), an Athenian comic poet of the Old Comedy, who is, however, better known as one of the two persons in whose names Aristophanes brought out some of his plays, than by his own dramas.
The information we have of him as a poet can be stated in a very few words ; but the question of his connection with Aristophanes demands a careful examination.
Before becoming a poet, Philonides was either a fuller or a painter, according to the different texts of Suidas and Eudocia, the former giving γναφεύς
, the latter γραφεύς
Three of his plays are mentioned, Ἀπήνη
, and Φιλέταιρος
The title of Κόθορνοι
would of itself lead us to suppose that it was an attack upon Theramenes, whose party fickleness had gained him the well-known epithet Κόθορνος
, and this conjecture is fully confirmed by the following passage of a grammarian (Bekker, Anecd.
p. 100. 1) : Θηραμένης τὴν κλητικήν Φιλιππίδης Κοθόρνοις
, where we ought no doubt to read Φιλωνίδης
, for no such play of Philippides is ever mentioned, but the Κόθορνοι
of Philonides, besides being mentioned by Suidas, is several times quoted by Athenaeus and other writers.
The plural number of the title, Κόθορνοι
, is no doubt because the chorus consisted of persons of the character of Theramenes. We have another example of that confusion between names beginning with Phil.,
which has been noticed under PHILEMON, in the fact that many fragments, which Stobaeus has preserved under the name of Philonides, are evidently front the New Comedy, and ought to be ascribed to Philemon or Philippides. (Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec.
vol. i. pp. 102-104, vol. ii. pp. 421-425; Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. ii. p. 482.)
Philonides and Aristophanes
The other question respecting Philonides is one of very great importance in connection with the literary history of the Old Comedy in general, and of Aristophanes in particular.
It is generally believed that Philonides was an actor of Aristophanes, who is said to have committed to him and to Callistratus his chief characters.
But the evidence on which this statement rests is regarded by some of the best modern critics as leading to a very different conclusion, namely, that several of the plays of Aristophanes were brought out in the names of Callistratus and Philonides.
This question has been treated of by such scholars as seen Ranke, C. F. Hermann, Fritzsch, Hanovius, W. Dindorf, and Droysen; but by far the most elaborate and satisfactory discussion of it is that by Theodor Bergk, prefixed to his edition of the fragments of Aristophanes, in Meineke's Fragmenta Comicorum Graecorum,
vol. ii. pp. 902-939.
It must be remembered that, when a poet wished to exhibit a drama, he had first to apply to either the first or second archon for a chorus, his obtaining which depended on the opinion of the archon as to the merits of his play, and also in no small degree on personal and political influence. We even find choruses refused to such poets as Sophocles and Cratinus. Even when he succeeded in obtaining a chorus, he had to encounter the proverbial capriciousness of an Athenian audience, whose treatment even of old favourites was, as Aristophanes complains, no small discouragement to a young candidate for their favour.
In order to reduce the obstacles which a young poet found thus placed in his way upon the very threshold, two courses were customary : the candidate for dramatic honours either brought out in his own name the play of some popular poet, the intrinsic merit of which was sure to obtain a chorus, or else he availed himself of the reputation of a well-known poet by applying for a chorus in his name.
The result was that by the former plan, which we know to have been adopted by the sons of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes, the young poet's name became known, and he could more easily hope to obtain a chorus for one of his own plays ; and, in the latter case, the reception of his works would encourage him to appear again under his own name, or the contrary.
There is, in fact, a passage of Aristophanes, which, if the figure be interpreted closely, would suggest the notion that it was customary for a young poet to pass through the following three stages : the first, assisting another poet in the composition of the less important passages of his plays (like the pupils of a great artist), as we know Eupolis to have worked under Aristophanes in the Knights ;
then putting out his own dramas under the name of another poet, in order to see how the popular favour inclined ; and lastly, producing them in his own name.
These several stages are perhaps intimated by the phrases, ἐρέτην γένεσθαι, πρωρατεῦσαι καὶ τοὺς ἀνέηους διαθρῆσαι
, and κυβερνᾶν αὐτὸν έαυτώ
in the passage alluded to (Eq.
541-543, see Bergk, l.c.
pp. 916, 917).
In addition to the reasons just stated, there is a very common opinion, founded on the statement of a grammarian (Schol. 22 Aristoph. Nub.
530), that an express law forbade a poet to exhibit a drama in his own name while he was under thirty years of age; but Bergk has shown (I. c.
pp. 906, 907) that this law is probably one of those innumerable fictions of the commentators, who state as facts things which are simply the expression of their own notion of their author's meaning; for Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides are all known to have brought out plays in their own names while they were under thirty.
