Hipponax (Ancient Greek: Ἱππῶναξ), of Ephesus and later Clazomenae, was an Ancient Greek iambic poet who composed verses depicting the vulgar side of life in Ionian society in the sixth century BC. He was celebrated by ancient authors for his malicious wit (especially for his attacks on some contemporary sculptors, Bupalus and Athenis), and he was reputed to be physically deformed (a reputation that might have been inspired by the nature of his poetry). Little of his work survives despite its interest to Alexandrian scholars, who collected it in two or three books. He influenced Alexandrian poets searching for alternative styles and uses of language, such as Callimachus and Herodas, and his colourful reputation as an acerbic, social critic also made him a popular subject for verse, as in this epigram by Theocritus:
- Here lies the poet Hipponax. If you are a scoundrel, do not approach the tomb; but if you are honest and from worthy stock, sit down in confidence and, if you like, fall asleep.
Ancient literary critics credited him with inventing literary parody and "lame" poetic meters suitable for vigorous abuse, as well as with influencing comic dramatists such as Aristophanes. His witty, abusive style appears for example in this quote by Herodian, who however was mainly interested in its linguistic aspects (many of the extant verses were preserved for us by lexicographers and grammarians interested in rare words):
- τίς ὸμφαλητόμος σε τὸν διοπλῆγα
- ἔψησε κἀπέλουσεν ἀσκαρίζοντα;
- What navel-snipper wiped and washed you as you squirmed about, you crack-brained creature?
where 'navel-snipper' signifies a midwife.