Ecphantides, Testimonia and Fragments

LCL 514: 4-5

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The Poets of Old Comedy


A minor comic poet of the early period, his name appears on the list of victors at the Dionysia (T 1) after that of Euphronius (victory known for 458) and before that of Cratinus. His carer began, therefore, in the mid-450s. F 5 refers to one Androcles, a kōmōidoumenos of the 420s, and if the allusion is correctly attributed, shows that he must still have been active in the mid- to late 430s. As with many of these early or lesser poets, only one or two plays were actually known and quoted from. In Ecphantides’ case it was his Satyrs. The recorded total of four victories, set against only two known titles, confirms that he was more active (and more successful) than the meagre remains suggest.

There appears to be an intertextual conversation going on between Cratinus and Ecphantides. Cratinus quotes the other poet by name (F 361.1 = T 7a) and at F 502


i IG ii2 2325.49

Ἐκφαν]τίδης IIII




creates the comic compound Choerilecphantides, Choerilus being the early tragic poet (TrGF I nr. 2, 66–67). We may compare his linking of Euripides (tragedian) with Aristophanes (comic poet) at F 342 in a similar compound, euripidaristophanizein. The scholiast to Wasps 151 (T 5) implies that Cratinus had called Ecphantides “Smoky,” the metaphor being that of wine going stale. The point is presumably the same as that at Knights 507–40, successful poets of earlier days, now past their prime.

A vase of the late sixth century by Euphronius depicts a scene at a symposium with a singer named Ecphantides. Vermeule (Antike Kunst 8 [1965] 34–39) points out that fifty years later we find comic poets named Euphronius and Ecphantides—grandsons of the vase painter and singer?


i [list of victors at the Dionysia, from the late 450s]

Ecphan]tides 4

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.ecphantides-testimonia_fragments.2011