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Phrynichus

PHRYNICHUS i. Son of Polyphradmon and pupil of Thespis, one of the earliest of the Greek tragedians. Some of the ancients, indeed, regarded him as the real founder of tragedy. He gained his first poetical victory in 511 B.C. His famous play, the Capture of Miletus, was probably composed shortly after the conquest of that city by the Persians. The audience was moved to tears, the poet was fined for reminding the Athenians of their misfortunes, and it was decreed that no play on the subject should be produced again. In 476 Phrynichus was successful with the Phoenissae, so called from the Phoenician women who formed the chorus, which celebrated the defeat of Xerxes at Salamis (480). Themistocles acted as choragus, and one of the objects of the play was to remind the Athenians of his great deeds. The Persians of Aeschylus (472) was an imitation of the Phoenissae. Phrynichus is said to have died in Sicily. Some of the titles of his plays, Dana/ides, Actaeon, Alcestis, Tantalus, show that he treated mythological as well as contemporary subjects. He introduced a separate actor as distinct from the leader of the chorus, and thus laid the foundation of dialogue. But in his plays, as in the early tragedies generally, the dramatic element was subordinate to the lyric element as represented by the chorus and the dance. According to Suidas, Phrynichus first introduced female characters on the stage (played by men in masks), and made special use of the trochaic tetrameter.

Fragments in A. Nauck, Tragicorum graecorum fragmenta (1887).

2. PHRYNICHUS, A poet of the Old Attic comedy and a contemporary of Aristophanes. His first comedy was exhibited in 429 B.C. He xxi. 18 composed ten plays, of which the Solitary (Mowrpoiros) was exhibited in 414 along with the Birds of Aristophanes and gained the third prize. The Muses carried off the second prize in 405, Aristophanes being first with the Frogs, in which he accuses Phrynichus of employing vulgar tricks to raise a laugh, of plagiarism and bad versification. Fragments in T. Kock, Comicorum atticorum fragmenta, (1880).

3. PHRYNICHUS ARABIUS, a grammarian of Bithynia, lived in the 2nd century A.D. According to Suidas he was the author of (i) an Alticist, or On Attic Words, in two books; (2) liBeiitvuv avvayuyfi, a collection of subjects for discussion; (3) 2o<#>iori/ci> irapa.o'Ktvfi, or Sophistical Equipment, in forty-seven (or seventy-four) books. As models of Attic style Phrynichus assigned the highest place to Plato, Demosthenes and Aeschines the Socratic. The work was learned, but prolix and garrulous. A fragment contained in a Paris MS. was published by B. de Montfaucon, and by I. Bekker in his Anecdota graeca (1814). Another work of Phrynichus, not mentioned by Photius, but perhaps identical with the Alticist mentioned by Suidas, the Selection ('E/cXo-y^) of Attic Words and Phrases, is extant. It is dedicated to Cornelianus, a man of literary tastes, and one of the imperial secretaries, who had invited the author to undertake the work. It is a collection of current words and forms which deviated from the Old Attic standard, the true Attic equivalents being given side by side. The work is thus a lexicon antibarbarum, and is interesting as illustrating the changes through which the Greek language had passed between the 4th century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D.

Editions of the 'EicXoT^, with valuable notes, have been published by C. A. Lpbeck ( 1 820) and W. G . Rutherford ( 1 88 1 ) ; Lobeck devotes his attention chiefly to the later, Rutherford to the earlier usages noticed by Phrynichus. See also J. Brenous, De Phrynicho Atticista (1895).

4. An Athenian general in the Peloponnesian War. He took a leading part in establishing the oligarchy of the Four Hundred at Athens in 411 B.C., and was assassinated in the same year (Thucydides viii.).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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