Nicophon, Testimonia and Fragments

LCL 514: 396-397

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The Poets of Old Comedy


Occasionally confused with Nicochares, a comic poet of the same time and a similar style, Nicophon can be firmly dated to the late fifth and early fourth centuries. On the list of victors at the Dionysia (T 3), he comes before Cephisodorus, for whom a victory in 402 is attested, and his Adonis (see below) competed against Aristophanes’ Wealth in 388. The Suda (T 1) gives five titles, which do not include Adonis. Thus six plays over a period of at least fifteen years suggest a poet of the second rank. Four titles indicate that burlesques of myth were his principal sort of comedy.


i Suda ν 406

Νικόφων Θήρωνος, Ἀθηναῖος, κωμικός, σύγχρονος Ἀριστοφάνους τοῦ κωμικοῦ. τῶν δραμάτων αὐτοῦ καὶ ταῦτα· Ἐξ Ἅιδου ἀνιών, Ἀφροδίτης γοναί, Πανδώρα, Ἐγχειρογάστορες, Σειρῆνες.

ii Herodian Singular Vocabulary II p. 915.3

ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲν εἰς ων λῆγον περισπώμενον ὑπὲρ δύο συλλαβὰς φύσει μακρᾷ παραλήγεται. Ἀντιφῶν, Ξενοφῶν, Εὐρυφῶν Ὁμήρου υἱός, Νικοφῶν ὁ κωμικός.




There are no kōmōidoumenoi among the thirty fragments, nor anything that implies a political theme. Four of the comedies (Adonis, Birth of Aphrodite, Pandora, Sirens) have very alluring and attractive women as main characters or chorus, and Nicophon’s comedy may have turned on the potential in beauty for comic rivalry and disaster. The Suda gives his father’s name as Theron, a rare name at Athens, with no other instance known for the late fifth century.

Recent bibliography: M. Pellegrino, AFLB 49 (2006) 43–97.


i Nicophon: son of Theron, of Athens, comic poet, a contemporary of the comic poet Aristophanes. His plays include: Back from Hades, Birth of Aphrodite, Pandora, Hands-to-Mouth, Sirens.

ii No word ending in –ōn with a circumflex on the last syllable and containing more than two syllables has a penultimate syllable which is long: Antiphon, Xenophon, Euryphon the son of Homer, Nicophon the comic poet.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.nicophon-testimonia_fragments.2011