20 JANUARY 1900, Page 25

Select Fragments of the Greek Comic Poets. Edited by A.

W. Pickard-Cambridge. (Clareneon Press. 5s.)—By " Comic Poets" the editor means the writers of G reek comedy, a very numerous class, reaching over a period of nearly three centuries, from Susarion, whose floruit is put down at 570 B.C., to Euphron, who belonged to the first half of the third century. The chief source of these fragments, which number about five hundred in all, is, of course, Athenaeus. From him we get nearly a half of the total. As he tells us that he had read eight hundred plays of the Middle Comedy alone—and the Middle is the least numerously represented of the three—this is not to be wondered at. Next to him comes Stobsous, from whose F/ori/egium and Eclogae we get about a third. Plutarch, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Diogenes Laertius are the most noticeable of the other contributors. Of the hundred and two Menander fragments by far the most important is an Egyptian discovery, the r*edirydr. Five fragments of the drama were already known, containing about twenty-four lines. Eighty-seven more are now added (though a few are imperfect), and we can now form a very fair idea of what the play was like. Our only complaint against the editor concerns the scantiness of his notes. This was probably inevitable, for the volume had to be brought within moderate compass, the public for such editions, in this country at least, being very small. The range of ideas in Greek comedy is, as we all know, very limited. Susarion strikes one of the dominant notes in the very first extract :— " marcbv yvvaleces• &AX acer 4 5naorai oioc *VW OlKeiV °haat, 6VEV tratcoik,

Ka) yap re yilpal ,cal tecucdp,"—

a sentiment curiously like the famous utterance of the Roman Senator. Epicharmus follows suit with the remark that to get a good wife was as great a piece of luck as to throw treble sixes, while he who had a bad one had, not a wife, but lieextay tcocrpougbav. Here is another piece of proverbial sarcasm,- 4p la4wo vAcryels •Itie:ve,v. The book is intended for candidates for Honour Moderations, but other readers, who have kept some of their Greek, will find plenty of entertainment in it.