Nicophon, Testimonia and Fragments

LCL 514: 400-401

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The Poets of Old Comedy


1 Σ Aristophanes Birds 82

ἅπερ ἐσθίει ταυτὶ τὰ πονήρ᾿ ὀρνίθια, σέρφους ἴσως, σκώληκας, ἀκρίδας, πάρνοπας.

2 Σ Aristophanes Birds 1283

οὐκ ἐς κόρακας τὼ χεῖρ᾿ ἀποίσεις ἐκποδὼν ἀπὸ τοῦ σκυταλίου < > καὶ τῆς διφθέρας;

3 Suda α 3750

ἆρ᾿ ἀράχνιόν τι φαίνετ᾿ ἐμπεφυκέναι;

5 P. Oxy. 3710

ἐὰν τρέχῃς α[ ]ας βλέψεις πάνυ [


6 Athenaeus 645bc

ἐγὼ μὲν ἄρτους, μᾶζαν, ἀθάρην, ἄλφιτα, κόλλικας, ὀβελίαν, μελιτοῦτταν, ἐπιχύτους, πτισάνην, πλακοῦντας, δενδαλίδας, ταγηνίας.




1 The sort of things these nasty little birds eat: gnats, I suppose, worms, grasshoppers, locusts.

2 Why don’t you [sing.] take your hands off the [“my”?] staff and jacket and go to hell?

3 Does a spider’s web seem to be rooted in there?

5 . . . if you [sing.] run . . . you will see very . . .

Brief fragment: (F 4) “baited trap.”


For the title, the tradition gives both cheirogastores and encheirogastores. The ancient lexicographers usually explain the word as meaning “those who feed themselves by manual labour,” while Eustathius (On the Iliad p. 286.21) says that it is used to describe the Cyclopes, who built the walls of cities in the Argolid in return for food. The scholiast to Aelius Aristeides (p. 408.25 Dindorf) distinguishes three sorts of Cyclopes, those in Sicily whom Odysseus encountered, these “hands-to-mouth,” and the “heavenly ones.” A crew of hungry Cyclopes, willing to work for food, could have made a good comic chorus.


6 I <have, provide> loaves of bread, barley cake, porridge, barley groats, rolls, bread on a spit, honey cake, cupcakes, barley gruel, flat-cakes, barley cakes, pancakes.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.nicophon-testimonia_fragments.2011