Now, in every case, the name enrolled in the public records was that of the person in whose name the chorus was applied for, whether he were the real author or not, and this is the name which appears in the Didascalia
prefixed to a play under the form ἐδιδάχθη διὰ Καλλιστράτου
), or δἰ αὐτοῦ Ἀριστοφάνους
In fact, according to the original spirit of the institution, the chorus
was the only essential part of a play, and the public functionaries knew nothing of the author as such,
but only of the teacher of the chorus.
Now we can easily understand how, when a poet was wealthy and fond of enjoyment, he might choose to assign the laborious duty of training the chorus and actors to another person; and thus, besides the reasons already stated for a poet's using another's name at the commencement of his career, we see another ground on which he might continue that practice, after his reputation was established.
Now we learn from Aristophanes himself, to say nothing of other evidence, not only the fact that he brought out his early plays in the names of other poets, but also his reasons for so doing.
In the Purabasis
of the Knights (5.514), he states that he had pursued this course, not from want of thought, but from a sense of the difficulty of his profession, and from a fear that he might suffer from that fickleness of taste which the Athenians had shown towards other poets, as Magnes, Crates, and Cratinus. Again, in the Parabasis
of the Clouds
(5.530), he expresses the same thing in the following significant language :--
κἀγώ, παρθένος γὰπ έτ᾽ ἦ, κοὐκ ἐξῆν πώ μοι τεκεῖν
ἐξέθηκα, παῖς δ᾽ ἑτέρα τις λαβοῦσ᾽ ἀνείλετο,
where the last words evidently imply, if the figure is to be interpreted consistently, that the person in whose name he brought out the play referred to (the Daetaleis
) was another poet.
It was evidently the word ἐξῆν
in this passage that misled the scholiast into his fancy of a legal prohibition.
We must now inquire what light the ancient grammarians throw upon the subject.
The author of the anonymous work, Περὶ κωμωδίας
, who is decidedly one of the best of these writers, states (p. xxix.) that "Aristophanes first exhibited (ἐδίδαξε
) in the archonship of Diotimus (B. C. 427), in the name of Callistratus (διὰ καλλιστράτου
); for his political comedies (τὰς πολιτικὰς
) they say that he gave to him,but those against Euripidesand Socrates to Philonides; and on account of this (first drama) being esteemed a good poet, he conquered on subsequent occasions (τοὺς λοιποὺς
, sc χρόνους
), enrolling his own name as the author (ἐπιγραφόμενος
Afterwards he gave his dramas to his son" (Araros).
The play which he exhibited on this occasion was the Δαιταλεῖς
). To the same effect another respectable grammarian, the author of the life of Aristophanes, tells us(p. xxxv.) that "being at first exceedingly cautious and otherwise clever, he brought out (καθίει
, the regular word for bringing into a contest) his first dramas in the names of (διὰ
) Callistratus and Philonides; wherefore he was ridiculed .... on the ground that he laboured for others :
but afterwards he contended in his own name
) :" here again the phrase "that he laboured for others" must imply that Callistratus and Philonides were poets.
Thus far all is clear and consistent. Aristophanes, from motives of modesty and caution, but not from any legal necessity, began to exhibit, not in his own name, but in that of Callistratus, and afterwards of Philonides.
The success of these first efforts encouraged him to come forward as the avowed author of his plays; and again, towards the close of his life, he aided his son Araros, by allowing him to bring out some of his dramas (the Cocalus
for example) in his own name.
But at the close of this very same Life of Aristophanes
(p. xxxix.) we find the error which we have to expose, but yet combined with truth as to the main fact, in the statement that "the actors of
Aristophanes were Callistratus and Philonides, in whose names
) he exhibited his own dramas, the public (or political) ones (τὰ δημοτικά
) in the name of Philonides, and the private (or personal) ones (τὰ ἰδιωτικά
) in that of Callistratus."
