Overview

parasite


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A stock character of Greek and Roman comedy. At first called kolax (‘toady’, ‘flatterer’, as in Eupolis' Kolakes of 421 bc, named after its chorus), the type acquired as a joke in the 4th cent. the alternative label parasitos or ‘sponger’ (in origin a ‘fellow diner’, esp. denoting certain religious functionaries). Thereafter the two terms were largely interchangeable. Parasites attach themselves to their social superiors for their own advantage, esp. for free meals; in return they flatter or entertain their patron, run errands, and suffer much ill‐treatment. Sometimes the patron is a vainglorious soldier, and soldier and parasite made a stock pair.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.