentiments been articulated in eighth- or early seventh-century Corinth by {128|129} a member of the Bacchiad clan, they would seem natural. There, access to the refuge on the acropolis of Acrocorinth may have been limited. [29] The Bacchiads were a closed oligarchy who practiced endogamy, at least in principle. However, these institutions were unlikely to have survived the separation of Megara from Corinth. Plutarch’s treatment of the institution of the doruxenoi already suggests reciprocity between the kōmai before sunoikismos (see the Chronological Table, Note B). It is hard to visualize the motivation of the rest of the kōmai in breaking away from Corinth only to accept a similar narrow oligarchy directed from the town of Megara. Rather, we may posit that Corinthian political institutions were used to express stances taken by the poetry of the Theognidea. In any specific political confrontation, the ideology favoring changes in Megarian society in the direction of closure expressed itself naturally on the model of the extreme closure of Bacchiad Corinth. It is even conceivable to expect that such formulations could evolve in isolation from social reality. The contrast between countryside and town would have been expressive for colonial Megarians as well, inasmuch as the hinterland of their poleis would have been inhabited by non-Greeks in the first place. For example, the native population in the hinterland of the Megarian colony of Heraclea Pontica, the Mariandynoi, were reduced to serfdom by the colonists (Posidonius FGH 87 F 8, Euphorion fr. 78 [Powell] at Athenaeus 263D; Hesychius s.v. “dōrophorous”; Plato Laws 776C–D; Strabo 12.3.4 C542; Pollux 3.83). The emotive force of the confrontations between town and country and between endogamy and exogamy, not their verisimilitude, justifies their appearance in the Theognidea.
§23. The results for the Theognidea of this generalization, which I have just posited, stand out in higher relief if we consider the relationship between the Theognidea and the Constitution of the Megarians as represented by Plutarch’s Greek Questions. Aristotle is more specific than Theognis, and there is no possibility that the Constitution can have derived from the corpus, even from its lost portions, unless these were radically different from what has been preserved. It has already been indicated that the Constitution differed in focus from the Megarika, and this has left us in the paradoxical position of accounting for a tradition on Megara that was not represented in local {129|130} historiography but was apparently well-informed. If competing ideologies could have acted to appropriate or exclude different sets of data on archaic Megara, then we are left with the task of considering the principles of selection that may have operated on the material in Megarian elegiac poetry.
§24. The similarities between Aristotle/Plutarch in Question 18 of the Greek Questions (supplemented by Politics 1304b34–39) on the one hand and Theognis on the other are the following (cf. above, §4):

Aristotle Theognis
loss of sōphrosunē emphasis on maintaining phrenes (vv. 373–392, 429–438, 452–456, 753–756, 1007–1012, 1049–1054, 1171–1176; cf. 39–52, 1135–1150)
demagogues make citizens drunk with democracy drunkards as lacking in sōphrosunē (475–496, 497–498, 503–510; cf. 413–414, 837–840, 873–876)
wanton behavior toward plousioi kakoi prone to wanton behavior (39–52, 151–152, 153–154, 306–308, 373–392, 731–735)
dēmos invades homes of rich to feast subhumans invade city to become agathoi (53–68)
dēmos uses biē and hubris khrēmata taken by biē (341–350, 667–682; cf. 289–292)
Palintokia khrēmata taken by biē (341–350, 667–682; cf. 289–292)
confiscations (Politics) anger toward current holders of his khrēmata (341–350; cf. 561–562)
exile of aristocrats (Politics) plight of an exile (209–210, 332a–334, 1209–1216)

In Question 59, the drunken ‘wagon-rollers’ make their sacrilegious attack on the pilgrims bound for Delphi. This could never have been derived from the Theognidea in the way in which the Constitution of the Athenians uses the poems of Solon to reconstruct his reforms. Nevertheless, all these similarities suggest that both the Theognidea and the Constitution go back to an appraisal of democracy or, perhaps {130|131} more correctly, of democratizing—an appraisal based on similar, oligarchic ideological grounds. Besides the appropriation of proper mental activity and truly human behavior by the critics of the dēmos, one may remark on the stereotyping of an inferior group as drunkards. The Spartiates used to get the Helots drunk in front of Spartan youths (Plutarch Lycurgus 28.8–10: see below, §42). The practice of making invidious comparisons of the traditions of different ethnic groups about the consumption of alcohol may also be noted (compare the stereotypes of French Canadians in Canadian “mythology”).

§25. The tone of the Constitution is hostile to the democracy, which is seen negatively in terms of morality, not merely in terms of expediency or of political efficiency. The Constitution emphasizes the social dimensions of Megarian democracy rather than its institutional order. In other words, the Constitution of the Megarians seems to motivate a single definite political event, the Palintokia, around which its treatment of Megarian democracy turns, by observations similar to the opinions enunciated in the Theognidea.
§26. Megarian democracy is seen most of all as a manifestation of moral degeneracy. The terminology is arresting. The popular leaders provide wine for the dēmos: ‘dēmagōgōn oinokhoountōn’. Plutarch refers to the metaphorical treatment of the breakdown of a democracy in the Republic (562C–D) of Plato, where the polis is thirsting for freedom (eleutheriās dipsēsāsa), with the magistrates acting as oinokhooi ‘wine-pourers’ until the polis is drunk (methusthēi) with akrāton ‘undiluted wine’. Yet it is improbable that anyone reading the Republic would have thought of Megara rather than of Athens. The question that is important to us is why Plutarch called to mind this particular topos on democratic extremism when he chose to paraphrase the Constitution. In answer, let me raise the possibility that the Constitution offered this equation: drunkenness = extreme democracy. In other words, the treatment of Megarian rowdiness (when the dēmos invaded the homes of the rich) already made something of drunkenness, which suggested to Plutarch that he dramatize the progress of democratization as one of intoxication.
§27. The same note is struck by the statement that the dēmos, completely corrupted (diaphtharentes pantapāsi), invaded the homes of the rich to feast. Complete degeneracy could have been more effectively demonstrated by some other example. Why did the members of the dēmos eat and drink in the homes of the rich first, instead of simply confiscating their property? In other words, compulsory {131|132} entertainment and the Palintokia do not seem to belong to successive stages of a political crisis, as seen from a legalistic perspective. Surely, had the Megarians wished to eat and drink their fill, they might have come up with some confiscatory mechanism that would regularize redistributions. A prudent system would keep the conflicts that ensue in such a redistributory mechanism in a public context (i.e., taxation), and not personalized as Plutarch suggests. Below, it will be argued that this series of events did have an institutional basis in some type of redistribution, perhaps made figurative (see below, §41, §§50–52). Here let me merely raise the possibility that Aristotle’s source meant to keep his focus on the moral, psychological, and social aspects of Megarian democracy rather than on the organization of its constitution or legal system. Thus, the Constitution of the Megarians shows how oligarchic ideology at Megara, as represented by the preoccupations of Theognis, could help to shape polemical writing about a specific situation. Nonetheless, the two levels of political commentary do not interface smoothly.

