), an Athenian orator and statesman.
He was of good family, being the son of Erasistratus.
The date of his birth is not known, but he was a contemporary of Nicias and Alcibiades. Plutarch (Plut. Alc. 13
) says, that he and Nicias were the only rivals from whom Alcibiades had any thing to fear when he entered upon public life. Phaeax, like Alcibiades, was at the time just rising to distinction. In B. C. 422 Phaeax with two others was sent as an ambassador to Italy and Sicily, to endeavour to induce the allies of the Athenians in that quarter and the other Siceliots to aid the Leontines against the Syracusans.
He succeeded with Camarina and Agrigentum, but his failure at Gela led him to abandon the attempt as hopeless.
In his way back he did some service to the Athenian cause among the states of Italy. (Thuc. 5.4
According to Theophrastus (ap. Plut.) it was Phaeax, and not Nicias, with whom Alcibiades united for the purpose of ostracising Hyperbolus. Most authorities, however, affirmed that it was Nicias. (Plut. i. c. Nic.
In the Lives of the Ten Orators (Andoc.
) there is mention of a contest between Phaeax and Andocides, and a defence of the latter against the former.
It is difficult to say to what period this could have referred. Andocides did not come into notice till after the affair of the mutilation of the Hermae.
Phaeax was of engaging manners, but had no great abilities as a speaker.
According to Eupolis (ap. Plut. Alc. 13
) he was a fluent talker, but quite unable to speak. (Coomp. A. Gellius, N. A.
1.15.) Aristophanes gives a description of his style of speaking (Equit.
1377, &c.), from which we also gather that, on one occasion, he was brought to trial for some capital offence (ἐπ̓ αὐτοφώρῳ κοινό μενος
) and acquitted.
There has been a good deal of controversy respecting the speech against Alcibiades. commonly attributed to Andocides, which Taylor maintained to be the production of Phaeax. Plutarch (Plut. Alc. 13
), according to the opinion of most editors, speaks of an oration against Alcibiades, reported to be the production of Phaeax.
It seems not unlikely that he refers to the very oration which is extant, the passage which he quotes (though not quite accurately) being found in the speech in question, which could not have been written by Andocides, as the author speaks of the rival claim of himself, Nicias, and Alcibiades being decided by ostracism.
There are, however, strong reasons for believing that it is the production of some rhetorician writing in the name of Phaeax.
The style does not at all resemble what the notice in Aristophanes would lead us to expect; and the writer betrays himself by various inaccuracies. If then the speech was written as if by Phaeax, and reliance can be placed on the biographical notices in it (which are in part at least borne out by good authorities), Phaeax was four times put upon his trial for life, and each time was acquitted (§ 8. 36. Comp. Aristoph. l.c.
), and was sent as ambassador to Thessaly, Macedonia, Molossia, and Thesprotia, besides Sicily and Italy, and had gained various prizes, for εὐανδρία
, with the tragic chorus, in the torch race, &c. (Taylor, Lect. Lys.
100.6; Vaickenaer, Advers.
ap. Sluiter, Lect. Arndoc.
p. 17-26 ; Ruhnken, Hist. Cril. Orat. Gr.
Opusc. p. 321, &c. ; Becker, Andokides,
p. 13, &c., 33-108; and especially Meier, Comment. de Andocidis quae vulgo fertur oratione contra Alcibiadem.