, one of the most celebrated of the ancient Greek poets, was born at Athens in the year 342 before the Christian aera. He was educated in the school of Theophrastus the peripatetic, Aristotle’s successor, and began to write for the stage at the early age of twenty, when his passions seem to have been no less forward and impetuous than his genius. His attachment to the fair sex, and especially to his mistress Glycera, is upon record, and was vehement in the extreme; several of his epistles to that celebrated courtezan, written in a very ardent style, were collected and made public after his decease; his genius, however, is thought to have been a greater recommendation to Glycera’s favour, than his personal merit, which has not been represented as favourable to his addresses, although he is said to have added the recommendations of luxurious dress and manners. His intrigues, however, are of little importance compared to the fame he acquired as one, if not the principal, of the authors of the comedy, which if it possessed less wit and lire than the | old, was superior to it in delicacy, regularity, and decorum, came nearer to nature,and to what we conceive of the legitimate drama. Among his contemporaries, who wrote upon this reformed plan, were Philemon, Diphilus, Apollodorus, Philippides and Posidippus; and from many fragments which remain, it appears that they were not Only bold declaimers against the vice and immorality of the age they lived in, but that they ventured upon truths and doctrines in religion totally irreconcileable to the popular superstition and idolatries of the heathen world; and therefore, says Cumberland, or rather Bentley, we cannot but admire at the extraordinary toleration of their pagan audiences.

By the lowest account Menander wrote eighty plays; but some authorities more than double them, an improbable number to have been composed by a poet who died at the age of fifty, or very little after; whatever their number, it has been thought that morality, taste, and literature, scarcely ever suffered more irreparably than by the loss of them. A few fragments only remain, which, says Warton, ought “to be as highly prized by the curious, as was the Coan Venus, which Apelles left imperfect and unfinished.Terence is supposed to have copied all his comedies from Menander, except the “Phormio” and “Hecyra;” and therefore from him we are enabled to form some idea of Menander’s manner. His general character we must still take from his contemporaries, or immediate successors; for all that we can deduce from his fragments will not raise him to the high rank to which he belongs* Some of these are excellent morals, and some of a more elevated cast, but the greater part are of a morose, gloomy, and acrimonious character.

We have many testimonies to the admiration in which he was held during his life-time. Pliny informs us that the kings of Egypt and Macedon gave a noble testimony to his fiierit, by sending ambassadors to invite him to their courts, and even fleets to convey him; but that Menander preferred the free enjoyment of his studies to the promised favours of the great. Yet the envy and corruption of his countrymen sometimes denied his merit the justice athome, which it found abroad; for he is said to have won but eight prices, though he wrote at least fourscore, if not, according to some accounts, above an hundred plays. Philemon, aeontemporary and much inferior dramatic poet, by the partiality | the judges, often disappointed him of the prize; which made Menander once say to him, “Tell me fairly, Philemon, if you do not blush when the victory is decreed to you against me” The ancient critics have bestowed the highest praises on Menander, as the true pattern of every beauty and every grace of public speaking. Quintilian declares that a careful imitation of Menander only will enable a writer to comply with all the rules in his Institutions. It is in Menander, that he would have his orator search for copiousness of invention, an elegance of expression, and especially for that universal genius, which is able to accommodate itself to persons, things, and affections. Menander’s wonderful talent at expressing nature in every condition, and under every accident of life, gave occasion to that extraordinary question of Aristophanes the grammarian: “O Menander and Nature, which of you copied your pieces from the other’s work” And Ovid has made choice of the same excellency to support the immortality he has given him:

"Dum fallax servus, durus pater, improba laena,

Vivet dum meretrix blanda, Menander erit."

Menander was drowned in the harbour of Piraeus, in the year 293 B. C. according to some accounts, which make him only forty-nine years of age, but others, as we have noticed, think he was a little above fifty. His tomb, in the time of Pausanias, was to be seen at Athens, in the way from Piraeus to the city, close by the honorary monujnent of Euripides. The fragments and sentences of Menander were first collected by Morel, 153, Paris, and again edited by Henry Stephens, Grotius, &c. but the best edition is that by Le Clerc at Amsterdam, in 1709. To which the “Etnendationes” of Phileleutherus Lipsiensis,“that is, Dr. Bentley, the” Infamia emendationuni,“JLeiden, 1710, by J. Gronovius, and” Philargyrius Cantabrigiensis," by De Pauw, must be considered as indispensable supplements, although it is somewhat difficult to collect the four. 1


Vossius de Poet. Grace. Burman’s preface to Bentley’s Emendationes, &c. See an elegant paper by Warton, No. 105 of the Adventurer and two by Cumberland, i. e Bentley, in the Observer, No. 119, 150. Maty’s Review, vol, IX. p, 295.