Epitrepontum fragmenta



οὐχ ὁ τρόφιμός σου πρὸς θεῶν, Ὀνήσιμε,   

ὁ νῦν ἔχων τὴν Ἁβρότονον τὴν ψάλτριαν

ἔγημ’ ἔναγχος;



πάνυ μὲν οὖν.   



φιλῶ σ’, Ὀνήσιμε,

καὶ σὺ περίεγρος εἶ.

οὐδέν ἐστι γὰρ

γλυκύτερον ἢ πάντ’ εἰδέναι.



τί δ’ οὐ ποεῖς ἄριστον; ὁ δ’ ἀλύει πάλαι





ἐπὶ τὸ τάριχος ἅλας, ἐὰν οὕτω τύχῃ.



ἀργὸς δ’ ὑγιαίνων τοῦ πυρέττοντος πολύ

ἐστ’ ἀθλιώτερος· μάτην γοῦν ἐσθίει




χαλεπόν, Παμφίλη,

ἐλευθέρᾳ γυναικὶ πρὸς πόρνην μάχη·

πλείονα κακουργεῖ, πλείον’ οἶδ’, αἰσχύνεται

οὐδέν, κολακεύει μᾶλλον.



ἐξετύφην μὲν οὖν

κλαίουσ’ ὅλως



οὐθὲν πέπονθας δεινὸν ἂν μὴ προσποῇ.



ἐλευθέρῳ τὸ καταγελᾶσθαι γὰρ πολὺ

αἴσχιόν ἐστι, τὸ δ’ ὀδυνᾶσθ’ ἀνθρώπινον.


    The term “book fragments” refers to quotations from various ancient writings that quote from the play. Almost always such fragments of Menander are brief snippets like these, sort of popular quotes from various plays. Until the recovery of other parts of scripts on papyrus in the 20th century, almost all of Menander’s plays were known only through such book fragments or through the adaptations of some plays by Plautus and Terence in Latin. These fragments have also been critical in identifying papyri that contain scripts of Menander, as scholars can match these quotations to those found in scattered pages. The following ten fragments, however, do not match any lines in the papyrus remains of epitrepontes and so presumably belong to the missing portions.


    Frag. 1: These lines might be the beginning lines of the play, but at least seem to come from the first act, earlier than the fragments that have been recovered on papyrus. Someone, very likely the cook KARION, is speaking with ONESIMOS about the situation with CHARISIOS and HABROTONON.


    Frag. 2: The source of the next two snippets says that the cook KARION spoke them, and the lines themselves make explicit that he is speaking to ONESIMOS. This is why scholars think that KARION spoke the lines in fragment 1 too.


    Frag. 3: There is no sure evidence of who speaks this line or about whom, but it would fit ONESIMOS talking to KARION about ONESIMOS, so scholars have placed in it early in Act 1.

    ποεῖς = ποιεῖς


    Frag. 4: This fragment is the single word ἐχῖνος, which an ancient lexicographer says Menander used in this play to refer to a type of jar with a wide mouth.


    Frag. 5: There is no sure evidence of who speaks this line or why. The culinary metaphor could mean that the cook KARION is speaking, but it could also just be a colorful proverb.


    Frag. 6: There is no sure evidence of who speaks this line or why. γοῦν: = γε + οὖν


    Frag. 7: The sources of this line do not give the title of the play, but the name PAMPHILE suggests that it could be from Epitrepontes. The sentiment could also fit the conversation between her and SMIKRINES in Act 4, so scholars have often suggested that it comes from the gap in that part of the script.


    Frag. 8: An ancient note on a line in Euripides’ Phoenician Women cites this fragment of the Epitrepontes as an example of the verb τύφεσθαι “to smolder,” to refer to the burning of the eyes from crying so hard. Scholars have often placed it in Act 4 and, since the speaker is female, assigned it to PAMPHILE, but there are other possible speakers (notably HABROTONON) and other places in the play where it could belong. κλαίουσ’: =  κλαίουσα


    Frag. 9: There is no sure evidence of who speaks this line or why.


    Frag. 10: There is no sure evidence of who speaks these lines or why. ὀδυνᾶσθ’: =  ὀδυνᾶσθαι

    Frag. 1

    τροφιμος -α -ον: nourishing


    Frag. 2

    περίεγρος -ον: meddlesome


    Frag. 3

    ἄριστον -ου τό: breakfast

    ἀλύω: to be in distress, fret

    πάλαι: a long time

    κατακεῖμαι: to lie down


    Frag. 5

    ἐπιπάττω ἐπιπάξω ἐπέπασα: to sprinkle

    τάριχος -ους τό: dried (and hence salted) fish

    ἅλας ἅλατος τό: salt


    Frag. 6

    ἀργός -ή -όν: lazy

    ὑγιαίνω: to be healthy  

    πυρέττω: to burn with a fever

    ἄθλιος -α -ον: miserable  

    μάτην: in vain

    ἐσθίω: to eat

    διπλάσιος -ον: double


    Frag. 7

    πόρνη -ης ἡ: prostitute

    κακουργέω: to be mean, be devious

    αἰσχύνομαι: to be ashamed

    κολακεύω: to flatter


    Frag. 8 

    ἐκτύφω ἐκτύψω ἐξετύφην: burn up  

    κλαίω: to cry


    Frag. 9

    προσποέω: to pretend


    Frag. 10

    καταγελάω: to laugh at

    αἴσχιόν: comparative of αἰσχρός -ά -όν; shameful

    ὀδυνάω: to hurt

    ἀνθρώπινος -η -ον: human

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    Suggested Citation

    Marie Plunkett, Menander: Epitrepontes (The Arbitration). Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2022. ISBN: 978-1-947822-19-1. https://dcc.dickinson.edu/menander-epitrepontes/epitrepontum-fragmenta