Megarian Comedy: A Counterideology

§28. Generically-based oligarchic ideology at Megara as embodied in the Theognidea can be further elucidated if one considers the presence of another ideology and its generic vehicle. Aristotle associated the origin of Megarian comedy with Megarian democracy (Poetics 1448a29–b3). The Marmor Parium (FGH 239 A 39) gives as a date for the Athenian invention of comedy that of 580–562/1. [30] If the Megarians were thought to have invented comedy, then a tradition that comedy was performed in Megara about this time may have existed. The date for Megarian democracy coincides with the putative date for Megarian comedy. The existence of such a tradition explains how the invention of comedy could be assigned to Susarion, who is variously described as an Athenian or a Megarian. [31] According to {132|133} these traditions, Susarion wrote invectives with characters introduced disjointedly and is best known for an epigram deriding women. The idea that the Megarians invented comedy is reflected by a commentator on Aristotle, who is also aware of the stories concerning Susarion (Anonymous Commentator [Aspasius?] on Nicomachean Ethics 1123a20). Megarian comedy was known to the Attic poets of Old Comedy: Ekphantides (first victory probably 457/4) fr. 2 (Kock); Eupolis fr. 244 (Kock); Myrtilos fr. 1 (Kock); and Aristophanes Wasps 54–63; cf. CPG 1.230.
§29. From these citations, the character of Megarian comedy may be discerned. Aristophanes warns his audience against expecting either anything very great or anything stolen from Megara. The latter theme is illustrated by the practice of throwing nuts into the audience (cf. Plutus 797–799) or by the introduction of Herakles robbed of his dinner. [32] These motifs are somehow Megarian, just as Aristophanes’ further examples, parody of Euripides and satire about Cleon, are by contrast his own (unless perhaps crude abuse is somehow Megarian). Consider Maison, a stock comic character, either a servant or a cook, who was portrayed with a particular mask (Athenaeus 14.659A–C; cf. Pollux 4.148; Hesychius s.v. “maisōna”). Chrysippus derived the name Maison from masasthai ‘chew’ (at Athenaeus). Aristophanes of Byzantium, however, traced the character Maison back to a Megarian actor of that name (at Athenaeus). Perhaps we ought to take him for a generic figure associated both with cooking and with Megarian comedy. Megarian comic poets are described as amousōn kai aphuōs skōptontōn ‘uninspired, unsophisticated ridiculers’ (scholia Aristophanes Wasps 57b). Megarian comedy is psukhros ‘insipid’, and its performance is aselgēs ‘wanton’ and phortikos ‘vulgar’ {133|134} (Eupolis; Myrtilos; Anonymous Commentator). The strong association between food sharing or food stealing and Megarian comedy should be noted. Another association, that between Megarian comedy and crude invective, should also be observed.
§30. One way to explain the evolution of comedy is to posit that comedy had its social context in lower-class mockery of the elite. Aristotle in the Poetics associated the term kōmōidiā with kōmē ‘village’. [33] Thus, comedy can be seen as a rural/populist medium for ensuring social conformity (i.e., the restriction of choice in lifestyles for community members to a relatively limited set). The most common myth about comedy’s beginnings portrays the origin of the genre in the following way. [34] At Athens, a group of farmers suffered injustice at the hands of those inhabiting the astu ‘town’. In retaliation, the farmers, entering town at night, went around shouting out the names and the misdeeds of those mistreating them, who in their turn were held up to ridicule by their neighbors. Next, the citizens, recognizing a socially beneficial practice, compelled the rustics to reenact their ridicule of the unjust in the agorā ‘marketplace’. The agroikoi ‘peasants’, who feared the rich, smeared their faces with mud and wine lees, creating comic personae, as it were. In the final stage of development, poets were permitted to mock with impunity.
§31. The tense boundaries between different social classes and societal roles were blurred and mediated by such confrontations between groups and individuals in a forum where winning and losing occurred only on the psychological plane. Comedy not only inculcated the skills necessary for interpersonal conflict but also diverted aggression short of full-fledged stasis. It lessened the sensitivity of participants and audience to interclass friction. Another story about comedy’s origins points up this role as a reconciler and releaser of tensions. At Syracuse, after a period of stasis, reconciliation took place between the parties in the context of a ritual meal and a kōmos, or protocomedy (scholia Theocritus, Prolegomena Ba [Wendel]). The rustics approached the city dressed in stags’ horns, sang songs, and shared {134|135} food with the city-dwellers. The sharing of food is representative of the stripping away of the “excrescences” (for they are viewed as such from a perspective of comic deflation) of class.
§32. Accordingly, early comedy would have been opposed to claims to special prerogatives or to the assumption of differentiated behavioral patterns by a presumptive elite. Comedy at Megara may be juxtaposed with Theognidean elegy. The latter attempted to indoctrinate the young, represented by Kyrnos, with emotional and mental habits appropriate to a constitution where access to political power was limited by heredity and upbringing, and to create inhibitions against communing with those who had not internalized the Theognidean system. We have already seen, however, that the myths motivating early comedy declare that its purpose is to uphold dikē, just as the poet of the Theognidea affirms. It is significant that by their very names early comic performers claimed a similar moral authority to that claimed by the elegiac poet. Athenaeus informs us that these performers had a variety of names (14.621D–622D; cf. Suda s.v. “phallophoroi”). Some, like ithuphalloi or phallophoroi, show the origins of the genre in rural fertility practices and cults. Two other names, sophistai and deikēlistai, are of greater particular interest for us. First of all, were poets named sophistai because they claimed that they possessed sophiā ‘wisdom’, or merely for their technical skill? For Pindar, poets are sophistai in a context where more than technical skill is implied (I. 5.28). It is striking that Herodotus uses the term for the Seven Sages (1.29.1, 4.95.2) and for the seer Melampus and other exegetes who followed him (2.49.1). Pindar and Herodotus authorize a prephilosophical connotation for the word, probably in much the same spirit as the equation of comic performers with sophistai. Thus, just as Theognis (who could describe the creator of poetry as sophizomenos ‘exercising sophiā’) encoded ainigmata which could only be decoded by the sophoi, who were agathoi (and this was the content of an aristocratic lifestyle: cf. vv. 681–682), so too the comic performers made their claim as authoritative spokesmen in parallel language. [35]
§33. At Sparta comic performers were called dikēlistai (Sosibios FGH 595 F 7), which Athenaeus glosses as mīmētai ‘mimes’ and skeuopoioi ‘disguisers’ or ‘make-up men’. The term is perhaps more correctly deikēliktās (Plutarch Agesilaus 21.8). The term is derived from {135|136} deiknumi ‘show’ (Hesychius glosses dikēlon as ‘phasma’ ‘opsis’ ‘eidōlon’ Just as the word sophistēs suffered attenuation in its claims to intellectual or spiritual preeminence, by the fourth century deikilistai at Sparta were minor performers. Nonetheless, how they appeared to sophisticated fourth-century Greeks need not prejudice us against their early significance. The term deikēla is used to describe initiation into Egyptian mysteries in the phrase deikēla tōn patheōn ‘passion play’ or, more literally, ‘a representation of personal sufferings’ (Herodotus 2.171.1). It is suggestive of the epopteiā ‘revelation’ of the Eleusinian Mysteries, where objects numinous with procreative force were revealed to the initiates. The Herodotean use of the term suggests that deikēla ‘representations’ ought to be parallel to the sēmata (from sēmainō), the encoded material encapsulated by archaic aristocratic poets in their poetry. Note Theognis 808, where sēmainō is used in connection with the theōros, a persona of the poet, who must faithfully represent the inspired message of Apollo (cf. Simonides 511 fr. 1 [Page]). Rather like characters in a fairy tale, ancient comic performers dealt in anxieties and social skills basic to human interaction.
§34. As has been observed, Aristophanes associated Megarian comedy with sharing food with the audience and with the themes of Herakles’ procuring food or being deprived of it. At Syracuse the origin of comedy is set in a story about rustics bringing food to town-dwellers. The counterimage to sharing food with the audience is that of stealing food, which was a common motif in Laconian comedy (Sosibios FGH 595 F 7; Athenaeus 14.621D; Pollux 4.105). Connected with this is the portrayal of the fate of someone caught stealing food. The stealer of food was a stock figure in early comedy (Epicharmus fr. 239 [Kaibel CGF 1.1]; cf. Aristophanes Knights 417–420). At Sparta, youths in the process of assimilating adult male values were taught to steal food (Plutarch Lycurgus 17.5–6). Comedy at Sparta thus encapsulated the experience of stealing food, which was a part of the rites of passage or rituals of adolescence. [36] If sharing food in the terms of comedic ideology means reconciliation between groups, stealing exemplifies the situation before reconciliation or even denotes a refusal to be reconciled. Megarian comedy may well have made much of {136|137} redistribution of food, feasting, and stealing, with its parallel in the redistributory ideology of the extreme democracy. When we read in Plutarch that the Megarian poor invaded the homes of the rich to eat and drink, we should perhaps think of redistributory activity. Comedy rehearsed its audience for such redistribution, or subsequently celebrated the implementation of redistributory proposals.
§35. I have suggested that the proper frame of reference for Theognidean poetry is not only Megara but also its colonies. Megarian comedy seems also to be associated with Megara Hyblaea (Aristotle Poetics 1448a32–34). Epicharmus was associated by Aristotle with Megarian comedy in Sicily, although it is uncertain whether Aristotle believed the poet to have been from Megara Hyblaea. Epicharmus conducted his literary career at Syracuse (in the reigns of Gelon and Hieron). Traditions conflict on his place of birth, but one body of opinion held him to have been a Sicilian Megarian (Suda s.v. “Epikharmos”; Diogenes Laertius 8.78). [37] It is noteworthy that as Epicharmus was celebrated for his gnōmai (Diogenes Laertius 8.78; cf. Iamblichus Life of Pythagoras 241; Kaibel CGF 1.1, T 9), he was to an extent a comic genre counterpart to Theognis, master of gnomological poetry. [38] There was also a debate about from which Megara Maison came (Polemon fr. 46 [Preller]).

Megarian Comedy, Elegy, and the Constitution of the Megarians

§36. It is not surprising that the emphasis of the writer of the Constitution of the Megarians was on social behavior rather than on institutional change (to be contrasted with the Constitution of the Athenians). This emphasis is an outgrowth of the original character of the generalized and ideological source material available. The author of the Constitution was, however, able to sketch the complex of behavior of which Megarian comedy (a subject of greater general interest, in any case) was a part without having to treat Megarian political legalities. The lack of interest in these traditions in Nisaean Megara itself has already been posited, so that it seems reasonable to look for a source among colonial Megarians. The democratic traditions of homeland Megara, later forgotten, ought to have been remembered in its {137|138} democratic colony, Heraclea Pontica. [39] The subsequent shift of Heraclea to an oligarchic constitution might explain the antidemocratic tone of the Constitution. As a source, Heracleides Ponticus is an obvious candidate for the one who reintroduced archaic Megarian evidence to Aristotle and his contemporaries. [40] Aristotle might then have been able to comment on Theagenes and on the fall of the Megarian democracy in the Politics. This is no more than a supposition, but it is made more likely by the fact that Aristotle had much information to offer on Heraclea Pontica in the same work. Whether Aristotle derived his notice about Megarian comedy from Heracleides cannot be decided.
§37. While it is useful for discussing the transmission of Megarian traditions to focus our attention on Heraclea and Heracleides, Heracleides is unlikely to have been the author of the Constitution, which was probably the work of one of Aristotle’s students. A date cannot be established for the composition of the Constitution of the Megarians. Indeed, it is not certain that the completion of its composition must necessarily fall within Aristotle’s lifetime. A possibility as the actual author of the work is Chamaeleon, also from Heraclea Pontica. [41] As a Heraclean, he would have been aware of the same traditions as Heracleides, whose example he followed in coming to Athens. The interests of Chamaeleon, as shown by the surviving fragments of his work, equipped him to deal with Megarian traditions better than a legal specialist or an expert in cults. He wrote a treatise on Old Comedy, though in the late fourth or early third century he perhaps did not mean by the adjective arkhaia what we denote by “Old Comedy” (frr. 43–44). Rather, he may have dealt with the early development of the genre in general, not merely the evolution of {138|139} Attic comedy down to and including Aristophanes. [42] A work Peri Saturōn ‘On Satyr Dramas’ is also known (frr. 37a–c), and a work on Thespis (fr. 38). Another of Chamaeleon’s works was on the subject of intoxication (frr. 9–13), which fits with the emphasis in Plutarch on drinking and its pernicious results. The one piece of evidence bearing on the chronology of Chamaeleon does not clash with a late fourth- or early third-century date, nor does it exclude his having studied with Aristotle himself (Memnon FGH 434 F 7). A Heraclean could draw on Megarian political traditions, which were preserved in the Theognidea, but these Theognidean traditions had been subjected to generalizing and conventionalizing.

