The greatest writer of Greek comedy. He lived at Athens, B.C. 444-388. His father, Philippus, is said to have been not a native Athenian, but a settler from Rhodes or Egypt, who afterwards acquired citizenship. However this may be, the demagogue Cleon, whose displeasure Aristophanes had incurred, tried to call in question his right to the citizenship. His first comedy appeared in B.C. 427, but was not performed under his own name because of his youth; and several more of his plays were brought upon the stage by Callistratus and Philonides, till in 424 he brought out The Knights in his own person. Forty-four of his plays were known to antiquity, though four of them were considered doubtful. Of these we possess eleven, the only complete Greek comedies which have survived, besides the titles and numerous fragments of twenty-six others. The eleven are:
* 1. The Acharnians (Ἀχαρνεῖς), which gained him the victory over Cratinus and Eupolis, B.C. 425, written during the great Peloponnesian War to induce the Athenians to make peace.
* 2. The Knights (Ἱππεῖς) mentioned above, B.C. 424, also crowned with the first prize, and aimed directly against the demagogue Cleon.
* 3. The Clouds (Νεφέλαι), B.C. 423, his most famous and, in his own opinion, his most successful piece, though when played it only won the third prize. We have it now in a second, and apparently unfinished, edition. It is directed against the pernicious influence of the Sophists, as the representative of whom Socrates is attacked.
* 4. The Wasps (Σφῆκες), brought out in B.C. 422, and, like the two following, rewarded with the second prize; it is a satire upon the Athenian passion for lawsuits.
* 5. The Peace (Εἰρήνη), of the year B.C. 421, recommending the conclusion of peace.
* 6. The Birds (Ὄρνιθες), acted in B.C. 414, and exposing the romantic hopes built on the expedition to Sicily. This is unquestionably the happiest production of the poet's genius, and is marked by a careful reserve in the employment of dramatic resource.
* 7. The Lysistraté (Λυσιστράτη), B.C. 411, a Women's Conspiracy to bring about peace; the last of the strictly political plays.
* 8. Thesmophoriazusae (Θεσμοφοριάζουσαι), probably to be dated B.C. 410. It is written against Euripides's dislike of women, for which the women who are celebrating the Thesmophoria drag him to justice.
* 9. The Frogs (Βάτραχοι), which was acted in B.C. 405, and won the first prize. It is a piece sparkling with genius, on the decay of tragic art, the blame of which is laid on Euripides, then recently deceased.
* 10. Ecclesiazusae (Ἐκκλησιάζουσαι), or The National Assembly of Women, B.C. 392. It is levelled against the vain attempts to restore the Athenian state by cut-and-dried constitutions.
* 11. Plutus (Πλοῦτος), or The God of Wealth. The blind god is restored to sight, and better times are brought about. This play was acted first in B.C. 408, then in 388 in a revised form suitable to the time, and dispensing with chorus and parabasis. This play marks the transition to the Middle Comedy. See Comoedia.
In the opinion of the ancients, Aristophanes holds a middle place between Cratinus and Eupolis, being neither so rough as the former nor so mild as the latter, but combining the severity of the one with the grace of the other. What was thought of him in his own time is evident from Plato's Symposium, where he is numbered among the noblest of men; and an epigram attributed to that philosopher says that the Graces, looking for an enduring shrine, found it in the soul of Aristophanes. He unites understanding, feeling, and fancy in a degree possessed by few poets of antiquity. His keen glance penetrates the many evils of his time and their most hidden causes; his scorn for all that is base, and his patriotic spirit, burning to bring back the grand days of Marathon, urge him on, without respect of persons or regard for self, to drag the faults he sees into daylight, and lash them with stinging sarcasm; while his inexhaustible fancy invents ever new and original materials, which he manipulates with perfect mastery of language and technical skill. If his jokes are often coarse and actually indecent, the fact must be imputed to the character of the Old Comedy and the licentiousness of the Dionysiac festival, during which the plays were acted. No literature has anything to compare with these comedies. Ancient scholars, recognizing their great importance, bestowed infinite pains in commenting on them, and valuable relics of their writings are enshrined in the existing collections of scholia.
The principal MS. of Aristophanes is that of Ravenna, which contains the eleven extant plays. Next in importance is the Codex Venetus Marcianus of nearly the same date, but which lacks the Acharnians, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, and Lysistraté. Both of these are probably derived from one Alexandrian archetype. The editio princeps of Aristophanes is that of Aldus (Venice, 1498), containing nine plays, to which Junta added two more (1515). The ed. of Invernizzi-Beck contains a collation of the Ravenna MS. Other editions are those of Bekker (1829); Dindorf (5th ed. 1869); Meineke (1860); Blaydes (1886); Holden (5th ed. 1887). Eng. trans. of eight plays by Rudd (1867); of five plays by Frere (1871). There is a complete concordance by Dunbar (1883).
