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The New International Encyclopædia/Menander (poet)

MENAN′DER (Lat., from Gk, Μένανδρος, Menandros) (B.C. 342–c.291). One of the greatest poets of the Attic New Comedy, born at Athens of a distinguished family. By his uncle, Alexis, the eminent poet of the Middle Comedy, he was initiated into the dramatist's art; his philosophical education he received from association with Theophrastus and Epicurus. He was handsome and fond of luxury. The greater part of his time he spent at his villa in the Peiræus with his beloved Glycera. When Ptolemy Soter gave him a flattering invitation to his Court, Menander declined, preferring his native city and easy independence to royal favor. About B.C. 291 he was drowned while swimming in the harbor of the Peiræus. Menander is said to have won a victory on the comic stage at the age of twenty-one. Yet during his lifetime he was less a favorite than his contemporary Philemon (q.v.). Of his 105 or 108 plays but eight won the highest place. After his death, however, he became the favorite above all other comic poets of his time, and was much read and quoted far into the Christian Era. We are unfortunately obliged to form our opinions of his comedies chiefly from the adaptations of them by Plautus and Terence. According to ancient critics he was distinguished for his wit, the refinement and perfection of his language, and his ingenious plots. Over a thousand fragments of his plays remain and a considerable collection of gnomes attributed to him. The latter collection has, however, suffered greatly from additions. The fragments are best published by Kock, Comicorum Atticum Fragmenta, vol. iii. (Leipzig, 1888). Two leaves of papyrus containing new fragments were published by Nicole, Le laborateur de Ménandre (Basle, 1898), by Grenfell and Hunt (Oxford, 1898).