Megarian Ideologies and Their Literary Genres

§38. Thus, two ideologies existed in sixth-century Megara. For simplicity, let us call one democratic (or populist) and the other oligarchic, although these terms must not be given their Athenian valence. The social setting for the two ideologies varied as much as their content and generic medium. Elegy and oligarchic ideology appropriated the context of the symposium, while democratic ideology was expressed in a comic performance with its attendant religious activity. At Megara, a sense of community seems to have been dependent upon redistribution of goods through traditional means. One may think of a primitive form of patronage by the elite and a type of kōmos or revel in which the whole community was entertained. From this kōmos there bifurcated a democratic ideology expressed in the performance of comedy and an oligarchic ideology centered around the symposium. [43]
§39. How a democratic and an oligarchic ideology may have interacted at Megara can perhaps be seen in the story that Pausanias tells about the construction of the building in which the Megarian Council, the {139|140} Aisymnion, met (Pausanias 1.43.3). The structure was built over the graves of heroes. A Delphic response had advised the Megarians to take counsel with the majority. This majority was interpreted to be the dead, so that the Council House was erected upon graves. [44] This is supposed to have happened in the lifetime of Aisymnos, the eponymous founder of the office of aisumnātās. The councillors were expected to commune with the tutelary heroes of the polis. While hoi pleones is a euphemism for the dead (cf. Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae 1073; Palatine Anthology 7.731, 11.42), another, rather obvious, interpretation was available. To take counsel with the majority should mean to enlarge the council—either opening its membership to other social groups or increasing the number of its members. Such changes, altering the balance between an assembly and a council, are democratizing. One might imagine that a reform establishing that probouleumata ‘preliminary proposals of a council’ might be emended on the floor of the assembly could be called ‘taking counsel with the majority’ (cf. the Great Rhetra of Sparta [Plutarch Lycurgus 6.6–7]). This superficial meaning was discarded for a cryptic sense reminiscent of the insistence in the Theognidea on taking counsel only with the agathoi and of the emphasis on the agathoi as transmitters of sophiā from one generation to another. Only the sophoi can properly decode normative statements, so that it is not surprising that oligarchs at Megara would seek to explain the oracle in this way. To know, in fact, who the greater number were was the answer to a riddle, one supposedly expounded by Anacharsis (Diogenes Laertius 1.104; cf. Callimachus Epigrams 4 [Pfeiffer]). Another aspect of the oracle deserves note. Nagy has emphatically argued that Theognis sometimes presents himself as a hero capable of upholding dikē even from beyond the grave. [45] The tutelary councillors connected with the Aisymnion approximated this very sort of phulakes ‘guardians’.
§40. Let us consider another example of ideological comment. As I have already indicated, it is unlikely that the kōmai of Megara can have been profoundly different from the astu by the late seventh century. The Theognidean description of the newly made agathoi who had previously inhabited the countryside and had dressed in skins is exaggerated. The image, however, is justified not by the notion that these rural aspirants to political power had in truth recently led a bestial life. Rather, such denigrating language, ostensibly {140|141} directed against political opponents of Theognis, could have been a reaction to their expressions of affinity with a rural or populist ideology through participation in early Megarian comedy. The skins that they wore on their sides (vv. 53–57) correspond to the costumes appropriate to animal or satyr choruses. [46] The view of themselves which proponents of this rural or populist ideology held may have found an echo in Aristotle’s Poetics. Aristotle describes comic performers wandering around the kōmai because they were deprived of their rights in the city, ‘atīmazomenous’ (Poetics 1448a36–b1). But such an act of expulsion is not historical; rather, it is a generic expression of the antagonism of the comic genre toward the city and the political men of power who were established there. This hypothesis leads to the striking possibility that the oligarchic ideology at Megara expressed by elegiac poetry responded not only to social situations created by its “populist, democratic” opponents but also to the self-representations of the populist ideology as expressed by comedy.
§41. In a properly functioning community the antagonism between rich and poor, between town-dwellers and rustics, is allayed by the incorporation of the comic performance into the life of the polis. Hence, in Attica comedies were performed at the city Dionysia and Lenaea, and not merely at regional celebrations in the countryside. Moreover, the acceptance by all social classes of ridicule directed at social pretension helps to integrate the polis. This integration is symbolized by conventional motifs of comedy such as the feast and the wedding. But when the joke is always on one social stratum, and that group’s disadvantage leaves the context of the play, such deflation is a challenge to arms. Here, for the first time, we touch on what went wrong in Megarian social relations (both in Theognidean terms and in our own). Dramatic performance at Athens was subsidized through liturgies, a means of redistribution of wealth, since the well-to-do supported performances that all enjoyed. Performance of comedy at Megara seems to have gone a step further as a mechanism for redistribution. Aristotle remarks that it was customary for a khorēgos {141|142} ‘producer of a play’ to provide stage hangings expensively dyed in purple instead of the usual leather curtains (Nicomachean Ethics 1123a20–24). If the situation in Athens held true for Megara, the khorēgos was a wealthy man appointed by the state. The benefit to the audience of such trappings appears doubtful, but perhaps that consideration recommended the practice. In some cultures, the successful accumulate goods to be consumed in a feast. This potlatch punishes the successful for their aberrant behavior, success itself. The content of the Theognidea suggests that the elite would not have acquiesced in this sort of comic misappropriation of their khrēmata ‘property’. In turn, the comedy that was to inhibit social aggrandizement by such provisions may have itself strayed into class aggrandizement.
§42. In societies near subsistence, it is not surprising that differences in dress (at least 15 percent of consumption) are highly symbolic of class differences. To dress “up” or “down” is a political statement. Yet, all societies experience upward and downward mobility, so that affiliation to social class by means of wealth, partially expressed by dress, creates groups that cross-cut or overlap those created by other criteria. One technique open to those anxious to freeze past social status is to legislate dress. The Spartan Helots, for instance, were compelled to wear dogskin hats and animal skins (Myron FGH 106 F 2). Such dress accompanied other forms of behavior opposite to the behavior of free men, like drinking to drunkenness and singing and dancing grotesquely (Plutarch Lycurgus 28.8–10). [47] By contrast, the Spartiate ate and drank moderately and sang the poems of Terpander, Alcman, and Spendon, of which the performance was forbidden to Helots. Furthermore, the rural dependent population of Sikyon, the korunēphoroi ‘club-bearers’, wore a rough garment called the katōnakē (Theopompus FGH 115 F 176, 311; cf. Pollux 7.68), as did slaves at Athens (Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae 723). Aristophanes could even have Lysistrata pretend that in freeing Athens, the Spartans had removed the katōnakē from Athenian backs (Lysistrata 1149–1156; cf. Pollux 7.68). The Helots were already in a sense performing when they sang and danced in a manner unnatural to them, much as they indulged in play-acting when they were compelled to mourn insincerely for Spartan kings (Tyrtaeus frr. 6–7 W; Herodotus 6.58.3; cf. Pausanias 4.14.5; consider the expression dakrua Megareōn: Chronological Table, Note A). Comedy directed such performance for its own ends. The dehumanization of {142|143} animalistic dress became a disguise, a liberation from the conventions of human society. The distance established between actor and audience became a vantage point from which to mount a social counterattack.

