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Phi'locles

Φιλοκλῆς), literary.

1. An Athenian tragic poet, the sister's son of Aeschylus ; his father's name was Philopeithes. The genealogy of the family is shown in the following table, from Clinton (F. H. vol. ii. p. xxxv.) :

Suidas states that Philocles was contemporary with Euripides (adopting the emendation of Clinton, μετὰ for κατὰ), and that he composed 100 tragedies, among which were the following :--Ἠριγόνη, Ναύπλιος, Οἰδίπους, Οἰνεύς, Πείαμος, Πηνελόπη, Φιλοκτήτης. Besides these, we learn from the Didascaliae of Aristotle (ap. Schol. ad Aristoph. Au. 281) that he wrote a tetralogy on the fates of Procne and Philomela, under the title of Pandionis, one play of which was called Τηρεὺς ἔποψ, Tereus, or the Hoopoe, and furnished Aristophanes with a subject of ridicule in the Birds, where he not only introduces the Hoopoe as one of the chief characters, but gives point to the parody by making him say, in answer to the surprise expressed by Pisthetaerus at seeing another hoopoe (5.281) :--

Ἀλλ᾽ οὗτος μέν ἐστι Φιλοκλέους
ἐξ ἔποπος, ἐγὼ δὲ τούτου πάππος, ὥσπερ εἰ λέγοις
Ἱππόνικος Καλλίου κἀξ Ἱππονίκου Καλλίας
,

which we may perhaps explain, taking a hint from the scholiast, thus :--" I am the original hoopoe : the other is the son of Philocles, and my grandson," insinuating that Philocles, the author of the Τηρεὺς Ἔποψ, was himself indebted to an earlier play on the same subject, namely, according to the/ scholiast, the Tereus of Sophocles. That Philocles, indeed, was an imitator of Sophocles, might be conjectured from the identity of some of the titles mentioned by Suidas with those of plays by Sophocles ; and there is also reason to believe that the tragedians who succeeded the three great masters of the art were in the habit of expanding their single plays into trilogies. In the general character of his plays, we must, however, regard Philocles as an imitator, not of Sophocles, but of Aeschylus, whom, on account of his relationship, he would na turally, according to the custom of the Greeks, have for his teacher. That he was not altogether un worthy of his great master, may be inferred from the fact that, on one occasion he actually gained a victory over Sophocles, an honour to which, as Aristeides indignantly remarks (ii. p. 256), Aeschylus himself never attained. The circumstance is the more remarkable, as the drama of Sophocles to which that of Philocles was preferred, was the Oedipus Tyrannus, which we are accustomed to regard as the greatest work of Greek dramatic art. It is useless to discuss the various conjectures by which modern critics have attempted to explain this curious fact : its chief importance is in the proof it furnishes that Philocles must have been a poet of real excellence, for otherwise he could not, under any circumstances, have been preferred to Sophocles. It is true that a different impression might be gathered from the terms in which the comic poets refer to him; but it ought never to be forgotten that the poets of the Old Comedy were essentially and avowedly caricaturists; nay, a man's being abused by them is in itself a proof that he was eminent enough to be worth abusing. The following are some of the attacks made by the comic poets upon Philocles. Telecleides says that, though reated to Aeschylus, he had nothing of his spirit (Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec. vol. ii. p. 366). The same poet seems to have attacked him for departing from the purity of the Attic language (see Meineke, Hit. Crit. Com. Graec. vol. i. p. 90). Cratinus charged him with corrupting the fable, that is, probably, of Tereus, in his Pandionis (Schol. ad Soph. Antig. 402; Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec. vol. ii. p. 226). Aristophanes not only ridicules his Hoopoe, but compares him to another bird, the κορυδός, or crested lark (Av. 1295). In another place he says that, being ugly himself, he makes ugly poetry (Tlesm. 168); and elsewhere he insinuates that the lyric odes of Philocles were anything but sweet and pleasing (Vesp. 462). In explanation of these passages the scholiasts inform us that Philocles was little and ugly, and that his head was of a sharp projecting shape, which gave occasion to the comparison between him and a crested bird, such as the hoopoe; but explanations of this sort are very often nothing more than fancies of the commentators, having no other foundation than the text which they affect to explain. On the last-quoted allusion of Aristophanes, however, the grammarians do throw some light, for they tell us that Philocles was nicknamed Bile and Salt (Χολή, Ἁλμίων), on account of a certain harshness and unpleasantness in his poetry (Suid.; Schol. in Aristoph. Birds 281, Vesp. 462); from which we may infer that, in his attempt to imitate Aeschylus, he fell into a harsh and repulsive style, unredeemed by his uncle's genius.

The date of Philocles may be determined by his victory over Sophocles, which took place in B. C. 429, when he must have been at the least 40 years old, for his son Morsimus is mentioned as a poet only five years later. We possess no remains of his poetry except a single line, which seems to come from a satyric drama (Ath. ii. p. 66). This line has led Meineke to doubt whether there was not a comic poet of the same name, identical, perhaps, with Philocles, the father of Philippides. The scholiast on Aristophanes (Aristoph. Birds 281) and Suidas, followed by Eudocia, expressly mention a comic poet Philocles; but the passages themselves contain abundant proof that they refer to one and the same person as the subject of this article. The error of writing κωμικόςand κωμῳδία for τραγιλός and τραγῳδία, and conversely, is excessively common in the works of the grammarians; and especially when, as often happens, the tragic poet has been an object of ridicule to the comic poets, which we have seen to be the case with Philocles.

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429 BC (1)
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