Meleager of Gadara  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Meleager of Gadara was a poet and collector of epigrams active in the 1st century BCE. The Garland, his original compilation of numerous epigrams from diverse poets, the flower of Hellenization, was the basis for the Greek Anthology.

Like his contemporary Menippus, also a Gadarene, he wrote what were known as spoudogeloia, miscellaneous prose essays putting philosophy in popular form with humorous illustrations, these are completely lost. Meleager's fame is securely founded on the one hundred and thirty-four epigrams of his own which he included in his Anthology. The manuscripts of the Anthology are the sole source of these epigrams.


He was the son of Eucrates, born in the city of Gadara, now Umm Qais in Jordan, which was then a partially Hellenized community in northern Palestine and is identified Ramoth-Gilead of the Old Testament. He was educated in Tyre and spent his later life in Cos where he died at an advanced age. The scholiast to the Palatine manuscript of the Greek Anthology says he flourished in the reign of Seleucus VI Epiphanes (95 – 93 BCE). The uppermost date of his compilation of the Anthology is 60 BCE, as it did not include Philodemus of Gadara, though later editors added thirty-four epigrams.

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