Redistribution and Sharing among the Megarians

§43. A final series of problems manifests itself in an evaluation of Megarian traditions about Megara. These concern why Megarian local history had so little interest in either of the two ideologies dominant in the sixth century in their polis. Yet, to answer this question, we shall have to undertake an investigation of the distribution of material goods in Megarian society as they were perceived by the Megarians and expressed in elegy and comedy. This dominant theme in Megarian social history can be seen working its influence even before the sunoikismos of the community. In Greek Questions 17 (Plutarch Moralia 295B–C), the institution of the doruxenoi is discussed (see the Chronological Table, Notes A, B). The Megarians resisted Corinthian attempts to create conflicts between the Megarian kōmai by a system of mutual hospitality where captors entertained their captives until ransomed. Thus, strong community identification is a mechanism for political survival and as such is reinforced by interrelations based on reciprocity in the circulation of material goods.
§44. The tradition regarding Theagenes, Megara’s only tyrant, whose career marks an important phase in the city’s internal history and foreign policies, also demonstrates the importance of the state of the distribution of material goods in Megarian social and political history. We know best his involvement in Athenian history through the Cylonian affair, about which Herodotus and Thucydides inform us (Herodotus 5.71.1–2; Thucydides 1.126.3–12). About his standing in the constitutional history of Megara, less is known. Aristotle noted him among other tyrants who achieved power by the acquisition of a bodyguard from the people (Rhetoric 1357b30–35). Here is an indication that some form of popular assembly was operative in mid-seventh-century Megara. Theagenes therefore followed an aristocracy, not a closed oligarchy. Yet one must avoid the temptation to assume that an aristocracy of the type presented as normal in the Theognidea broke down before the rise of Theagenes. The transition from a dikē-inspired hereditary aristocracy to a tyranny dominant over kakoi is paradigmatic, not historical. [48] {143|144}
§45. Theagenes achieved popularity by slaughtering the flocks of the rich which were trespassing by the river; so the account of Aristotle notes (Politics 1305a24–26). That the elite in Megarian tradition are the euporoi (if this term has not been introduced by the Peripatetics) suggests once again that they need not have been a hereditary aristocracy in power since the independence of the polis. The endogamous elite lying behind the Theognidea is a projection onto politics wherein those adopting the ideology are agathoi by birth, while those not embodying it are kakoi, either by birth or by degeneration.
§46. The identity of the river has baffled all students of Megarian history, inasmuch as there is no river in the Megarid. As a solution to this dilemma, it has been suggested that, in antiquity, when the hillsides were better wooded, streams ran toward the sea, at least in the wet season. This suggestion perhaps still overestimates the watershed available in the Megarid even before deforestation. Furthermore, Theagenes presumably slaughtered the flocks of the rich in something other than full civil war. After all, one does not win the support of one’s faction in a civil war merely by leading them in fighting. In that case, popularity has to be gained first. Aristotle has just mentioned demagogues who incited the poor against the rich to achieve popularity, so that the slaughter of the flocks pertained to Theagenes’ struggle to accede to power. Aristotle’s language suggests that Theagenes was justified in slaughtering the flocks of the rich because of their encroachment. A traditional interpretation (for example) has been to imagine that the wealthy of Megara, who could be major producers in the woolen industry, were encroaching on the bottomland held by the other members of the community. [49] However, this entails a rather modernistic picture of a seventh-century economy and scarcely explains why it was necessary to kill the flocks. I suggest that no simple confiscation of the property of political enemies is at issue here.
§47. It is possible that the potamos ‘river’ near which Theagenes slaughtered the flocks was not actually a river but a place called Potamos. It could have taken its name from religious activity celebrated there. Potamios was a month in the calendar of the Megarian colony Kalkhedon (GDI 3053). [50] Months often took their name from the major festivals celebrated in them, so that one might hypothesize {144|145} a festival, the Potamia, in Potamios. Although the festival might have been celebrated in honor of a local river at Kalkhedon, there is a good chance (given the conservatism in these matters) that there was either a month Potamios at Megara, or, barring that, a festival Potamia. The potamos (or should we say Potamos) would have been a cult place where this festival took place. The land near the Potamos may have been used to produce meat for sacrifice and communal eating, but the rich may have been arrogating its use to themselves. Theagenes may have slaughtered the flocks for a sacrifice and meal. He would thus have used the sheep for their proper purpose, thereby winning favor with the rest of the community. I would see the potamos as an old cult place that existed at the time of the foundation of the colony of Kalkhedon (see the Chronological Table, Note E). The conflict between rich and poor during the rise of Theagenes was perhaps over evaluations of changes in the relative prosperity of the two groups. Growing prosperity among the elite was interpreted as being at the expense of the poor, and upward mobility was thought to be a theft of khrēmata ‘property’.
§48. Another piece of evidence about Theagenes, recorded by Pausanias, can be introduced to support this hypothesis (1.41.2). At a place called rhoos ‘stream’, Theagenes diverted to the city waters flowing from the mountains and dedicated an altar there. [51] He was also credited with the erection of a fountainhouse for the use of the city of Megara (see the Chronological Table, Note F). The water available to the city of Megara was drawn from subterranean sources in the plain north of the city. The rhoos in its original state may have been a torrent bed with some water in it seasonally. In this primeval condition, the rhoos may have been equated with the potamos. Traces of the rhoos after its elaboration by Theagenes, when it drew on these subterranean waters, have been discovered, including remains of the conduit that fed the fountainhouse. [52] It is significant that most of the testimony on the career of Theagenes concerns water and its distribution among the citizens (the potamos, the rhoos, and the fountainhouse). In the Megarid, parched in the summer, access to water sources may have taken on the same importance that possession of land took in other cities. To draw water from communal sources was the preserve of the citizen. {145|146}
§49. To understand the institutional changes that Megara underwent in the sixth century, it is important to note that the Megarians fought the Athenians at least three times over Salamis (see the Chronological Table, Notes I, J, M, S). While successful initially, they seemed to have had the worst of it against Solon and Peisistratos. The latter’s capture of Nisaea must have been a disaster of the first order to the Megarians (Note M). Moreover, it is possible that three wars took place between Corinth and Megara. In the first, the Megarians lost Sidous and Krommyon, perhaps to Periander (Note G). In the later wars, they seemed to have held their own, at least to the degree that they had spoils to dedicate (Note N). Near 600, the Megarians unsuccessfully fought the Samians near Perinthos (Note K). Then, at some date (perhaps not much later), they became embroiled in Euboia and fought a battle with the Milesians (Notes L, O). The Peloponnesians may also have intervened against Megara (Note P). This record of conflict urges caution in assuming that the changes in government that took place in sixth-century Megara were determined by internal constitutional developments, or that governments succeeded each other on the basis of their success in dealing with social problems. For a small city-state surrounded by larger enemies, events abroad had an overwhelming impact. Stress generated by warfare against external enemies could have intensified stasis ‘conflict between social groups’ in sixth-century Megara. The sentiments evoked by a city beset by its enemies may be recorded in Theognis 825–830. Here the poet laments that the land, of which the boundary can be seen from the marketplace, has been lost. Again caution is advised, since there may also have been occasions in the history of Megara’s colonies that might have inspired such feelings. The poet’s admonition to a Scythian (probably a Scythian slave, addressed by his master, the speaker) to cut his hair in mourning would fit well in the context of the Propontis and Black Sea colonies of the Megarians, where Scythian slaves would have been common.
§50. It is left to explain why the two Megarian ideologies, one democratic and expressed through comedy, and the other oligarchic and expressed through elegy, lost their emotive and explanatory power for fourth-century Megarians. The change may have taken place in two stages: one sixth-century (when stasis between political groups was damaging to society), the other fifth-century (when Megara lapsed into a type of passive isolationism). First, consider the ideology of democratic Megara. In Plutarch’s account, the Palintokia represented a watershed (see the Chronological Table, Note Q). It is presented by him as a repayment in money of interest paid by debtors to their {146|147} creditors. Yet, in the mid-sixth century, silver coinage was in its infancy. [53] The first silver coins were probably Aiginetan. Dates for them range from 580 to 550; 560 plus or minus ten years is not likely to be far wrong. Sixth- and fifth-century Megara did not have its own coinage. In the sixth century, Megara lay within the area where the Aiginetan standard predominated. The only alternative to the use of Aiginetan silver in sixth-century Megara would have been Milesian electrum, but its use in the Palintokia is improbable. The interest on agricultural loans would have been small sums, inconvenient when paid in electrum coins of high value. In any case, there was an insufficient amount of coinage in circulation to mediate the majority of the transactions taking place in a community. Thus, the Palintokia must have had a nominal character.
§51. Loans themselves in a premonetary economy deserve closer scrutiny. The Palintokia was not a measure designed to relieve a class of commercial debtors. Rather, it finds its proper place with the agrarian legislation of which the Seisakhtheia at Athens was a part. [54] The unique names of both laws served to maintain their memory, while most of archaic social legislation has been lost. No matter what mechanism the Megarians used to raise capital for commerce, craft, or slave purchase, these operations could not lead to the Palintokia; their pressure groups or constituencies were too small. Merchants, slave purchasers, and workshop owners could never have been called poor as Plutarch calls the agitators for the Palintokia. The Palintokia was meant to relieve an agricultural debtor group: they alone might dream of doing without loans in the future. Who would lend again to merchants who had demanded their interest back from their creditors? Agrarian debt in a premonetary economy was not articulated in purely economic terms. At Athens before Solon, one could be enslaved for failure to repay a loan; that is, failure to fulfill an economic agreement entailed changes in social and political status. These changes in status perhaps began with the very act of falling into debt, as the existence of the class of hektēmoroi ‘sixth-parters’ at Athens indicates. Loans were usually in foodstuffs or in seed grain, provisions for life itself. Borrowing was seldom a one-time affair, as marginal farms were repeatedly in need. In this atmosphere, loans were not quantified (in this regard, the absence of coinage is significant) and tended to become open-ended. Thus, a form of bondage was {147|148} created with the obligations of the debtors being political, religious, and/or fiscal. Political duties might have included membership in the political following of the rich as in the case of the regional parties in Attica. Religious obligations could have involved deference and support in ritual contexts as in contributions to sacrifices where the priests took away part of the meat. Finally, obligations could have been fiscal, where regular, taxlike payments were exacted, as in participation in an Athenian naucrary, a tax unit for the provision of ships. To be a debtor was not a contractual situation but entailed a castelike status. To lend or to borrow was a hereditary role.
§52. To describe the Palintokia in these terms, however, is not to paint a totally bleak picture of economic life in sixth-century Megara before its enactment. The redistributory apparatus that I have hypothesized would have acted as a palliation. Nonetheless, against this background the radical character of the Palintokia can be seen. The dissemination of the idea of coinage made it possible to quantify the traditional services of debtors to creditors. This “interest” (presumably measured in current prices) cannot but have been arbitrary, nor was there sufficient currency available to make repayment. Hence, it is not surprising that confiscations and exiles followed. The concept of Palintokia may have been designed to tip a mechanism for redistribution over into expropriation. It is significant that in Aristotle’s more general account of the fall of the Megarian democracy, he speaks of the demagogues’ confiscating (the verb dēmeuein) the khrēmata ‘property’ of the gnōrimoi ‘political elite’ (Aristotle Politics 1304b36–38). The Palintokia, then, in an account obviously hostile to Megarian democracy, could be portrayed as mere expropriation. We have already seen an example of the same behavior in the expenses levied on a Megarian khorēgos (see above, §41). From this perspective, it becomes obvious why the Seisakhtheia seemed moderate to the ancients, while the Palintokia was extreme. The Seisakhtheia ended debtor status at a time when most creditors had long since recovered the value of their loans in real terms. The inception of money (not the prevalence of coins) allowed the Megarians not only to abolish their debtor class but to undertake a massive shift of wealth to the former debtors.
§53. When an evaluation of Megarian social history focuses on the Palintokia, the conclusion is that the Megarian democrats seem to have been the initiators of disequilibrium at Megara. Whether encroachments by the rich (like the self-aggrandizement that Theagenes had reacted against) had driven the poor, resistant to acquiescing in economic dependency, to counterattack, is unknown. It is noteworthy {148|149} that Megara did not mint coins until the fourth century. Previously, the Megarians had been imitators of Corinth, insofar as they had become colonizers like their Corinthian neighbors. Corinth was producing currency in the sixth century (from 570/560?). Possibly the Megarians used the coins of their Aiginetan, Corinthian, and Athenian neighbors. But the absence of a local coinage may have retarded the fiscal development of the Megarian government and slowed its adoption of new taxes and types of expenditure (building programs, the development of a fleet, and liturgies) which recirculated the wealth of a community. The stability of the oligarchies at Aigina and Corinth may be partially attributable to these phenomena. Such stability was not achieved through the subjugation of the lower orders by an exploitative elite. The ability of the Corinthians and Aiginetans to man large fleets of triremes shows that the nonelite members of the community who provided rowers for the fleets accepted the directives of the government. Where the elite sponsored the adoption of money, traditional patterns of redistribution may have been reformulated in monetary terms. [55]
§54. I have already posited a democratic, populist agitation for a sharing of the property of the wealthy among the dēmos, one in which techniques of expropriation like the Palintokia may have played a part. I shall now consider the Theognidean perspective on the distribution of goods in society. It has been argued that verse 678 expresses a Megarian equivalent of what the Athenians would call isonomiā ‘equality under the law’ or ‘equal reciprocity’. [56]

“δασμὸς δ᾽ οὐκέτ᾽ ἴσος γίνεται ἐς τὸ μέσον.”
Theognis 678
“No longer is there equal division in the middle.”

