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Headword: Karkinos
Adler number: kappa,396
Translated headword: Carcinus, Karkinos
Vetting Status: high
An Attic poet. Someone is mocking Carcinus’ sons[1] thus: "homebred quails, kitbag-gulleted dancers, dwarfish, bits of dung, inventers of artifices."[2] "For their father said that, one evening, a weasel had strangled [the drama which he unexpectedly possessed]."[3] He calls them quails because of their combativeness; for that [is] what quails are like. [And he calls them] "homebred" instead of effeminate, as if one were to say homebred birds. And “kitbag-gulleted”, that is long-necked; for a soldier's kitbag is an [item of] elongated wickerwork. So [it is] likely that their whole body was short but their neck long, or that they did not have a gullet, just like the kitbag; so he is mocking them for having small and round bodies. They also used to dance for their father. “Dwarfish” because very short people are called dwarfs; while very short horses [are called] naggies. And “dancers”; because their father introduced them as dancers in his dramas. And “bits of dung” instead of small and insignificant. “Dung” is the turd of goats and sheep, and the dung has the size of a broad bean. So he likens them to those, or rather not even to those, but to their bits and pieces. He humiliates them for being short. Because a part of something small is small itself or even less than small. And “inventers of artifices” from a part; because Xenocles,[4] the son of Carcinus, is supposed to have introduced devices and juggleries in his dramas; Plato calls him “twelve-machine”.[5] Or because as tragic poets they brought in machines, whenever they represented gods ascending to or descending from heaven. Their father composed a drama entitled Mice. “Unexpectedly”, that is to say with hard work.[6] And he says that “a weasel had strangled”, because weasels choke mice at night.
Greek Original:
Karkinos, poiêtês Attikos. skôptei de tis Karkinou paidas houtôs: ortugas oikogeneis, guliauchenas orchêstas, nannophueis, sphuradôn apoknismata, mêchanodiphas. kai gar ephasch' ho patêr galên tês hesperas apanxai. legei de ortugas men dia to eristikon: toioutoi gar hoi ortuges. oikogeneis de anti tou eskiatraphêmenous, hôs an eipois ornithas oikogeneis. guliauchenas de, toutesti makrotrachêlous: gulios gar stratiôtikon esti plegma epimêkes. kolobon oun eikos einai autois to holon sôma, ton de trachêlon makron, ê auchenas ouk echontas, kathaper ho gulios: hôs mikrous oun kai gongulôdeis skôptei. echoreuon de houtoi tôi patri. nannophueis de hoti nannoi legontai hoi koloboi tôn anthrôpôn: hoi de koloboi tôn hippôn innoi. orchêstas de: eisephere gar autous ho patêr en tois dramasin orchoumenous. sphuradôn de apoknismata, anti tou tapeinous kai mikrous. sphurades de eisi ta tôn aigôn kai probatôn apopatêmata, hê de sphuras kuamou echei to megethos. tautais oun apeikazei autous, mallon de oude tautais, alla tois apoknismasin autôn kai apotmêmasin. eutelizei oun autous dia to brachu. hê gar tou mikrou meris mikra ê ouden an eiê. mêchanodiphas de apo merous: Xenoklês gar ho Karkinou dokei mêchanas kai terateias eisagein en tois dramasin: hon Platôn dôdekamêchanon phêsin. ê epeidê pollakis hôs tragôidoi mêchanika eisepheron, hênika theous emimounto anerchomenous ê katerchomenous ek tou ouranou. ho patêr de drama epoiêse Muas. para prosdokian, toutesti meta mochthou. galên de eipen apanxai, dioti hai galai nuktos pnigousi tous muas.
This entry is a commentary on Aristophanes, Peace 788-795, quoting the verses and then drawing on the corresponding scholia. See also alpha 2802, gamma 475, gamma 476, epsilon 3402, iota 385, nu 26, sigma 1208, sigma 1762; also epsilon 1147; and see below for modern scholarship on Carcinus and his sons.
Two more tragic poets by the name of Carcinus appear in kappa 394; cf. kappa 397.
[1] Xenocles, Xenotimus and Demotimus.
[2] Aristophanes, Peace 788-791 (web address 1).
[3] An abridged version of Aristophanes, Peace 792-795 (web address 2), according to which, as it is clarified at the end of the entry, a weasel is supposed to have strangled Mice, a drama written by Carcinus.
[4] On Xenocles, see also Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazousae 169, 441 (web addresses 3, 4), Frogs 86 (web address 5) and the corresponding scholia; also the scholia to Clouds 1261; Xenocles’ extant fragments in Snell, p. 153.
[5] Plato [Comicus] fr.143 K-A (134 Kock).
[6] Repeated at pi 422.
Borthwick, E.K., “The Dances of Philocleon and the Sons of Carcinus in Aristophanes’ Wasps”, CQ n.s. 18 (1968) 44-51
Olson, S.D., “Was Carcinus I a Tragic Playwright?: A Response”, CPh 92 (1997) 258-260
Rothwell, K.S. Jr., “Was Carcinus I a Tragic Playwright?”, CPh 89 (1994) 241-245
Snell, B., Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, vol. 1, Göttingen 1971
Sutton, D.F., “The Theatrical Families of Athens”, AJP 108 (1987) 9-26
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5
Keywords: biography; comedy; geography; imagery; medicine; military affairs; poetry; stagecraft; trade and manufacture; tragedy; zoology
Translated by: Ioannis Doukas on 11 August 2007@17:45:01.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (added alternative headword spelling, other cosmetics) on 11 August 2007@22:11:36.
David Whitehead (tweaks to tr; more x-refs; more keywords) on 12 August 2007@05:08:44.
Catharine Roth (typo) on 12 August 2007@12:11:08.
David Whitehead on 28 January 2013@04:56:21.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note) on 13 April 2019@01:24:12.
Catharine Roth (cross-reference) on 27 May 2021@01:07:05.


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