It seems that the grammarian, though himself understanding the meaning of διά
, copied the error into which some former writer had been led, by supposing that it referred to the actors :
for, that it cannot have that sense in the passage before us, is obvious from the tautology which would arise from so translating it, and from the force of the ἑαυτοῦ ;
namely, "the actors
of Aristophanes were Callistratus and Philonides, by whom as actors
he exhibited his own
dramas." We may, however, with great probability regard the passage as a later interpolation : how little credit is due to it is plain from the fact that the distribution of subjects in the last clause agrees neither with the testimony already cited, nor with the information which we derive from the Didascaliae,
as to the plays which were assigned respectively to Philonides and Callistratus. From the Didascaliae
and other testimonies, we find that the Babylonians
(B. C. 426) and the Acharnians
(B. C. 425) were also brought out in the name of Callistratus; and that the first play which Aristophanes exhibited in his own name was the Knights,
B. C. 424 (ἐδιδάχθη....δι᾽ αὐτοῦ τοῦ Ἀριστοφάνους
, Didasc.). And hence the notion has been hastily adopted, that he henceforth continued to exhibit in his own name, until towards the close of his life, when he allowed Araros to bring out his plays.
But, on the contrary, we find from the Didascaliae
that he brought out the Birds
(B. C. 414) and the Lysistrata
(B. C. 411) in the name of Callistratus (διὰ καλλιστράτου
Thus far the testimonies quoted have only referred to Philonides in general terms : it remains to be seen what particular plays Aristophanes brought out in his name. From the above statements of the grammarians it might be inferred that Aristophanes used the name of Philonides in this manner before
the composition of the Knights ;
but this is probably only a part of the error by which it was assumed that, from the time of his exhibiting the Knights,
it was his constant custom to bring out his comedies in his own name.
It is true that the scholiast on the passage from the Clouds,
above quoted, in which the Daetaleis
is referred to, explains the phrase παῖς ἑτέρα
as mealling Φιλωνίδης καὶ καγγίστρατος
, and Dindorf, by putting together this passage and the above inference, imagines that the Daetaleis
was brought out in the name of Philonides (Frag. Arist. Daet.
); but the scholiast is evidently referring, not so much to the bringing out of this particular play (for παίς ἑτέρα
cannot mean two persons, nor were dramas ever brought out in more than one name) as to the practice of Aristophanes with respect to several of his plays.
There is, therefore, no reason for the violent and arbitrary alteration of the words of the grammarian, who, as above quoted, expressly says that the play was exhibited διὰ καλλιστράτου.
There is, therefore, no evidence that Aristophanes exhibited under the name of Philonides previous to the date of the Knights ;
but that he did so afterwards we know on the clearest evidence. His next play, the Clouds
(B. C. 423), we might suppose to have been brought out in the name of Philonides, on account of the statement of the grammarian, that Aristophanes assigned to him the plays against Socrates and Euripides, coupled with the known fact that the Frogs
were exhibited in the name of Philoides ; but, however this may be, we find that, in the following year, B. C. 422, Aristophanes brought oult two plays, the Proagon and the Wasps,
both in the name of Philonides, and gained with them the first and second prize.
This statement rests on the authority of the difficult and certainly corrupted Passage in the Didascalia
of the Wasps,
into the critical discussion of which we cannot here enter, further than to give, as the result, the following amended reading, which is founded on the Ravenna MS., adopted both by Dindorf and Bergk, and of the correctness of which there can now hardly be a doubt :--Ἐδιδάχθη ἐπὶ ἄρχοντος Ἀμυνίου διὰ Φιλωνίδου ἐν τῇ πθ᾽ ὀλυμπιάδι : Β᾽
(i. e. δεύτερος
) ἦ. εἰς Λήναια : καὶ ἐνίκα πρῶτος Φιλωνίδης Προαγῶνι, Λεύκων Πρέσβεσι γ
) ; from which we learn that the Wasps
was exhibited at the Lenaea, in the 89th Olympiad, in the year of the Archon Amynias, under the name of Philonides. and that it gained the second place, the first being assigned to the Προάγων
, which was also exhibited in the name of Philonides, and which we know from other sources to have been a play of Aristophanes (see the Fragments), and the third to the Πρέσβεις
of Leucon. 1
Plays produced by Aristophanes under the name of Philonides
In the year B. C. 414 we again find Aristophanes exhibiting two plays (though at different festivals), the Amphiaraus,
in the name of Philonides, and the Birds,
in that of Callistratus (Arg. in Av.
) ; and, lastly, we learn from the Didascalia
to the Frogs,
that that play also was brought out in the name of Philonides. We thus see that Aristophanes used the name of Philonides, probably, for the Clouds
(see Bergk, l.c.
pp. 913, 914), and certainly for the Wasps,
the Proagon, the Amphiaraus,
and the Frogs.
and the Lysistrata,
were brought out, as we have seen, in the name of Callistratus. Of the extant plays of Aristophanes, the only ones which he is known to have brought out in his own name are the Knights,
and the Plutus.