The phrase isos dasmos means equal division of political influence, like isonomiā. Yet, dasmos is primarily used in connection with the division of booty, as in its only appearance in the Iliad (I 166), a sense in which the verb dateomai is common. [57] Another usage of dateomai is to describe the division of an estate among heirs (Iliad {149|150} V 158; Odyssey xiv 208; cf. Hesiod WD 37) and the division of food for a human meal (Odyssey i 112, iii 66, xix 425, xx 280) or of carrion among animals (Iliad XXII 354, XXIII 21; Odyssey xviii 87, xxii 476). Here dateomai could mean ‘divide among interested parties’, but, given the close relationship of warfare and hunting, the sense ‘divide as booty’ is not very foreign. Moreover, dasmos appears in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 86, where the position of Hades is described as based on the division of the kosmos. Similarly, in Theogony 425, dasmos marks the position of Hekate after the dasmos following the defeat of the Titans. In these passages, one ought to think of a division of booty at the beginning of the reign of Zeus. [58] The fifth-century meaning ‘tribute’ is an extension of the idea of division of booty, for tribute is merely the usufruct over time of a share in booty. [59] Nonetheless, Cerri notes correctly that the phrase es meson ‘in the middle’ is associated with isonomiā in Herodotus (3.80.2, cf.80.6; 3.142.3). [60] The phrase es meson, however, need mean nothing more than ‘in public’, that is, deliberatively (Iliad XXIII 574; Herodotus 4.161.3). Hence, it is inevitably contrasted with one-man rule, as demonstrated by Herodotus, but is also compatible with the range of nontyrannical regimes. Therefore, there is a strong possibility that Theognis 678 refers to a dasmos as a division of booty. Thus, it would allude to a view that saw the socioeconomic status quo at Megara as going back to dispositions made by the Dorian conquerors of the Megarid. Almost any widening of political rights, any social mobility, and any change in the composition of the elite might disrupt this original order. If dasmos has the connotation merely of ‘division among interested parties’, there is still an important difference between an isos dasmos and isonomiā. A dasmos is imposed from above; its dynamic is generated by a leader. An isonomiā is a reciprocal feature of dynamic forces within society.

