Telestes, Comic Testimonia

LCL 515: 310-311

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The Poets of Old Comedy



i Suda τ 265

Τελέστης, κωμικός. τούτου δράματά ἐστιν Ἀργὼ καὶ Ἀσκληπιός, ὥς φησιν Ἀθήναιος ἐν τῷ ιδ΄ τῶν Δειπνοσοφιστῶν.

ii Marmor Parium

ἀφ᾿ οὗ Τελέστης Σελινούντιος ἐνίκησεν Ἀθήνησιν, ἔτη ΗΔΔΔΠΙΙΙΙ, ἄρχοντος Ἀθήνησιν Μίκωνος.




At first glance the testimony of the Suda (T 1) and the joking aside at Telestes by Theopompus (T 3) might suggest one comic poet making fun of another. But the other references to Telestes (T 4–5; Athenaeus 616f, 637a; PMG F 929) associate him with the dithyramb, and in particular with the “new poets” of the late fifth and early fourth centuries. The fragments we have from his Argo and his Asclepius (PMG F 805–6) are Doricised lyric rather than Attic comedy. Athenaeus (637a) cites four lines from a dithyramb called Hymenaeus (F 808), and Philodemus a work which seems to be Birth of Zeus. The last recalls the birth comedies of the early fourth century (cf. Polyzelus), and the story of Argo does turn up in comedy and satyr play. This may explain the Suda’s misidentification of Telestes as a comic poet. See Campbell GL V 122–33.


i Telestes: comic poet. His plays include Argo and Asclepius, as Athenaeus says in Book 14 of The Learned Banqueters [616f–17b].

ii From the time when Telestes of Selinus won a victory at Athens, 139 years—the archon at Athens was Micon [402/1].

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.telestes-comic_testimonia.2011