Crates of Athens Analysis

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(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Crates (KRAYT-eez) of Athens acted and wrote comedies in Athens in the middle of the fifth century b.c.e., but nothing is known of his life outside his career. He acted in the plays of Cratinus before producing his own plays. As a playwright, he won in the dramatic competition of the Great Dionysia at least three times. The titles of seven of his plays are known: Geitones (Neighbors), Heroes, Lamia (Goblin), Paidiai (Games), Theria (Animals), Samioi (Samians), and Tolmai (Courage). Exact dates for the plays are not known; all were translated into English in 1931. None of his plays survives complete. About sixty fragments are known, none longer than ten lines. Animals has the most interesting remains. Fragments refer to a utopia in which furniture and utensils work by themselves and to talking animals who urge humans not to eat meat.


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

In De poetica (c. 335-323 b.c.e.; Poetics, 1705), Aristotle says Crates was the first Athenian to abandon personal abuse in his comedies and instead create plots and stories of universal interest. Crates is also said to have introduced drunken characters to the stage. In Hippīs (424 b.c.e.; The Knights, 1812), Aristophanes refers to him approvingly as a predecessor.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Kassel, R., and C. Austin. Poetae Comici Graeci. Vol. 4. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1983.

Norwood, Gilbert. Greek Comedy. London: Methuen, 1931.