§55. A recurring pattern in the Theognidea allows us to delve further into the oligarchic ideology of the Megarians. The corpus opens with a strong evocation of the marriage of Kadmos, the founder of Thebes, to Harmonia, a personification of good social order (vv. 15–18). Thebes is the ideal counterimage to disordered Megara. [61] The {150|151} mythological connections between Thebes and Megara (grounded in Dark Age population movements?) provide a basis for such a formulation. Moreover, Philolaos, a Corinthian émigré; of the Bacchiad clan, was a legislator at Thebes. He enacted laws on procreation (cf. Theognis vv. 183–192) in order to maintain the same number of klēroi ‘allotments’ or ‘households’ (Aristotle Politics 1274a32–b5). [62] So the image of Thebes could be involved with institutional patterns inherited by Megara from Bacchiad Corinth. An effort to keep the number of households the same and to regulate the number of children raised mandated not only that the political class be maintained at the same number but also that the relative economic status of members of the community remain the same. Also, in light of the pederastic ideology so prominent in the second book of the Theognidea, it is striking that Aristotle visualized Philolaos as an erastēs ‘active homosexual participant’.
§56. Thebes must have begun to cast an even greater shadow at Megara when the Thebans became the leaders of the Boiotian League (after 550). [63] Toward the end of the sixth century, Thebes was exerting pressure on Plataea, immediately to the north of the Megarid (see the Chronological Table, Note R). Democratic Megara included Tanagrans in her colony Heraclea (see Chronological Table, Note E). By 509, Tanagra belonged to the Boiotian League (Herodotus 5.79.2). By the period of the Persian Wars, Thebes was a narrow oligarchy, a dunasteiā (Thucydides 3.62.3). Near the end of Book I of the corpus (vv. 1209–1216), the speaker identifies himself as Aithon in genos ‘race’ or ‘extraction’, who inhabits Thebes in exile from his homeland (see below, §58). He goes on to retort to a female interlocutor named Arguris, who reproached him for his exile, that he is not a slave. The emphasis falls in a fashion typical of the Theognidea on inheriting the status of free man or slave. He has a city in the Lethaian Plain. Here, if Nagy is correct, the recurring figure of the exile is assimilated to a dead man. [64] The despair of the exile is poignant, but it has an added point: the world of the dead can also be {151|152} equated with utopia. [65] Thus, there is an intersection between the underworld and Thebes, paradigm of reconstituted Megara.
§57. It may be possible to understand better the ideological relationship between Megara and Thebes if the parallel connection between Sparta and Crete is considered. At Sparta, primitive institutions (such as the year classes, or the krupteiā) were reformulated during the Dark Age and archaic period. There also, Lycurgus was evoked as the authority for successive reinstitutionalizations in a community which, especially before 550, was indeed conservative but by no means static. [66] To the Spartans, reforms were truly revolutionary, since they sought to recover the original values or consensus of the society. Yet, change cannot be exorcised from popular memory. So even conservative reinstitutionalizations generate societal tension. The Spartan attitude toward Crete was a relief mechanism. Lycurgus supposedly derived his constitution from there (Plutarch Lycurgus 4.1–3; Aristotle Politics 1271b20–27; cf. 1274a29; Polybius 6.45–46). Historically, it is improbable that the Spartans derived anything substantive from the Cretans, who continued to live in a primitive, relatively undifferentiated social order. Superficial similarities between Spartan and Cretan institutions were a matter of common inheritances. However, the similarities enabled the Spartans to hold up a mirror (Crete) to their own society. If we assume a similar impulse in the Megarians to justify social evolution by reference to some external point of comparison, the emphasis on Thebes in the Theognidea can be understood. Bacchiad Corinth was a dim memory to sixth-century Megarians; contemporary Corinth was a political opponent. Thebes was nearby, with a congenial political order. But consensus was lacking at Megara. The Megarians did not have the fertile plains of Boiotia to stabilize their society around farming.
§58. Aithon upholds his position against Arguris, who has experienced slavery, while the speaker, for all his other troubles, has not. Her name is an adaptation of the word for silver, arguros. The name is unattested otherwise, but compare Khrusis, the name of a courtesan (Lucian Courtesan Dialogues 299–301). Can Arguris be a generic figure who embodies the capacity for enslaving or for confounding social distinctions inherent in money? The servile Arguris, perhaps freed and grown rich, crudely taunts Aithon about his ancestry in a {152|153} fashion reminiscent of a slave of comedy and of the crude invective with which Megarian Comedy is associated.
§59. In verses 903–932, the poet addresses one Demokles ‘He whose kleos is of the dēmos’. He ought to represent an upholder of the populist cause. When we recall the role of the redistribution of material goods as an integrating social influence in the political behavior of the Megarian dēmos, and the prominence of sharing food and drink in Megarian comedy, Theognis 903–932 can be read as a rejection of these attitudes and as an admonition to Demokles against them. What is most remarkable in this section is the poet’s attitude toward khrēmata ‘money’ or ‘property’. A man’s total of khrēmata is fixed. This is troublesome because the duration of life is unknown. Accomplishing few things (erga telōn oliga, v. 914) is preferable if one can match his resources to his lifetime. There is no entrepreneurial spirit here. The poet is uninterested in his succession and alienated from community and family. The wealth of the rich man, whose fate is to be avoided, falls into the hands of an epitukhōn ‘any chance person’ (v. 918). The poet laments that this rich man did not give his property to someone whom the rich man might have chosen. This is an odd statement, inasmuch as Greek cities customarily legislated carefully about succession to estates. The poet is perhaps thinking of a situation where heirs with a better legal claim than the chosen person would have existed, so that testamentary freedom would not be available to the speaker. When Theognis comes to draw conclusions from the examples of the rich man at death and the beggar before death, his advice is to give the kamatos ‘fruit of one’s labor’ (v. 925) to no one. The epitukhōn is any heir, and the person of choice is someone to whom the money is to be given in life. The ideal of the speaker is to have consumed all his resources at death. Compare Theognis 271–278, which expresses the view that the most wretched misfortune occurs when children, gaining control of their father’s property, hate him (cf. 719–728). The poetry of the Theognidea is most hostile toward acquisition (vv. 145–148, 197–202), and the pursuit of kerdos ‘profit’ is a cause of public ills (vv. 39–52; cf. 83–86, 465–466). In verses 903–932, these attitudes reach an extreme formulation. Perhaps we are glimpsing the oligarchic rejection of any distribution, an egotistical reduction that sees man as consumer, not as creator or sharer.
§60. When the democratic government was overthrown at Megara, it was because the number of exiles had grown great (Aristotle Politics 1300a17–19). The exiles established a rule that only those who had overthrown the democracy and established the oligarchy (and {153|154} presumably their descendants) could hold office. This enactment indicates a situation where few common values exist to provide a basis for cooperation in political life. Only the criterion of party affiliation can be applied (see the Chronological Table, Notes P, Q). It is not surprising that this regime was stable precisely because the Spartan alliance kept away from Megara the sort of external pressures which had probably created ideological ferment there in the sixth century.
§61. An argument has been made here to the effect that populist and oligarchic ideologies at Megara were shared by colonial Megarians, along with the generic expressions of these ideologies. Is there then any indication of a similar sequence of ideological confrontations in the colonies? Aristotle testifies to the fact that democracy at Nisaean Megara ended in a manner similar to that of the democracy at Heraclea Pontica. Presumably, the Heraclean democracy fell first; hence, his order of comparison. The democracy at Heraclea fell shortly after the foundation of the colony (Politics 1304b31–34), and, as we have seen, Megarian democracy probably lasted into the second half of the sixth century (see the Chronological Table, Notes N, P, Q, R). Apart from this parallel, Aristotle does not give us much information about Heraclea; not enough, that is, to test properly our theory of ideological parallelism. There are, however, several details in the Politics which are suggestive. At a subsequent stage of the constitutional history of Heraclea, the officeholding group numbered very few, with only one member from each family of the elite (1305b11–12). The total number of these oligarchs was quite low, because the next stage in constitutional development saw the government expanded to 600. So, the Heraclean democracy gave way to a narrow oligarchy, which, in accordance with Theognidean strictures, probably forbade exogamy of the agathoi with the kakoi. Such a feature usually accompanied single representation of elite families. The succeeding regime of 600 fell before the agitation of demagogues (1305b36). Apparently the legal apparatus had not been staffed from the entire body of citizens. Did the ruling class monopolize judgment as exponents of dikē, with the 600 alone serving as jurors? Another passage may give more detail about this collapse. A judgment in court on a charge of adultery against one Eurytion, both dikaios ‘just’ and stasiōtikos ‘factional’, triggered the change (Politics 1306a36–b1). While mere adultery may have been the substance of the charge, it is also possible that a marriage between social classes, forbidden by law, was envisaged as adultery. [67] {154|155}
§62. Some further evidence comes from Megara Hyblaea and Selinous, which again draws our attention to the similarity of ideology between colony and mother city and to the differing timing of constitutional change. An inscription, dated to shortly after 500 according to letter forms, reports provisions for the settlement at Selinous of a group of exiles from Megara. [68] It has usually been assumed that this is Megara Hyblaea, although there is no firm evidence other than the mention of Selinous. The document was recorded at Olympia on a bronze plaque, suggesting that it was a treaty between Selinous and the city of origin of the exiles—or between Selinous and the exiles themselves, envisaged as a colony. One may note that the theme of exile, prominent in the Theognidea, would have evoked a response from those Sicilian Megarians involved in this affair. Provisions about khrēmata ‘property’ appear at several points in the fragmentary document, and in one place the appropriation of property by the state is at issue. One might observe the prominence elsewhere in Megarian history of confiscation. There is also a discussion of the disposition of property after the death of a parent (cf. above, §59). More hypothetical (yet tantalizing) is the restoration peri ano [siō] n [peri kixal] lān ‘concerning the impious and concerning highway robbers’. The last reference is reminiscent of the story of the hamaxokulistai ‘wagon-rollers’, who were exiled from Nisaean Megara for their impious attack on Peloponnesian sacred ambassadors (see the Chronological Table, Notes N, P).
§63. Megara’s oligarchic government ran into trouble as soon as external pressures renewed themselves. Spartan absorption in the Helot revolt gave Corinth her opportunity to attempt to subjugate Megara (Thucydides 1.103.4; Diodorus Siculus 11.79.1–2; Plutarch Cimon 17.1–2). Megara appealed to Athens. War broke out between the Peloponnesians and Athenians (Thucydides 1.105.1–6,108.2; Diodorus Siculus 11.79.3–4). The Athenians admirably upheld the cause of their Megarian ally, but the Megarian government decided to defect from the Athenians after Sparta had given indications that it would not tolerate Athenian hegemony in central Greece {155|156} (Thucydides 1.114.1–2; Diodorus Siculus 12.5.2, 6.1; Plutarch Moralia 402A; Pericles 22.1). At this point, the remarkable figure of Pythion deserves attention. When the Megarians revolted from Athens and slew the Athenian troops in their territory, Pythion saved three Athenian tribal regiments under the command of Andokides. They had become trapped in the Megarid. We learn these facts from the grave monument of Pythion, who was buried at Athens (IG I2 1085 = Meiggs-Lewis no. 51.5–6). Pythion, a Megarian who boasts that he fought most bravely on behalf of his polis (boasting of seven slain enemies, line 2), identified to such an extent with Athens that he lost his homeland. Pythion was a Megarian democrat (eukleizōn eni dēmōi ‘having won fame among the people’, line 4) and, for all we know, a patriotic Megarian, but he seems to have been a democrat first; hence, he threw in his lot with the Athenians. Moreover, he helped Andokides lead away two thousand andrapoda ‘slaves’ (line 7). If they were all Megarian, they must have been most of the slave population of the Megarid. Their loss offers an ironic postscript to archaic Megarian redistribution.
§64. Pythion was a harbinger of the future ideological struggles at Megara. By 424, during the Peloponnesian War, an oligarchy had given way to a democracy (which tried to maintain alliance with Sparta). The democracy came under pressure from a group of exiles (Thucydides 4.66–73). They had been established at first by the Spartans at Plataea, and then they had seized the Megarian port city of Pagai, from which they raided the Megarians in the city. The Megarian government then attempted to bring in the Athenians. When the Athenians failed to occupy Megara (capturing only its port of Nisaea), the exiles were restored in a general reconciliation of oligarchs and democrats. Thereafter, they executed those suspected of intrigue with Athens and set up an extreme oligarchy (Thucydides 4.74.3–4). There is justification for suspecting that at this stage democratic and oligarchic ideology in Megara no longer offered much hope for reorganizing Megarian society. The old ideologies of the sixth century did not provide the skills needed to survive in a world of implacable power blocs. After the terrible suffering of the Megarians in the Peloponnesian War, the city seems to have predicated its policy on passivity and a playing off of its stronger neighbors against each other. [69] The armies of the fourth century crossed the Megarid at will. {156|157} The Megarians had become spectators in their own land. Such survival is bought at some psychological cost, in a context as pervaded with territoriality as was the life of the classical polis. Even the oligarchic Megareis, I suggest, were uninterested in Theognis because they could not empathize with his value system.
§65. The true successors of the sixth-century Megarian ideologues were the Athenians. The surviving references to Megarian comedy are too glancing for the debt of Attic Old Comedy to Megarian comedy to be properly gauged. [70] It is worth remembering, however, that in Aristophanes’ Wasps, where the author sensitizes his audience to the Megarian affinities of the work, we find a sustained juxtaposition of the comic hero Philokleon against the mores of an aristocratic behavior pattern focused on the symposium. [71] On the other side of the ideological spectrum, Xenophon wrote a treatise on Theognis (Stobaeus Florilegium 88.14). Critias, leader of the extreme oligarchical regime of the Thirty, was an elegiac poet who imitated the Theognidean idea of the sphrēgis ‘seal’ (v. 19; Critias fr. 5 W). Plato, by quoting from it, shows his interest in the corpus (Meno 95D–96A; Laws 630A). [72] Athenian oligarchs felt so akin to archaic Megarian aristocratic poetry that it is uncertain how much of the final state of the corpus is owed to Athenian reception and mediation. The plight of the Megarians in ideological terms is not all that different from their misery in the Acharnians (729–835). There the Megarian sells {157|158} his daughters as pigs, a code word for female genitalia. The Megarians have become passive and feminized in the face of Athenian power. [73] To adapt the language of Wilamowitz, Megarian comedy had become jokes about Megarians rather than by them.


