Sentences Of Menandros

SENTENCES OF MENANDROS

A group of proverbial sayings written down at an unknown date (perhaps first century A.D.), probably to be attributed to the great comic poet Menandros. It seems to have enjoyed a fair popularity, comparable to that of similar collections (gnomologies) that were widespread in late antiquity; like these it seems to have been subjected to frequent manipulations.

The original redaction, now lost, was in Greek; it is not easy, therefore, to form a precise idea of the original content. It seems that the main components were the imitation of various verses actually by Menandros, the influence of biblical literature, and a group of sayings on the usefulness of learning to read and to write. This last component indicates that the text was produced and preserved in scholastic circles. However, the first author, who made an effort at in iambic trimeters, totally lacked concepts of prosody and classical metrical rules.

The complete Syriac translation (ed. Land, 1975, Vol. 1, pp. 64-73) and a Slavonic translation are extant, as well as a number of fragments in a and Coptic bilingual version (ed. Hagedorn and Weber, 1968). It is clear that the Sentences of Menandros, which had been used for practice in circles, were also used later in Coptic circles, probably for learning to write in Coptic and for learning rudimentary notions of Greek.

  • Baumstark, A. der syrischen Literatur; mit Ausschluss der christlich-palestinischen Texte. Bonn, 1922.
  • Hagedorn, D., and M. Weber, eds. “Die griechisch-koptische Rezension der Menandersentenzen.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 3 (1968):15-50.
  • Land, J. P. N. Anecdota syriaca. Leiden, 1875. Repr. Jerusalem, 1975.