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Eupolis
Birth: unknown
Death: unknown

Playwright. One of the three masters of Ancient Greek Old Comedy. He was the contemporary and strongest rival of Aristophanes and was said to have matched the older Cratinus as a political satirist, surpassing both in the elegance and charm of his poetry. Sadly, only fragments of his estimated 14 plays survive, including a sizable excerpt from his most famous comedy, "The Demes" ("Districts", c. 412 BC). Nothing is known of Eupolis' personal life except that he was an Athenian, born around 446 BC. He allegedly made his theatrical debut at age 17 and went on to win seven first prizes for comedy. In his first play, "Prospaltioi" (429 BC), he used the foreign mistress of the demagogue Pericles, Aspasia, as a scapegoat for the Peloponnesian War, comparing her to Helen of Troy. His indignant satires against Pericles' successors Cleon ("The Golden Age", 424 BC) and Hyperbolus ("Maricas", 421 BC) earned him the sobriquet "Angry Eupolis". He also took aim at the dissolute statesman Alcibiades, the general Nicias, philosopher Socrates, the sophist movement, citizens who avoided military service ("Hermaphrodites" - the title alone says what he thought of them), and the orgiastic cult of the Thracian goddess Cotytto ("The Dippers", c. 418 BC). Even the deities weren't exempt from his irreverence. "The Commanders" (c. 423 BC) was a "fish out of water" comedy in which the spoiled, effeminate god Dionysus is put through military boot camp to make him more warlike. In "The Flatterers", which took top honors at the City Dionysia festival in 421 BC, Eupolis established the sycophant as an enduring comic type. A well known literary "feud" of the time pitted Eupolis against Aristophanes. In the revised version of "The Clouds" (c. 419 BC) the latter charged Eupolis with plagiarizing his play "The Knights"; Eupolis countered that he had helped Aristophanes ("my bald friend") write "The Knights" and made him a present of it. How serious this was is debatable - comic poets habitually "borrowed" ideas from each other and just as habitually cried theft. The blatant pots and kettles aspect of the charge was demonstrated by Aristophanes, whom Cratinus had already mocked for ripping off Euripides; he later adapted material from Eupolis for his play "The Frogs" (405 BC) - while still accusing others of plagiarism. Eupolis produced "The Demes" in the aftermath of the Sicilian Expedition (415 to 413 BC), a military catastrophe that left Athens demoralized and desperate. The protagonist, fed up with the current political situation, travels to Hades and brings back four great Athenian leaders (including Pericles) to advise on restoring the city's fortunes. Eupolis' praise of Pericles' oratory skills ("he spoke right past the politicians, from ten feet behind, like a great sprinter") was much quoted thereafter. But looking to the past for inspiration would not help Athens, which fell to Sparta eight years later, or Eupolis himself. His last work was an updated revision of his earlier play "Autolycus"; a topical reference in a fragment dates it to 411 BC, after which all living traces of him cease. Accounts of his fate are conflicting and encrusted with legend. A popular tale in antiquity claimed he joined the navy and was thrown overboard on the way to Sicily by Alcibiades, who did not forgive his attacks; this does not fit his chronology. The commonly accepted version is that he died in a shipwreck at the Hellespont while serving in the Peloponnesian War. A Eupolis turns up on a 411 BC Athenian Navy casualty list, though this is inconclusive as the name was fairly common; the story itself appears, unsourced, no earlier than the "Suda" (10th Century AD). More convincing is an observation in "Description of Greece" (c. 160 AD) by the ancient travel writer Pausanias. He reported seeing "the tomb of Eupolis the Athenian comic poet" outside the city of Sicyon, and gave directions to the site along a road near the banks of the river Asopus. Pausanias was an early taphophile who took note of interesting graves and burial practices in the many places he visited. Modern archaeologists have found his book a reliable guide, so there is little reason to doubt his veracity. But it raises the question of why Eupolis was interred in Sicyon, a city long allied with Sparta against his native Athens. Another historical possibility has been suggested: 411 BC was also the year the Athenian democracy was briefly overthrown in an oligarchical coup. The surviving topical quote from "Autolycus" may be significant: "I already hate Aristarchus as general". Aristarchus was a right-wing extremist who used his new position as general to support the coup with military force; he was later executed for treason. Eupolis might have gotten caught up in the events and then had to defect to an enemy state for his own protection. In that case he was either dead by 403 BC, when a general amnesty was granted to Athenian political exiles, or he chose not to return home. Whatever the circumstances of his demise, he had a major reputation for centuries afterward. The Roman poet Horace (1st Century AD) ranked Eupolis first among the creators of Old Comedy, followed by Cratinus and Aristophanes, and in his "Saturnalia" (c. 420 AD) Macrobius confidently asserted that "Everyone knows Eupolis". Some of his plays continued to be studied through the Middle Ages, just missing the advent of the printing press, when they could have been preserved. (Aristophanes had the last laugh here: he was the first Ancient Greek dramatist whose surviving plays appeared in a printed edition, in 1498). Today the fragments we have make evaluating his work difficult. The graceful lyricism he was admired for is scarcely evident, and his insults, divorced from their context, can come across as mean-spirited and crude. There is also little fantasy or parody to be found in the scraps, making him seem prosaic compared to Aristophanes, which could not have been the case. We do know that along with delivering the expected ribaldry and slander of Old Comedy Eupolis also experimented with the genre. He could make the comedy more raucous by splitting the chorus into opposing groups, and he invented an unusual metrical style of verse (Eupolidean meter) for humorous effect. Rather than confine his topical jibes to the parabasis - a choral interlude that halted the action and served as the playwright's direct mouthpiece - Eupolis is believed to have skillfully woven them into his plots, achieving a smoother, more sustained satire. The loss of his work is among the more tragic of the Ancient Greek canon. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Burial:
Non-Cemetery Burial
Specifically: Tomb of Eupolis (Defunct), Sikyon, Corinthia, Greece. Last documented around 150 AD, site now lost
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
Record added: Mar 22, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 87187530
Eupolis
Added by: Anonymous
 
Eupolis
Added by: Anonymous
 
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- BETA
 Added: Oct. 15, 2015

- R I P
 Added: Jan. 17, 2015

- C
 Added: Nov. 24, 2012
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