The Poets of old Comedy


Two dates are given for his debut: “in the 87th Olympiad” [436–2–T 1] and “the archonship of Apollodorus” [429–T 2]. As the latter is very probably giving us the occasion of a poet’s first play, and not just the fact that both Eupolis and Phrynichus produced a play in the same year, the latter date (429) is to be preferred. The hypothesis to Frogs (T 8) shows that he was still active in 405. Ten titles are known—in T 1 Satyrs and Tragic Actors have for some reason interrupted the alphabetical sequence, and then Satyrs was inadvertently repeated.

Two of his comedies have the same title as plays by Ameipsias. While two comic poets may well have each written a play called “Revellers,” that each wrote a “Connus” about the well-known musical figure of the 420s seems less likely. Five fragments of a Revellers are attributed to Phrynichus, none to a play by Ameipsias, although T 7 definitely names Ameipsias as the winning poet at D-414 with a comedy of that name. For Connus, three fragments are attributed to Phrynichus and six to Ameipsias. A hypothesis to Clouds (Ameipsias T 5) fixes the production of Ameipsias’ Connus at D-423. I suspect some sort of relationship between Phrynichus and Ameipsias, either as collaborators in comedy, or that Ameipsias produced one or two of Phrynichus’ comedies, as Philonides did for Aristophanes.


The Poets of old Comedy

If Phrynichus is the real author of Revellers, it will have allowed him to stage two plays at one festival (D-414), as Aristophanes seems to have done with Philonides’ help at L-422.

We can pin down some of Phrynichus’ dates: a comedy in 429, probably Cronus, since Diopeithes (F 9) is known to have been active in the late 430s and a comedy of this title would fit well with the burlesques of myth in the 430s, especially Cratinus’ Wealth-Gods, Connus at D-423, Revellers and Hermit at D-414, Muses at L-405. For Ephialtes (or Nightmare?) and Lady Grass-Cutters, the references to Meidias (F 4, 43) should put these comedies in the 410s. Satyrs is most easily placed in the late 420s or very early 410s, while Tragic Actors andInitiates remain less easy to date.

His was not as prolific a career (ten plays in twenty-five years) as Aristophanes’ or Eupolis’, and his high point seems to have been the 410s. He did win a victory at the Lenaea (T 6), perhaps even in his first attempt in 429; if not then, certainly in 428. But his first victory at the Dionysia (T 5) seems not to have come until 420 or after. An early Play (Cronus?) contained a parody of the story of Andromeda, with a drunken old woman threatened by the sea monster (T 9, F 77).

As far as we can tell from the few fragments and play

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.phrynichus-testimonia_fragments.2011