Nu-me'ri-an, [Lat. Numeria'nus; Fr. Numeriex,
nu'mS're4,N',| (Marcus Aurelius,) son of Cams, succeeded
him as Emperor of Rome in 284 A.D., in conjunction
with his brother Carinus. He was afterwards put
to death in the same year, as is supposed, by his fatherin-
law, Arrius, and Diocletian was chosen emperor.
Numerianus was famed as an orator and a poet. His
character is said to have been excellent.
Marcus Aurelius Numerius Numerianus (d. November, 284), known in English as Numerian, was a Roman Emperor (December 283 –
November, 284), together with his brother Carinus. They were sons of Carus, a Gaul raised to the office of praetorian prefect
under Emperor Probus in 282.
In 282, the legions of the upper Danube in Raetia and Noricum proclaimed Numerian's father, the praetorian prefect Marcus Aurelius
Carus, emperor, beginning a rebellion against the emperor Probus. Probus' army, stationed in Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica,
Serbia), decided they did not wish to fight Carus, and assassinated Probus instead. Carus, already sixty, wished to establish a
dynasty; and immediately elevated Carinus and Numerian to the rank of Caesar.
In 283, Carus raised Carinus to the title Caesar, left him in charge of the West, and moved with Numerian and his praetorian
prefect Arrius Aper to the East, to wage war against the Sassanid Empire. (The Sassanids had been embroiled in a succession
dispute since the death of Shapur, and were in no position to oppose Carus' advance.) According to Zonaras, Eutropius, and
Festus, Carus won a major victory against the Persians, taking Seleucia and the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon (near modern Al-
Mada'in, Iraq), cities on opposite banks of the Tigris. In celebration, Numerian, Carus, and Carinus all took the title Persici
maximi. Carus died in July or early August, reportedly due to a strike of lightning.
Carus' death left Numerian and Carinus as the new Augusti. Carinus quickly made his way to Rome from Gaul, and arrived in January
284. Numerian lingered in the East. The Roman retreat from Persia was orderly and unopposed, for the Persian King, Bahram II,
was still struggling to establish his authority. By March 284 Numerian had only reached Emesa (Homs) in Syria; by November,
only Asia Minor. In Emesa he was apparently still alive and in good health, as he issued the only extant rescript in his name
there. (Coins are issued in his name in Cyzicus at some time before the end of 284, but it is impossible to know whether he
was still in the public eye by that point.) After Emesa, Numerian's staff, including the prefect Aper, reported that Numerian
suffered from an inflammation of the eyes, and had to travel in a closed coach. When the army reached Bithynia, some of
Numerian's soldiers smelled an odor reminiscent of a decaying corpse emanating from the coach. They opened its curtains.
Inside, they found Numerian, dead.
Aper officially broke the news in Nicomedia (İzmit) in November. Numerian's generals and tribunes called a council for the
succession, and chose Diocles, commander of the cavalry arm of the imperial bodyguard, emperor, in spite of Aper's
attempts to garner support. On November 20, 284, the army of the east gathered on a hill 5 km (3.1 mi) outside Nicomedia. The
army unanimously saluted their new Augustus, and Diocles accepted the purple imperial vestments. He raised his sword to the light
of the sun, and swore an oath denying responsibility for Numerian's death. He asserted that Aper had killed Numerian and concealed
it. In full view of the army, Diocles drew his blade and killed Aper.
According to Historia Augusta, Numerian was a man of considerable literary attainments, remarkably amiable and known as a great
orator and poet. However, no other sources, apart from the unreliable Historia, report anything about his personality.
Marcus Aurelius. A Roman who succeeded to the imperial throne conjointly with his elder brother Carinus, after the death of their father Carus, at the
beginning of A.D. 284. Numerianus was with the army in Mesopotamia at the death of Probus; but, instead of following up the advantage which his father had
gained over the Persians, he was compelled by the army to abandon the conquests which had been already made, and to retreat to Syria. During the retreat,
a weakness of the eyes obliged him to confine himself to a litter, which was guarded by the praetorians. The administration of all affairs, civil as well
as military, devolved on Arrius Aper, the praetorian prefect, his father-in-law. The army was eight months on its march from the banks of the Tigris to
the Thracian Bosporus, and during all that time the imperial authority was exercised in the name of the emperor, who never appeared to his soldiers.
Reports at length spread among them that their emperor was no longer living; and when they had reached the city of Chalcedon they could not be prevented
from breaking into the imperial tent, where they found only his corpse. Suspicion naturally fell upon Arrius; and an assembly of the army was accordingly
held, for the purpose of avenging the death of Numerianus and electing a new emperor. Their choice fell upon Diocletian, who, immediately after his
election, put Arrius to death with his own hands, without giving him an opportunity of justifying himself, which might, perhaps, have proved dangerous to
the new emperor. The virtues of Numerianus are mentioned by most of his biographers. His manners were mild and affable; and he was celebrated among his
contemporaries for eloquence and poetic talent. The Senate voted him a statue, with the inscription, "To Numerianus Caesar, the most powerful orator of
his times" (Vopisc. Numerian.; Aurel. Vict. De Caes. 38; Eutrop. ix. 12).