, an ancient comic poet, frequently mentioned by Quhuilian, Horace, and Persius, along with Eupolis and Aristophanes, as the great masters of what we call the ancient comedy, flourished in the 81st olympiad, about twenty or thirty years before Aristophanes. He was un Athenian, and appears to have spent his long life in his native city; where, if he did not invent comedy, he was at least the first who brought it into some form and method, and made it fit for the entertainment of a civilized audience, although it still retained many marks of its rude original. Persons and vices were exposed in barefaced satire, and the chief magistrates of the commonwealth ridiculed by name upon the stage. We find in Plutarch’s life of Pericles several passages out of Cratinus’s plays, where he reflected boldly on that great general. Cratinus appears to have been an excessive drinker, for which he offered the excuse that it was absolutely necessary to warm his fancy, and Horace quotes his authority to shew what short-lived things the offspring of water poets commonly prove. For the same reason, Aristophanes, in his “Irene,” attributes the death of Cratinus to the shock he received at the sight of a noble cask of wine split in pieces and washing the streets. The time of it is preserved in the same jest of Aristophanes, and referred to the year in which the Lacedaemonians first invested Athens; namely, in the 37th olympiad, or B. C. 431. Suidas tells us, that be wrote twenty-one plays, none of which are extant, and | he gives only this short description of his excellencies, that he was “splendid and animated in his characters.1


Voss. de Poet. Graec. Fabric. Bibl. Graec. —Saxii Onomast.