Telecides, Testimonia and Fragments

LCL 515: 284-285

Go To Section
Go To Section

The Poets of old Comedy


We are particularly poorly informed about Teleclides. Athenaeus (T 1) names only three comedies, although he does cite from Hesiods elsewhere, while the Roman inscription (T 5) gives two new titles, one beginning in Symp–and the other ending in–iōtai, for which Stratiōtai (Soldiers) or Nesiōtai (Islanders) or Sikeliōtai (Men of Sicily) have been suggested. T 2 gives him a total of seven plays, but the lists (T 3, 4) record the impressive total of eight victories, suggesting a rather higher number of comedies for him. That his authorship was doubted in some cases (see F 12, 58) and that the Roman inscription (T 5) includes the description “extant” shows that the ancients had lost considerable knowledge about Teleclides’ works.

Teleclides, with his eight victories, was a part of that successful generation of comic poets immediately preceding the advent of Aristophanes and Eupolis. His career probably dates back to the late 440s and runs into the early 420s, since F 44 mentions Nicias, whose political career seems to have begun after the death of Pericles (see Plutarch Nicias 2). If Nicias’ four minas (F 44) have anything to do with his passing of the generalship on to Cleon in 425, then Teleclides’ play belongs in the late 420s. But Plutarch, who cites the fragment, is not reporting it in the context of Pylos. Some have seen the man coming from Aegina “with a




face like a boil” (F 46) as Aristophanes; if so, this too would indicate a date for a play after 427. On the Roman inscription (T 5) epa– in line 1 might indicate the archonship of Epameinon (429/8) and in line 3 “–pi Eud–“ has been restored as “epi Eu<thy>dēmou” (in the archonship of Euthydemus [431/0]). If in line 5 “an–” is correctly supplemented as “anedidaxe” (re-performed), then Rigid Ones was staged on a second occasion. F 44 refers also to Charicles, a politician of the 410s and 400s, and might suggest at least one comedy by him in the 410s.

The fragments show a poet very much in the style and manner of Aristophanes. Of the seventy-three fragments nearly twenty contain personal jokes, some in the familiar political style. F 45 and 47 made fun of Pericles, the latter fastening on his distinctive head. Like Aristophanes, Teleclides found other dramatists a source of humour. F 41–42 turn on the alleged link between Euripides and Socrates (cf. Aristophanes F 392), and if the chervil reference in F 40 is to Euripides and his mother, Aristophanes may not have been the one to have pioneered that joke. The text of F 15 is corrupt but enough survives to show that a female speaker has a fault to find with Philocles, the tragic poet and nephew of Aeschylus. Other poets who caught Teleclides’ attention were Nothippus (F 17) and Gnesippus

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.telecides-testimonia_fragments.2011