3. A comic poet of the Old Comedy (τῶν ἐπιδευτέρων τῆς ἀρχαίας κωμωδίας
), was, according to the most probable statement, the son of Eunomides (Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran.
He first exhibited, according to Suidas, in Ol. 86, B. C. 435, where, however, we should perhaps read Ol. 87, for the anonymous writer on Comedy (p. 29) places him, with Eupolis. at Ol. 87. 3, B. C. 429 (Clinton, F. H.
sub ann.). Nothing more is known of the life of Phrynichus, for the statement of the anonymous writer, that he died in Sicily, refers, in all probability, to the tragic poet (see above), and the story of a scholiast (ad Aristoph. Ran.
700) about his being elected a general, is an error which has been sufficiently exposed by Bentley and Meineke.
Phrvnichus was ranked by the grammarians among the most distinguished poets of the Old Comedy (Anon. de Com.
p. 28), and the elegance and vigour of his extant fragments sustain this judgment. Aristophanes, indeed, attacks him, together with other comic poets, for the use of low and obsolete buffoonery (Ran.
14), but the scholiast on the passage asserts that there was nothing of the sort in his extant plays.
He was also charged with corrupting both language and metre, and with plagiarism; the last of these charges was brought against him by the comic poet Hermippus, in his Φορμόφοροι
(Schol. ad Aristoph. l.c.,
These accusations are probably to be regarded rather as indications of the height to which the rivalry of the comic poets was carried, than as the statement of actual truths. We find Eupolis also charged by Aristophanes with plagiarisms from Phrynichus (Nub.
553). On the subject of metre, we are informed that Phrynichus invented the Ionic a Minore Catalectic
verse, which was named after him (Marius Victor, p. 2542, Putsch; Hephaest. p. 67, Gaisf.) : about another metre, the Trinician,
there is some doubt (see Meineke, pp. 150, 151). His language is generally terse and elegant, but he sometimes uses words of peculiar formation (Meineke, p. 151).
The celebrated grammarian, Didymus of Alexandria, wrote commentaries on Phrynichus, one of which, on the Κρόνος
, is quoted by Athenaeus (ix. p. 371f.).
The number of his comedies is stated by the anonymous writer on comedy (p. 34) at ten; and Suidaa gives the same number of titles, namely, Ἐφιάλτης, Κόννος, Κρόνος, Κωμασταί, Σάτυρυι, Τραγφδοὶ ἢ Ἀπελεύθεροι, Μονότροπος, Μοῦσαι, Μύστης, Προάστριαι
, the subjects of which are fully discussed by Meineke. The Μονότροπος
was acted, with the Birds
of Aristophanes and the Comastae
of Ameipsias, in Ol. 91. 2, B. C. 414, and obtained the third prize; and the Μοῦσαι
was acted, with the Frogs
of Aristophanes and the Cleophon
of Plato, in Ol. 93. 3, B. C. 405, and obtained the second prize. (Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. ii. pp. 483, 484; Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec.
vol. i. pp. 146-160, ii. pp. 580-608; Bergk, Reliq. Com. Att. Ant.
pp. 366, &c.)