A mock theogony from Cratinus' Chirones seems straightforward and uncomplicated evidence of the jibes of the comic poets against Pericles. The source for this fragment, Plutarch's Life of Pericles, chapter 3, in fact connects it with the usual sallies of the archaia about the shape of Pericles' head. Yet, the fragment equally reflects the presence of contemporary opposition in Periclean Athens against the statesman. Plutarch simply covers the density of its allusion, which is something beyond the comic resource of attacking marked peculiarities of appearance of politically prominent individuals: the Homeric-style hapaxκεΦαληγερέταν alludes to the deformity of Pericles' head but also to his demagogic ability to assemble the masses in the so-called ‘language of the gods’.
Many questions are, however, posed when we attempt to account for the allegories or the analogies the passage establishes. As Hanow wondered back in 1830: verum quidΧρόνος πρεσβυγενήςad Periclem faciat, non reperio; quamquam certam quandam rem a Cratino spectatam arbitror. The main purpose of this paper, therefore, is to examine the fragment afresh, in the hope of showing that the source for the parody of this piece of Cratinus may be traced elsewhere than so far suggested, and that there is good reason for Stasis and Chronus fathering this sinister infant.