His two last plays, the Cocalus
he gave to his son Araros. The Themophoriazusae
and the Ecclesiazusae
have no name attached to them in the Didascaliae.
These views are further supported by Bergk, in an elaborate discussion of all the passages in Aristophanes and his scholiasts, which bear upon the matter; which must be read by all who wish to master this important question in the literary history of Aristophanes.
There still remain, however, one or two questions which must not be passed over. Supposing it established, that Aristophanes brought out many of his plays in the names of Callistratus and Philonides, might they not also be the chief actors in those plays, and, if not, who and what were they ? From what has been said in the early part of this article, a strong presumption may be gathered that the persons in whose names the dramas of others were exhibited were themselves poets,
who had already gained a certain degree of reputation, but who, from advancing years, or for other reasons, might prefer this sort of literary partnership to the risk and trouble of original composition. Indeed, it would appear, on the face of the thing, an absurdity for a person, who did not profess to be a poet, to enrol his name with the archon as the author of a drama, and to undertake the all-important office of training the performers.
But we have the evidence of Aristophanes himself, that those in whose names he exhibited his dramas, were poets, like himself, ἑτέροισι ποιηταῖς
1016; comp. Schol.
) : we have already seen that Philonides was a poet of the Old Comedy; and with reference to Callistratus, we have no other information to throw doubt on that contained in the above and other passages of Aristophanes and the grammarians.
The fact, that we have only three titles of plays by Philonides, and none by Callistratus, accords with the view that they were chiefly employed as διδάσκαλοι
of the plays of Aristophanes. We have seen, indeed, that one or two of the grammarians state that they were actors ;
but, with all the evidence on the other side, there can be little doubt that this statement has merely arisen from a mistake as to the meaning of the word διὰ
in the Didascaliae.
That word has its recognized meaning in this connection, and no one hesitates to give it that meaning in the Didascaliae
of the earlier plays : there is no good authority for supposing it to designate the actor : the Didascaliae
were not designed to record the name of the actor, hut that of the poet, whether real or professed; the terms διδάσκαλος, χοροδιδάσκαλος, κωμωδοδιδάσκαλος
, are used as precisely equivalent to ροιητής
and κωμῳδοποιητής :
and the notion that the χοροδιδάσκαλος
and the chief actor could be the same person involves the almost absurd idea of the chief actor's training himself.
The common story about Aristophanes taking upon himself the part of the chief actor in the Knights
is shown by Bergk to be, in all probability, a mere fabrication of some grammarian, who mistook the meaning of ἐδιδάχθη δἰ αὐτοῦ τοῦ Ἀριστοφάνους
in the Didascalia ;
and there is no clear case, after the regular establishment of the drama, in which a poet was at the same time the actor, either of his own plays, or of those of another poet.
There is a curious confirmation of one of the arguments just urged in one of the scholia
on that passage of the Clouds
which has so misled the commentators (Clouds 531),--Δηλονότι ὁ Φιλωνίδης κὰ ὁ Καλλίστρατος, οἱ ὝΣΤΕΡΟΝ γενόμενοι ὑποκριταί τοῦ Ἀριστοφάνους
, the author of which passage evidently inserted ὕστερον
in order to gloss over the absurdity of giving διὰ
different meanings in the Didascaliae
of the earlier and the later plays.
One more question of interest still remains, respecting the knowledge which the Athenian public had of the real author of those plays which appeared under other names, especially in the case of Aristophanes ; concerning which the reader is referred to Bergk l.c.
pp. 930, &c.), who sums up the whole discussion in words to the following effect :--that Aristophanes, through youthful timidity, when he began to write plays, entrusted them to Callistratus ; but afterwards also, even when he had made the experiment of exhibiting in his own name, he still retained his former custom, and generally devolved the task of bringing out the play on Callistratus or Philonides; that both these were poets, and not actors; nor did even Aristophanes himself act the part of Cleon in the Knights ;
that the fame of Aristophanes, though under the name of another, quickly spread abroad; and that it was he himself, and not Callistratus, whom Cleon thrice attacked in the courts of law (p. 939).
Philonides, the comic poet, vs. the Philonides attacked by Aristophanes
Philonides, the comic poet, must not be confounded with a certain Philonides who is attacked as a profligate voluptuary by Aristophanes (Aristoph. Pl. 179
; comp. Schol.
), and other conic poets, such as Nicochares, Theopompus, and Philyllius. (Bergk, Frag. Com. Att. Antiq.