from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Epicharmos (ancient Greek Ἐπίχαρμος Epícharmos , Latin Epi'charmus , German also Epi'charm ; * around 540 BC; † around 460 BC) is the main representative of Doric-Sicilian comedy . His place of birth is controversial; according to Aristotle, he comes from the Sicilian Megara Hyblaia , the places Kratos, Samos and Kos are speculative. Medical and science books under his name are fakes. The authorship of the philosophical fragments is disputed.

life and work

The son of Helothales worked under Hieron in Syracuse. Here he took up the Sicilian antics and gave them an artful comedy-like form. His stylistic devices influenced a number of later Sicilian comedy poets up to Sophron from Syracuse. Epicharmos was a listener of Pythagoras who settled in Croton on the southern Italian coast around 532 and founded the Pythagorean League there around 525 .

Epicharmus did not develop his own philosophical teaching, but gave Greek comedy a more profound impulse with philosophical motifs. Plato praised his gnomes , his concise formulations of universally valid thought or sayings in verse or prose . Of the many pieces, seals and gnomes, only a few fragments have survived. One of the best-known sentences made one of the earliest contributions to occidental death philosophy: Emori nolo, sed me esse mortuum nihil aestimo.
I don't want to die, but I don't care about being dead.
(Hermann Diels, The Fragments of the Pre-Socratics, 1957, No. 118)

The freer translation of
dying, yes, that stay away. But I do not mind being dead
shows a cheerful cynicism in the statement of the philosopher. Other traditional sayings include:

A wise man shuns repentance. He thinks about his action beforehand.
Stay sober and don't forget to be suspicious!
Tranquility is a lovable woman and dwells near wisdom.

In the Plato chapter of his work Life and Opinions of Famous Philosophers , Diogenes Laertios tries to prove that Plato started out from Epicharm in essential points of his philosophy (especially the theory of ideas ) (III 12). He also testifies that there was (at least) in his time - in the middle of the 3rd century - a statue of Epicharmos with the inscription:

As the sun with its mighty shine outshines all stars,
As the sea has more power than all rivers unite,
Likewise Epicharmos towers over all in wisdom.
Syracuse, his city, honored him with a wreath.


  • Lucia Rodríguez-Noriega Guillén (Ed.): Epicarmo de Siracusa. Testimonios y Fragmentos. Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo 1996, ISBN 84-7468-935-X (critical edition with Spanish translation; reviewed by Kathryn Bosher in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.10.24 [1] )
  • Rudolf Kassel , Colin Austin (eds.): Poetae Comici Graeci. Vol. 1: Comoedia Dorica, Mimi, Phlyaces. De Gruyter, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-11-016949-5 (reviewed by Jeffrey Rusten in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.12.23 [2] )


  • Rainer Kerkhof : Doric Posse, Epicharm and Attic Comedy (= contributions to antiquity , volume 147). Saur, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-598-77696-9 ( review by Jeffrey Rusten)
  • Bernhard Zimmermann : The extra-Attic comedy. In: Bernhard Zimmermann (Hrsg.): Handbook of the Greek literature of antiquity , Volume 1: The literature of the archaic and classical times . CH Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-57673-7 , pp. 664–670, here: 664–668

Web links


  1. Aristotle, Poetics 1448a30: ἀντιποιοῦνται ... τῆς μὲν γὰρ κωμῳδίας οἱ Μεγαρεῖς ... καὶ οἱ ἐκ Σικε, of course, the ones claiming ... the Megarians ... and the ἐκεῖθς , of course, they claim ... the Megar ... those from Sicily, from where the poet Epicharmos came ...
  2. ^ Felix Jacobi, Fragments of the Greek Historians (FGrH) 84, F13
  3. ^ Georg Kaibel, Comicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (CGF), Testimonia 1 and 4
  4. See CGF I 133-147 and A. Olivieri, Framenti della commedia ... nella Sicilia, I, Napoli 1946, 108-137.
  5. On Epicharm's relationship to the Pythagoreans see Bruno Centrone: Épicharme de Syracuse. In: Richard Goulet (Ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 3, Paris 2000, pp. 102-105.