There are six quotations from this play, one of which shows that it was a satyr play. We do not know what its plot was, but it is a fair surmise that it involved the story, told in the early epic Cypria, that Zeus wished to reduce the population of the earth, and at first thought of doing so by means of thunderbolts or of a flood, but changed his mind and decided to go down to earth and beget a beautiful


Nauplius was the son of Poseidon by Amymone, one of the daughters of Danaus, and was by his wife Clymene the father of Palamedes. Palamedes, often said to have been the inventor of the alphabet, of numbers, and of other useful devices, was the main rival of Odysseus as a man of cunning, and was hated by him because he had unmasked the pretence of madness by which Odysseus had tried to avoid taking part in the expedition to Troy. Odysseus trumped up a charge against him and caused him to be put to death (see on the Palamedes), and the dead man’s father, Nauplius, came to the Greek camp to demand justice. When his demand was refused, he first used his celebrated skill as a navigator to sail round the homes of the various Greek heroes and encourage their wives to commit adultery. The wives of Agamemnon, Diomedes and Idomeneus responded to his suggestions, with unfortunate consequences for their husbands when they returned home. When the Greeks were sailing home from Troy, Nauplius lighted a beacon on Cape Caphereus,


Fragments of Known Plays


ful daughter over whom men would fight, with the desired result. According to a scholion on Homer, Iliad 1, 5 Zeus took this decision on the advice of Momos, the personification of fault-finding, who had criticised his original proposal. One wonders if the encounter with Leda, resulting in the birth of Helen, which was the consequence of Zeus’ decision, figured in the play.

Nauplius Sails in and Nauplius Lights A Fire

at the southern tip of Euboea, near some of the most dangerous rocks of the Mediterranean. Thinking this to indicate a safe refuge, a number of the Greeks sailed their ships on to the rocks and perished. There is a story that Nauplius himself finally met his end as the victim of some other wrecker; for another story about him, see on the Aleadae. A fragmentary hypothesis on papyrus seems to summarise the καταπλέων: it is printed below as fr. 434a.

Four quotations (frr. 425–428) name the καταπλέων, three (429–431) the πυρκαεύς, and six simply the Ναύπλιος. Possibly there was only one play, but probably there were two. Some think that the καταπλέων dealt with Nauplius’ visit to the Greek camp to demand justice; others that it described his voyage around Greece to corrupt his enemies’ wives. But the title πυρκαεύς seems to indicate that that play was about Nauplius’ activities as a wrecker, and fr. 435, and perhaps 433 and 434 also, support this notion. See on The Madness of Odysseus and the Palamedes.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.sophocles-fragments_known_plays.1996