Menippean Satire

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Menippean Satire


a genre of classical literature. Classical tradition associates the origins of Menippean satire with the work of the cynic philosopher Menippus of Gadara (third century B.C.). Only the titles of his works have been preserved. However, the evidence of his influence in Lucian’s and Varro’s works, about 600 fragments of which have been preserved, has enabled scholars to describe Menippean satire as a combination of verse and prose, philosophy and satire. Motifs of Menippean satire are also found in the works of Seneca the Younger and Petronius.

In Europe, Menippean satire gave rise to a genre characterized by satirical self-expose and self-mockery and exemplified by La Satire Menippee, which was written during the religious wars in 16th-century France. A number of F. M. Dostoevsky’s works, including Bobok, are also representative of this genre.


Pomialovskii, I.Mark Terentsii Varron ReatinskiiiMenippovasatura. St Petersburg, 1869. [Texts, translations, research.]
Istoriia grecheskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1960.
Bakhtin, M. Problemy poetiki Dostoevskogo, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Helm, R. Lucian und Menipp. Leipzig, 1967.


References in periodicals archive ?
16) The verse interludes and inlaid tales are common features of Menippean, also known as Varronian satire.
3) To label a work a Varronian satire seems somewhat exotic, even pedantic, today.
Manley herself, however, identifies a different type of formal tradition for the work when she describes The New Atalantis as a Varronian satire.
Manley's mention of Varronian satire jars with feminist depictions of her work as part of a "female form"; one reading, in order to propose a "distinctly feminocentric model" of influence, dismisses "the invocation of Varro" as "nothing more than an audacious trope.
In England, Dryden had drawn new attention to Varro with his discussion of Varronian satire in the "Discourse concerning the Original and Progress of Satire" (1693), which we will examine later.
The tradition of Varronian satire is remarkable in that its primary textual source was lost: the Varro of the eighteenth century was almost entirely a critical construction.
For Casaubon, Varronian satire was a Roman development, distinct from the work of Menippus.
Dacier repeated many of Casaubon's statements on Varronian satire, but also clarified and condensed certain points:
Though Dacier's writings were familiar, Manley and other early eighteenth-century writers were most likely to have encountered descriptions of Varronian satire in Dryden.
Thus far the elements of Varronian satire emphasized by Dryden and other critics include variety, elegance, wittiness, eloquence, and learnedness, as well as the avoidance of "ridiculous" or "impudent" material.
The more recent works offered by Dryden further clarify his picture of a Varronian satire.
Clearly, Dryden had in mind a much more specific type of work than had Frye or other modern critics, and it is this more specific idea of what constituted Varronian satire that held sway at Manley's time.