Philonides, Testimonia and Fragments

LCL 515: 4-5

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The Poets of old Comedy


Aristophanes produced some of his comedies “through others,” not only at the start of his career, when we could expect that youth and a lack of self-confidence might lead a novice to employ the talents of others, but also later in his career with the plays of his maturity, such as Birds and Frogs. Perhaps Aristophanes preferred to create comedy and eschewed the humdrum of actually putting it on, dealing with the temperaments of actors, chorus members, chorēgoi, and public officials. One of these producers was Philonides, a comic poet in his own right (T 1, 2), and if his name is correctly restored on T 4, a successful one at the Dionysia.

As Philonides’ son Nicochares, a comic poet as well, is assigned to the deme of Cydathenaeum, the same deme to which Aristophanes belonged, it is very tempting to


i Suda φ 450

Φιλωνίδης· Ἀθηναῖος, κωμικὸς ἀρχαῖος· πρότερον δὲ ἦν γραφεύς.1 τῶν δραμάτων αὐτοῦ ἦν Κοθόρνοι, Ἀπήνη, Φιλέταιρος.




identify our Philonides with the member of a thiasos of Heracles, based in the deme Cydathenaeum (T 3). Also significant is the fact that Aristophanes’ first play, Banqueters, which one source (T 7b) says was produced through Philonides, featured a chorus of men holding a feast in honour of Heracles (Orion p. 49.8). Of the other names on T 3, four are mentioned in Aristophanes’ extant work (Simon, Lysanias, Antitheus, Amphitheus), while Hegemon is the name of a comic poet and writer of parodies. It seems that there was a complex web of intertextual and metatheatrical comic references which we can only dimly grasp.

We know of three titles, but only Buskins has any fragments. The allusion to Theramenes [F 6], who was nicknamed “Buskin” (cothurnus), implies that this comedy belongs around 405.


i Philonides: of Athens, poet of Old Comedy. Previously he was a scribe [or “fuller”]. His plays include Buskins, Mule-Car, Good Friend.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.philonides-testimonia_fragments.2011