Menippean Satire

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
At a minimum, "Last Night" resonates with both edenic and apocalyptic biblical motifs, contains obvious elements of science fiction, employs satire, some of which has affinities with Menippean satire, and partakes of the utopian tradition but on the dystopian side of it.
Forms explored include vituperative exchange, "alewife" poems, allegory, Juvenalian and Menippean satire, elegy, epitaph, and household ordinances; the traditions of Chaucerian and post-Chaucerian verse are also usefully mined.
Antonius is a Menippean satire named for the recently deceased Antonio Beccadelli; in it his friends revisit favorite topics that they had enjoyed discussing with him.
Such ambiguities are present in Hoffmann's Menippean satire, and in the title role, Stefano Secco had the acting ability to embody all it's different facets.
Reading The Third Policeman as a text displaying the failure of language and human perception/reason found its expression in the current analyses of the novel within the tradition of Menippean satire. Noman is described as a "godless Cartesian" led by a belief in a reality that is ultimately graspable and decipherable by his perception.
His study of the prosimetric fiction that Varro Reatinus and Lucian of Samosata nominated as Menippean satire, and which Frye anglicizes as "anatomy" after Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, changed the discourse permanently, and much for the better.
Boyarin ultimately singles out Menippean satire as the most important genre with which to understand both the Talmud and Plato, pointing out their seriocomic peculiarity.
Yet, regarding the genre of Satire in a strict sense, recent publications have demonstrated the significant presence of Roman verse satire and Menippean Satire in the Metamorphoses and the Noctes Atticae.
Vows To Defeat Whoever It Is We're At War With" and "American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie." However, perhaps because of its relative notoriety and popularity, The Onion also ran less inflammatory headlines in the same issue, including "Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell" and "God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule." Such headlines displayed, in Bakhtinian terms, an ideological conflict between Menippean satire's interest in presenting the instability of contemporary reality and the authorities' interest in presenting idealized moral absolutes; the latter offer a sense of solace, while the former demands uncomfortable critical thinking.
Emphasizing its links with Menippean satire, I read the lunar episode as