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Herodas (Greek: Ἡρώδας), or Herondas (the name is spelt differently in the few places where he is mentioned), was a Greek poet and the author of short humorous dramatic scenes in verse, probably written in Alexandria during the 3rd century BCE.
Apart from the intrinsic merit of these pieces, they are interesting
in the history of Greek literature as being a new species, illustrating
Alexandrian methods. They are called Mimiamboi (Greek: μιμίαμβοι, "Mime-iambics"), or mimes. Mimes were the Dorian product of South Italy and Sicily, and the most famous of them – from which Plato is said to have studied the drawing of character – were the work of Sophron.
These were scenes in popular life, written in the language of the
people, vigorous with sexual proverbs such as we get in other
reflections of that region – in Petronius and the Pentamerone. Two of the best known and the most vital among the Idylls of Theocritus,
the 2nd and the 15th, we know to have been derived from mimes of
Sophron. What Theocritus is doing there, Herodas, his younger
contemporary, is doing in another manner – casting old material into
novel form, upon a small scale, under strict conditions of technique.
The method is entirely Alexandrian: Sophron had written in a peculiar
kind of rhythmical prose; Theocritus uses the hexameter and Doric, Herodas the scazon or "lame" iambic (with a dragging spondee at the end) and the old Ionic dialect
with which that curious metre was associated. That, however, hardly
goes beyond the choice and form of words; the structure of the sentences
is close-knit Attic. Herodas did not write his mimiambics in the contemporary Greek koine of his period. Rather, he affected a quaint style that imitated the Greek spoken in the 6th century BC. (Cunningham 14)
But the grumbling metre and quaint language suit the tone of common
life that Herodas aims at realizing; for, as Theocritus may be called
idealist, Herodas is a realist unflinching. His persons talk in vehement
exclamations and emphatic turns of speech, with proverbs and fixed
phrases; and occasionally, where it is designed as proper to the part,
with the most naked coarseness of expression. The scene of the second
and the fourth is laid at Cos, and the speaking characters in each are never more than three.