, an Athenian comic poet, contemporary with Menander, whose rival he was, and though inferior, was frequently successful against him by means of intrigue or the partiality of friends, was, by the account of Suidas, a Syracusan by birth; but Strabo says that he was born at Solae, in Cilicia. He was some years older than Menander, and in the opinion of Quintilian fairly next to him in merit, though unfit to be preferred to him. Apuleius speaks still more favourably, saying only that he was fortasse impar; and adds, that there are to be found in his dramas “many witty strokes, plots ingeniously disposed, discoveries strikingly brought to light, characters well adapted to their parts, sentiments that accord with human life, jests that do not degrade the sock, and gravity that does not intrench upon the buskin.Philemon, who flourished 274 B.C. lived to the extraordinary age of 101 years, and composed ninety comedies. Menander, indeed, composed more, and in less time, but even this was extraordinary. His longevity was the result of great temperance, and a placid frame of mind. Frugal, to a degree that subjected him to the charge of avarice, he never weakened his faculties or constitution by excess: and he summed up all his wishes in one rational and moderate petition to heaven, which throws a most favourable light upon his character: “I pray for health in the first place; in the next, for success in my undertakings; thirdly, for a cheerful heart; and lastly, to be out of debt to all mankind.A petition which seems to have been granted in all its parts. As he lived in constant serenity oi mind, so he died without pain of body; for, having called together a number of his friends to the reading of a play which he had newly finished, and sitting, as was the custom in that | serene climate, under the open canopy of heaven, an unforeseen fall of ruin broke up the company, just when the old man had g'>t into the third act, in the very wannest interests of his fahle. His hearers, disappointed by this unlucky check to their entertainment, interceded with him for the remainder on the day following, to which he readily assented; and a great company being then assembled, whom the fame of the rehearsal had brought together, they sat a considerable time in expectation of the poet, till wearied out with waiting, and unable to account for his want of punctuality, some of his intimates were dispatched in quest of him, who, having entered his house, and made their way to his chamber, found the old man dead on his couch, in his usual meditating posture, his features placid and composed, and with every symptom that indicated a death without pain or struggle. The fragments of Philemon are in general of a sentimental tender cast; and though they enforce sound and strict morality, yet no one instance occurs of that gloomy misanthropy, that harsh and dogmatizing spirit, which too often marks the maxims of his more illustrious rival. They were collected and published by Grotius, together with those of Menander; the greater part having been preserved by Stobtcns. Several of them, as well as the fragments of the other Greek comic poets, have been translated by Mr. Cumberland in his “Observer,” to which we refer our readers for further information. 1


Vossius de Poet. Græc.—Cumberland’s Observer.