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[ back ] 1. Cf., e.g., Harrison 1902.268–303 (from a literary critical perspective); Oost 1973 (from the vantage point of a historian).
[ back ] 2. One particular formulation of this idea is to hold that passages that name Kyrnos are authentic, belonging to Theognis himself, and that this interpretation is supported by the sphrēgis (v. 19) passage. It is unlikely that anyone would have been so naive as to believe that the affixing of a name could guarantee a body of poetry against tampering. Even had Theognis meant Kyrnos by his sphrēgis, it is unreasonable to assume that later poets, trying to appropriate his authority, were not sufficiently competent to work the name into their verses. If Theognis’ seal was the name Kyrnos, what was the seal of Critias in fr. 5 W? Would anyone care to argue that it must be the name Alkibiades?
[ back ] 3. For the historical evidence about early Megara, see Okin Ch.1 above.
[ back ] 4. Halliday 1928.92; Giessen 1901.461–465. Halliday believes that Questions 18 and 59 are almost certainly from the Constitution, but is less certain about 16 and 17, with his strongest doubts about 16 because of its last sentence.
[ back ] 5. Question 16 deals with the origin in the prehistoric period of an article of Megarian women’s dress, the aphabrōma. In Question 17, the early Megarian pattern of xeniā between doruxenoi (see the Chronological Table, Notes A, B) is traced to warfare among the five Megarian kōmai. The subject of Question 18 is the extreme democracy, which led to legislation providing for the return of interest to debtors, the Palintokia (Note Q). Question 59 explains the derivation of the term “wagon-rollers” by a reference to an atrocity committed against a group of Peloponnesian ambassadors on their way to Delphi at the time of the democracy (Note P).
[ back ] 6. Piccirilli 1975; Jacoby FGH 484–487; Komm. 3b.389–400; Noten 3b.229–237. Cf. also the discussion in Okin Ch.1§§9–10, §§18–22.
[ back ] 7. Piccirilli 1975.9 (for Praxion and Dieuchidas); Wilamowitz 1884.259–260n22; Jacoby FGH Komm. 3b 394; Noten 233–234 (for Hereas and Heragoras).
[ back ] 8. Prakken 1941.348; Davison 1959.221.
[ back ] 9. The Megareis may be contrasted with the number of entries in the FGH for Athens (323a–375), Sparta (580–598), Samos (534–545), and Rhodes (507–533). In number of representatives the Megarian local historical tradition is comparable with that of Corinth (451–455) or Aigina (299–300).
[ back ] 10. De Ste. Croix 1972.387 notes Hereas’ insertion of a discussion of Peisistratid interpolations into a passage dealing with Theseus (Plutarch Theseus 20.1–2). At particular issue are a line said to have been deleted by Peisistratos from a Hesiodic work, Aigimios (fr. 298) and a line inserted into the Nekuia (Odyssey xi 631).
[ back ] 11. In his discussion of the Megarian Decree, Plutarch gives an important part to the assassination by the Megarians of the Athenian herald Anthemokritos. The Megarians denied this charge and attempted to cast the blame for the Peloponnesian War on Pericles and Aspasia by citing, according to Plutarch, Aristophanes’ Acharnians 524–527. This narrative is difficult to reconcile with Thucydides, who is silent about the incident involving Anthemokritos. Does one conclude from Thucydides’ silence that the historian has deliberately suppressed evidence or merely that Plutarch must be mistaken? The latter alternative appears preferable, and one solution along these lines is to move the Anthemokritos episode to the fourth century (Connor 1962). But it is unlikely that the Megareis, cited as a source by Plutarch, can ever have been so misinformed about fifth- and fourth-century Megarian history, if Megareis means Megarian historians here (Dover 1966.204–206). Yet Plutarch’s treatment of the Anthemokritos episode seems compressed. The denial of the murder of Anthemokritos and the casting of blame onto Pericles cannot have been successive stages in the same argument. After all, Anthemokritos was dead. Any Megarian exculpation for the murder of a herald, a damning accusation in any context, ought to have been much more detailed. That the Megarians denied responsibility for the death of Anthemokritos might be a deduction from the fact that they blamed Pericles and Aspasia. In this case, the chronological error belongs to Plutarch. The most that can be attributed to the Megareis here is that they cited Aristophanes for support of their charges. Periclean responsibility for the Peloponnesian War (including the causation of the Megarian Decree[s]) was a topic treated by the Atthidographers (cf. Philochorus FGH 328 F 121; FGH Komm. 3b Suppl. 1.484–491). It is likely that on this subject the Megarian local historians were carrying on their dialogue/debate with them. Yet this interpretation is not obviously preferable to the simple but more radical solution that Megareis means only Megarians here (cf. the doruxenoi). Connor would have us compare Theseus 27.8. The general character of the Megareis and the unlikelihood that the account of Plutarch is to be preferred to that of Thucydides tells against the existence in the Megarika of a thorough narrative on the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War (Connor 1970; de Ste. Croix 1972.246–251, 386–388).
[ back ] 12. For Praxion (or another one of the Megareis) as Aristotle’s source: Piccirilli 1975.141–150; for Dieuchidas as source: Wilamowitz 1937.384n1; for Hereas as source (which I think improbable): Gudeman 1934.111.
[ back ] 13. Praxion and Dieuchidas have been dated to the second quarter and the second half of the fourth century, respectively, on the basis of SIG3 241.142, which mentions a Dieuchidas, the son of Praxion, as a nāopoios ‘temple-building official’ at Delphi between 338/7 and 330/29 (Piccirilli 1975.9–10, 14–15). If one denies, however, that the persons mentioned in the inscription are to be equated with the Megareis, it might be possible to date Dieuchidas at the turn from the third to the second century on internal grounds (Davison 1959.221). It is possible that Hereas can only have written as he did about Athenian burial customs after the legislation of Demetrios of Phaleron in 317/16 (Prakken 1943–1944.123). Hereas ought to have preceded Hermippos and Istros (both third century), who perhaps used him and who were the intermediaries through which Plutarch had access to his work (Piccirilli 1975.55–56). If Hereas is the same man who is known as a sacred ambassador from IG VII 39, he is to be dated c. 300 (Jacoby FGH Komm. 3b.394, Noten 233–234). Note also the Megarian Kallikrates, son of Hereas, a proxenos ‘consul’ or ‘representative’ attested at Delphi (FdD 3.1.189; cf. IG VII 141).
[ back ] 14. Else 1957.123 suggests Dikaiarkhos or Aristoxenos.
[ back ] 15. See Piccirilli 1975.6, 14, 31, 70, 82 for Hermippos as a source for Dieuchidas (FGH 485 F 5, F 6 [= Diogenes Laertius 1.57]), and for Hereas (FGH 486 F 3). Piccirilli also suggests the Atthidographer Istros as a source for the lives of Solon and Lycurgus, following Jacoby (FGH 34 Komm. 3b Suppl. 635). Istros is a poor choice for the one who selected out historical data as an intermediary to the Megarika. The Megarika, if they had been continuous historical narratives, would necessarily have been filled with polemics against Athens because of the frequent conflicts between the Athenians and the Megarians. The Atthidographers would have made an effort to refute anti-Athenian material and would necessarily have transmitted much Megarian historiography to Istros.
[ back ] 16. Cf. Okin Ch.1 §§11–16 above.
[ back ] 17. Fragments 5, 101, 114, 133; cf.Pindar P. 2.55; Critias in Aelian Varia Historia 10.13;Aristotle Rhetoric 1398b11–12; Valerius Maximus 6.3.1, external.
[ back ] 18. The Hellenistic Parian tradition on Archilochus (somewhat surprisingly) emphasizes his service to the polis as good citizen and warrior and singles out his intervention in establishing the cult of Dionysos as especially significant. Archilochus may be noted in the third-century Parian chronographic document, the Marmor Parium, under the year 682/1 (FGH 239 A 33); in a biographical inscription of Mnesiepes nearly contemporary with the Marmor Parium (SEG XV.517; cf. XVI.481; XIX.557); and in the Demeas/Sosthenes inscription of c. 100, which gives as its source a lost account of Sosthenes (IG XII.5 445 = FGH 502 F 1; cf. SEG XV.518). Note also the Archilocheion, a cult place dedicated to the poet, and the honors awarded by the Parians to the poet as attested byAristotle (Rhetoric 1398b10–11). See Mayo 1973; Kontoleon 1963.
[ back ] 19. Van Groningen 1966.301–302. Cf. Highbarger 1937.109–111, who is not to be followed in his attempts to find references in the Theognidea to the Persian conquest of Ionia in 546 and to the Marathon campaign.
[ back ] 20. Magistracies and political subdivisions: Oost 1973.186n4; Hanell 1934.137–160.
[ back ] 21. Note Beloch 1888.729–733 for the sort of precarious reasoning required for attempts to determine the homeland of Theognis on the basis of the internal evidence of the corpus. Cf. Harrison 1902.268–281.
[ back ] 22. Wehrli 1974.
[ back ] 23. Consider also Xenophon’s treatise on Theognis. If the surviving passage is typical (Stobaeus Florilegium 88.14), the treatise amounted to an exegesis of passages investigating constants of human nature. Contrast Xenophon’s Hiero on the conduct and pleasures of tyrants, which has as interlocutors the Syracusan tyrant Hieron and the poet Simonides. The last section of the dialogue, containing Simonides’ advice to Hieron, was probably based on Simonidean victory odes, which offered political admonition. Whereas Simonides’ poetry could be encapsulated in a dialogue, because traditions existed about his life to dramatize his relationship with Hieron, for Theognis it seems that nothing remained but the poetry itself.
[ back ] 24. Carrière 1948.8–9; Harrison 1902.295–297.
[ back ] 25. Harrison 1902.296–297.
[ back ] 26. For a parallel, consider the putative fragments of the Smyrneis of Mimnermus (frr. 9, 13, 14 W; cf. 13a W, which notes the title). Fragment 14, describing the valiant deeds of a warrior, is hortatory in character, like much of Theognis. Fragment 9, however, mentioning the foundation of Colophon and the capture of Smyrna, is more grounded in history than anything in Theognis. Yet its introduction of the theme of hubris suggests that a crisis (envisaged as present) is to be put in a normative framework. The Sicilian elegy may have approached its occasion, the siege, in the same manner. All colonial poetical traditions shared features of the ktisis ‘foundation’ story.
[ back ] 27. See Okin §1.16 above.
[ back ] 28. Note that astoi is used in the inscription in honor of the Megarian dead from the Persian Wars (Tod 1 no. 20).
[ back ] 29. Such a provision would help explain the scattered villages on the site of Corinth during the eighth and early seventh centuries and the slow development of the settlement on Acrocorinth compared with the settlement on the Temple Hill (Roebuck 1972.121–127).
