Crates (comic poet)

Crates (Greek: Κράτης) was an Athenian Old Comic poet, who was victorious three times at the City Dionysia, first probably in the late 450s or very early 440s BCE (IG II2 2325. 52; just before Callias and Teleclides); a scholium on Aristophanes Knights 537 (test. 3. 2) reports that he was originally one of Cratinus' actors. Aristophanes at Knights 537–40 (424 BCE) refers to him as an important representative of the previous generation, and according to Aristotle in the Poetics (test. 5) the influence of the Sicilian comic poets made him the first Athenian comic poet to abandon the ‘iambic’ style and produce plays with a connected storyline. The Suda (test. 1. 1) reports that his brother was an epic poet named Epilycus (otherwise unknown).

Surviving works

60 fragments (including four dubia) of Crates’ comedies survive, along with ten titles:

  • Geitones ("Neighbours")
  • Heroes ("The Heroes")
  • Theria ("Wild Beasts")
  • Lamia ("Lamia")
  • Metoikoi ("Metics" or "Resident Aliens")
  • Paidiai ("Games")
  • Pedetai ("Men In Shackles")
  • Rhetores ("Orators")
  • Samioi ("The Samians")
  • Tolmai ("Daring Deeds")

Whether he is to be identified with Crates II, another comic poet to whom the Suda (test. 1) assigns three titles, Thesauros ("Treasure"), Ornithes ("Birds"), and Philargyros ("The Man Who Loved Money"), the first and last of which seem more appropriate for ‘Middle Comedy’, is unclear. The standard collection of the fragments is Kassel-Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci IV ; Kock numbers are now outdated and should not be used.

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