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Eupolis ( Greek Εὔπολις ; * around 446 BC; † probably 411 BC) was an ancient Greek comedy poet of the 5th century BC. Besides Aristophanes and Kratinos, he is one of the main representatives of Attic Old Comedy.


Little is known for sure about the life of Eupolis. Most of the testimonies come from later sources and are strongly anecdotal. Its first performance took place in 430/429 BC. Instead of. The Suda claims that he was 17 years old at the time, but this account is uncertain and can also be found on his colleague Aristophanes . In Cicero's letters to Atticus, citing the historian Duris of Samos (4th century BC), it is said that the Athenian strategist Alkibiades met the poet Eupolis in 415 BC. Chr. Drowned on his expedition to Sicily - a reflex to mock Alcibiades in Eupolis' piece Βάπται - but with the note that Eratosthenes had already discarded this anecdote for chronological reasons. Eupolis brought his last piece in 412 BC. On the stage, after that there is no trace of his work. The Suda claims that he lived in 411 BC. Was drowned in a sea battle between Athens and Sparta (the Battle of Kynossema ) in the Hellespont, but there is hardly any evidence for this version either. After all, the name Eupolis can be found on the memorial to the fallen of a sea battle. The tomb of Eupolis is moved to the island of Aegina ; this legend is probably a transmission from similar traditions for Aristophanes. The travel writer Pausanias reports, however, from a grave in Sikyon .


Eupolis wrote in his short period of activity (430 / 429–412 BC) 14 pieces that are only preserved in fragments ( Poetae Comici Graeci , Volume V lists 494 fragments). His plays dealt with Athenian politics and contained biting satire against various politicians and other public figures, as was customary in the old comedy. He was an extremely successful playwright: of his 14 plays, seven won.

His probably oldest piece, the Προσπάλτιοι (named after the inhabitants of an Attic demo), dealt with the politics of Pericles . 427 BC The Ταξίαρχοι ("The Sub-generals ") followed, in which the god Dionysus was recruited by the strategist Phormion and got to know the hardship of camp life. His piece Ἀστράτευτοι ("The Slackers ") probably belongs to the first years of the Peloponnesian War . At the lenes of the year 425 BC Eupolis took part without any particular success: His Νουμηνίαι ("New Moon Festival ") were honored with the third prize behind the Acharnern of Aristophanes and the Χειμαζόμενοι ("The wintering ones") of the Kratinos. Next year Eupolis took the piece Χρυσοῦν γένος ( "The Golden Age ") at the Dionysia in part, and mocked the victorious general Kleon , which (probably in for a magnificent victory battle of sphacteria leaves) blinded by numerous honors and all peace overtures the Spartans blows to the wind. Shortly after this piece, the Αἶγες (“The Goats”) must have been performed, which - like Aristophanes' birds ten years later - targeted contemporary culture, especially music. Presumably the choir performed in goat costumes.

422 BC With the führteλεις, Eupolis performed its counterpart to Aristophanes' Babylonians and criticized the relationship of Athens to its allies, who appeared as a choir through individual female representatives. The Μαρικᾶς at the Lena Mountains 421 BC. BC was a reaction to the knights of Aristophanes. Like Cleon in the knights, his successor Hyperbolus was caricatured in the Μαρικᾶς as a slave of barbaric origin, who picked up his education in barber shops. At the Dionysia of the same year, Eupolis won with the Κόλακες ("The Flatterers") over the peace of Aristophanes: It represented a banquet in the house of the rich Callias , at which the famous Sophists (including Socrates ) literally eat the hair off the host's head. The content of the Αὐτόλυκος , of which there were two versions, is unknown. The title figure of 420 BC Chr. Listed drama is a lover of Callias.

The Βάπται ("The Dyers") were born around the year 416 BC. And represent the cult of Kotyto satirically. Because of their attack on Alkibiades, the Suda tells the above-mentioned legend that Alcibiades drowned Eupolis in the sea. The last and perhaps most important piece of Eupolis, the Δῆμοι ("The Demes"), takes place against the background of Athens' devastating defeat after the unsuccessful expedition to Sicily . The poet resurrects four great statesmen of the past, Solon , Miltiades , Aristeides and Pericles, who appear as judges of the present. Numerous fragments of this piece have survived.

Both the time and the content of the piece Φίλοι (in which Aspasia appears as a character) are unknown. There are also three other track titles known that are now and then ascribed to Eupolis, but for various reasons cannot be accepted as authentic.

Relationship with Aristophanes

The relationship between Eupolis and Aristophanes was initially amicable: So he worked in 424 BC. At its knights with. In the following years, however, Aristophanes repeatedly accused his older colleague of plagiarism: In Walther Kraus' view, this was not wrong, because Eupolis had drawn from the knights and the Babylonians for his pieces . Natalia Kyriakidi counters this view that Eupolis was more successful on stage than Aristophanes and that the plagiarism allegation stems only from allegations of Aristophanes. In addition, the satirical imitation is typical of the genre of comedy.

A political contradiction between Aristophanes and Eupolis seems to have consisted in the fact that Eupolis showed more understanding of the necessity of war than his younger colleague, at least up to his middle creative phase.


In Tom Holt's satirical novels "The Goat Choir" and "The Garden Behind the Wall", Eupolis is both narrator and protagonist.


  • Heinz-Günther Nesselrath : Eupolis and the periodization of Attic Comedy , in: D. Harvey / J. Wilkins (Ed.): The Rivals of Aristophanes. Studies in Athenian Old Comedy , London 2000, pp. 233–246.
  • Ian Storey: Eupolis, Poet of Old Comedy , Oxford 2003, ISBN 0-19-925992-5
  • Bernhard Zimmermann : The Greek Comedy . Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-938032-10-7 , pp. 161-163
  • Natalia Kyriakidi: Aristophanes and Eupolis: To the history of a poetic rivalry , Berlin / New York 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-019139-4
  • Bernhard Zimmermann: Eupolis . 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. 741-749

Web links

Wikisource: Εύπολις  - sources and full texts (Greek)