[ back ] 30. Jacoby 1904.167. For the dates of the Megarian democracy, see the Chronological Table, Note Q.
[ back ] 31. Susarion is mentioned in the Marmor Parium as an inhabitant of the Attic deme Ikaria, where tragedy supposedly originated (Clement Stromateis 1.16.79 = Kaibel CGF 1.1 no. 15, p.77). Susarion appears most frequently in association with an epigram critical of women (Stobaeus Florilegium 69.2). In the epigram and elsewhere Susarion is identified as a Megarian from the town of Tripodiskos (scholia Dionysius Thrax [Kaibel CGF 1.1 no. 2, p.14]; J. Tzetzes, De comoedia graeca [Kaibel CGF 1.1, no. 6, pp.18, 27, 77]). Other versions do not attribute the verses to Susarion (e.g., scholia Aristophanes Lysistrata 1039) or do not identify Susarion as a Megarian (Diomedes Grammaticus [Kaibel CGF 1.1 no. 11, p.58]). For all references, see Piccirilli 1975.142–143, 149; cf. Piccirilli 1974. The identification of Susarion as a Megarian has been seen as apocryphal, since the verses attributed to him are in the Attic dialect and are perhaps reminiscent of New Comedy (Wilamowitz 1875.337–338; Pickard-Cambridge 1962.179–187). Another Megarian, Tolynos, said to have anticipated Cratinus, invented a meter called the Tolunion (Etymologicum Magnum s.v. “ Tolunion,” p. 761.47). Piccirilli offers a complex stemma for the surviving accounts and insists upon a basis in sound Megarian tradition, represented by the Megareis, for the idea of Megarian invention of comedy (Piccirilli 1975.144–148; 1974.1293–1299). The notion of Susarion as a Megarian attests to the associations of archaic Megara and comedy, which must have been especially strong to support such a claim in face of the obvious prestige of Attic Old Comedy.
[ back ] 32. Cf. Peace 741–749, where the superiority of Aristophanic humor to the use of Herakles as baking (cf. Maison), fleeing, beaten, or swindling is emphasized; or Peace 961–965, where a slave is urged to throw barley groats to the audience. There is, however, no direct mention of Megarian comedy.
[ back ] 33. For the conventional view of the association of kōmōidiā and kōmē, see Else 1957.118–121. See Levine Ch.7 §§36–39 below for a more conservative judgment.
[ back ] 34. Scholia Dionysius Thrax (Kaibel CGF 1.1 no. 4, pp.11–14); cf. Etymologicum Magnum s.v. “ tragōidiā,” p.764.1; John the Deacon Commentary on Hermogenes, Peri methodou deinotētos: see Rabe 1908. The story concludes with a reference to the origination of comedy by Susarion (Kaibel CGF 1.1 no. 4, p.14).
[ back ] 35. Cf. Edmunds Ch.4 §§7–8 above; also Nagy Ch.2 §§2–5 above.
[ back ] 36. The adolescent Spartan was the counterpart of his father, who drew his food from his klēros ‘allotment’ and ate it at a steady, moderate rate. In passing from adolescence, the young Spartiate’s thefts from the Helots reenacted his forefathers’ conquest of the same Helots and reaffirmed that the Helot was the ideological mirror image of the Spartiate. Cf. Figueira 1984.
[ back ] 37. Pickard-Cambridge 1962.230–239.
[ back ] 38. Iamblichus Life of Pythagoras 266 (cf. Plutarch How a Flatterer is Distinguished from a Friend 27 = Moralia 68A) reports that Epicharmus was forced from fear of Hieron’s tyranny to put his philosophical ideas into verse. Here the idea of encoding political values in comedy is apparent.
[ back ] 39. For Heraclea, see the Chronological Table, Notes E, Q. The vigor of local history at Heraclea may be observed in the number of its practitioners: Promathidas (FGH 430), Amphitheos (431), Nymphis (432), Domitios Kallistratos (433), and Memnon (434). Heraclean historians occupy 43 pages of text in Jacoby, compared to 7 pages for the Megareis.
[ back ] 40. Heracleides Ponticus (Diogenes Laertius 5.86–93): Wehrli 1953. Note that he wrote a Peri Arkhēs (frr. 144–145) and a Peri Nomōn (frr. 146–150). For Heraclea in Aristotle’s Politics: 1304b31–34,1305b5,11–12,1305b36,1306a36–1306b1,1327b14. InPolitics 1304b31–34, a description of the fall of the democracy at Heraclea is directly followed by a notice of the fall of the democracy at Megara. This is perhaps an indication that these two data had the same source. Cf. Okin Ch.1 §§17–20 above.
[ back ] 41. Wehrli 1957. The apparent absence of a biography of Theognis in Chamaeleon is striking, because he wrote lives of Hesiod (fr. 23), Alcman (frr. 24–25), Sappho (frr. 26–27), Stesichorus (frr. 28–29), Anacreon (fr. 36), Simonides (frr. 33–35), Lasos (fr. 30), Aeschylus (frr. 39–42), and Pindar (frr. 31–32).
[ back ] 42. Both fragments are from Book 6. Fragment 44 refers to Hegemon of Thasos, a contemporary of Alkibiades, whose Gigantomachy was supposedly in performance when the Sicilian disaster of 413 was announced. Fragment 43 tells an anecdote about Anaxandridas of Rhodes, a Middle Comic poet, active after 380 (Suda s.v. “Kameiraia”; IG XIV1098). In a work arranged chronologically, five earlier books on this scale would leave ample space for a discussion of the origins of comedy.
[ back ] 43. In the corpus, kōmos (vv. 829, 940, 1046; cf. kōmazō [vv. 886, 1065, 1207, 1351–1352]) is analogous to sumposion (298, 496). Whether sussitos ‘messmate’ (v. 309) has a general meaning (= hetairos ) is unknown. However, if Megara had officially recognized sussitia ‘public messes’ as Sparta had, it would be easy to explain how some of the material entered the corpus from Nisaean Megara as the political poetry appropriate to such a setting. In that case, elsewhere in the corpus, the term sussition may have been removed by a conventionalizing process.
[ back ] 44. Polybius 8.30.6–9 uses the same oracle to explain, somewhat less effectively, the presence of graves within the walls of Tarentum.
[ back ] 45. See Nagy Ch.2 §§64–67 above.
[ back ] 46. I mention the satyr play with some hesitation, since some of its stock themes have no counterpart (as far as we know) in Megarian comedy (e.g., the destruction of an ogre, athletic competition), though in both genres appearances of Herakles were frequent and hospitality prominently featured (Sutton 1980.145–159). Padded dancers on Corinthian pots (Pickard-Cambridge 1962.100–101, 171–173) and the role of Pratinas of Phlious (near Corinth) in the development of the satyr play (T 1, 7, 8; F 2, 3 [Snell]; Athenaeus 14.617B) point to the vitality in the vicinity of Megara of this dramatic form in its earliest manifestations.
[ back ] 47. See Figueira 1984.
[ back ] 48. Cf. Nagy §2.29 above.
[ back ] 49. Oost 1973.190; Ure 1922.264–268 (for an even more modernist view).
[ back ] 50. Hanell 1934.202.
[ back ] 51. Alternatively, the story of Theagenes’ slaughter of the flocks of the wealthy could have been created in the form that it has come down to us in order to provide an aition for the rhoos, for the fountainhouse of Theagenes, and for the festival Potamia.
[ back ] 52. Muller 1981.203–207.
[ back ] 53. In general, see Figueira 1981.65–97.
[ back ] 54. For the agrarian/debt legislation of Solon, see the sources cited in Martina 1968.141–146, 246, nos. 274–296, no. 487.
[ back ] 55. Figueira 1981.300–310; cf. Will 1950, 1955b.
[ back ] 56. Cerri 1969.
[ back ] 57. Iliad I 125, 368, IX 138 = 280, 333, XVIII 511, XXII 120; Odyssey ix 42, 549. Compare the suitors’ intention to divide the estate of Odysseus: ii 335, 368, iii 316 = xv 13, xvi 385, xvii 80, xx 216. Another connected use is the division of land in the foundation of a city: Odyssey vi 10; cf. xv 412; Hesiod fr. 233 MW.
[ back ] 58. For the organization of the world by Zeus: Iliad XV 189; Hesiod Theogony 112, 303, 520, 789; fr. 141.15 MW.
[ back ] 59. Aeschylus Persians 586; Sophocles Oedipus Rex 36; Oedipus Coloneus 635. Tributaries are dasmophoroi: Herodotus 3.97.1, 5.106.6, 6.48.2, 6.95.1, 7.51.1, 7.108.1.
[ back ] 60. Cerri 1969.103–104.
[ back ] 61. See Nagy Ch.2 §§6–7 above.
[ back ] 62. Cf. Pheidon of Corinth (Aristotle Politics 1265b12–16; cf.1274a31–b5), who regulated the number of households and citizens. On Philolaos: Will 1955.318. On a priori grounds, one might date Philolaos to the second half of the seventh century, after the expulsion of the Bacchiads (Cloché 1952.26). However, if he is correctly identified by Aristotle as the friend of Diokles, the Olympic victor, he is to be dated c. 728 (Buck 1979.95–96, 103).
[ back ] 63. Jeffery 1976.78–79; Buck 1979.107–117.
[ back ] 64. See Nagy Ch.2§§71–74 above.
[ back ] 65. Gernet 1968.139–153.
[ back ] 66. Cook 1962.156–158.
[ back ] 67. Eventually, Megarian ideological traditions at Heraclea were extinguished. The epistolary novel Chion of Heraclea (Khionos Epistolai) describes in the form of a Bildungsroman the events leading up to the assassination of Klearkhos, tyrant of Heraclea, by Chion, a Heraclean youth and disciple of Plato (cf. Memnon FGH 434 F 1; Justin 16.5.12–18; Aelian fr. 86 [Hercher]; Diodorus Siculus 16.36.3). The motives and attitudes of Chion are presented in terms of Academic tenets with no points of contact with the Megarian antityrannical tradition attested by the Theognidea. See Düring 1951.
[ back ] 68. Dittenberger and Purgold 1896.51–58; Roehl 1882 no. 514; Jeffery 1961.271.
[ back ] 69. Legon 1981.263–266, 273–274, 276, draws attention to this phenomenon.
[ back ] 70. Overzealous attempts to uphold the originality and priority of Attic comedy should not blind us to the possibility that early dramatic forms evolved at several locations in archaic Greece. The extent to which Athenian drama draws on these other forms remains a mystery (cf. Pickard-Cambridge 1962), but the imitation of literary motifs and the dissemination of institutional innovation are the rule rather than the exception during the period. Cf. Wilamowitz 1875.319–341; Breitholtz 1960.40–82; Henderson 1975.223–228.
[ back ] 71. Note Bdelykleon’s coaching of his father, Philokleon, in order to prepare him to attend a symposium (vv. 1121–1264) and the description of Philokleon’s behavior at the symposium (1299–1334).
[ back ] 72. It is difficult to evaluate the effect on the corpus (as we have it) exerted by the interest in it of antidemocratic Athenian ideologues and philosophers of the end of the fifth century. In part, the emphasis on the contrast between agathoi ‘nobles’ and deiloi or kakoi ‘base’ or ‘poor’ in the surviving Theognidea may be because other political themes were less interesting to Athenian oligarchs. The programmatic but nonpragmatic quality of the political sentiments of the Theognidea may have particularly attracted the Athenians. This hypothesis would be valid if the corpus underwent an Athenian phase in its transmission. The selection process, however, would never have been started had not topical political references already been conventionalized in the early history of the corpus.
[ back ] 73. At Megara the tomb of Hippolyte, leader of the Amazons, was pointed out (Pausanias 1.41.7 = FGH 487 F 9). The Megarika reported that, when the Amazons were defeated by the Athenians under Theseus, Hippolyte, disheartened by defeat and at a loss about returning to her homeland, died from grief. The Megarians, so often defeated by the Athenians, identified with Athens’ enemy, even though the enemy was in this case a woman.