10. A Literally Lethal Diss
Bupalus’ adversary, Hipponax of Ephesus, was a poet. However, he was not a high-brow type like Homer or Hesiod, or a gentle soul who penned pretty verses about summer idylls in rolling meadows, as gentle lambs frolicked about. Instead, his bread and butter seem to have been acerbic lines such as “There are two days when a woman is a pleasure: the day one marries her and the day one carries out her dead body“, and diss poetry. In addition to an ugly personality, Hipponax had a gargoyle face to match. The beef started when Hipponax sought to marry Bupalus’ daughter, only for her father to reject him.
That probably spared the girl from a life with somebody who was, by all reports, as ugly on the inside as he was on the outside. Bupalus then rubbed salt in the wound, and caricatured the unsightly Hipponax in some of his sculptures. Hipponax responded with rhymes that accused Bupalus of being a literal motherfu*ker, and went into graphic details about the carnal acts that the sculptor supposedly engaged in with his mother. Bupalus was subjected to intense public mockery as a result, and unable to stand it, he hanged himself. His fate became a byword among the Greeks, as illustrated by a line from ancient Athenian comic playwright Aristophanes: “Someone ought to give them a Bupalus or two on the jaw—that might shut them up for a bit“.