Menander, an Athenian dramatic poet, born in 342 B. C, died in 291. Alexis, the comic poet, was his paternal uncle, Theophrastus his preceptor, and Epicurus his intimate friend. Little is known of his life. His comedies gained him the patronage of Demetrius Pha-lereus, and of the first Ptolemy, who invited him to his court at Alexandria; this invitation he declined. His intimacy with Demetrius Phalercus involved him in danger alter the expulsion of that statesman from Athens by Demetrius Poliorcetes; and he would have been put to death but for the intercession of Telesphorus, son-in-law of the latter. He is said to have been drowned while swimming in the harbor of Piraeus. The Athenians raised a monument to his memory beside that of Euripides, and placed his statue in the theatre. Menander was the greatest poet of the new comedy, which he purified from the coarseness and buffoonery of the old. His comedies, which were very numerous, maintained their place on the stage for some centuries, and were models for both Greeks and Romans. Of his imitators Terence was the most unscrupulous, his plays being almost entirely translations or aggregations of those of his Hellenic master.
The editio prineeps of the fragments of Menander is that of Morellins (Paris, 1553); the best edition is that of Meineke in his Fragmenta Comi-corum Gmcorvm (Berlin, 1841). - See Benoit, Essai historique et litteraire sur la comedie de Menandre (Paris, 1854), and Guillaume Guizot, Menandre, etude historique et Utteraire (1855).