Menippus, of Gadara in Coele-Syria, Greek cynic and satirist, lived during the 3rd century BC. According to Diogenes Laërtius (vi. 8) he was originally a slave, amassed a fortune as a money-lender, lost it, and committed suicide through grief.

Menippus, Diego Velázquez, 1639/40

His works (written in a mixture of prose and verse) are all lost. He discussed serious subjects in a spirit of raillery, and especially delighted in attacking the Epicureans and Stoics. His writings exercised considerable influence upon later literature. One of the dialogues attributed to Lucian, his avowed imitator, who frequently mentions him, is called Menippus. But this dialogue is regarded with suspicion, and since the sub-title ("The Oracle of the Dead") resembles that of a work ascribed to Menippus by Diogenes Laërtius, it has been suggested that it is really the work of Menippus himself, or at any rate imitated from his Necromancy by the author, whether Lucian. or another. It is well known that the Menippean satires of M. Terentius Varro, the fragments of which give an idea of this kind of composition, were called after Menippus of Gadara (see Teuffel-Schwabe, Hist. of Roman Literature, § 165, 3).


This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

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