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Phrynichus fr. 27 K-A: a pun.

Punning on names was common in Old Comedy. Aristophanes punned on the name of Lamachus, who died at Syracuse ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Acharnians 269-70; cf. 1071). In the same play he made the famous joke, `some went to Kamarina, others to Gela, and some to Katagela'--`an invention of the poet's from the fact that the men's officers laughed at them' (schol. Ar. Ach. 606).(1)

Aristophanes' flair for such jokes may have been rivalled by Phrynichus'.(2) Phrynichus fragment 27 (= schol. Ar. Birds 1297), which refers to the decree of Syrakosios of 415, has provoked much controversy:(3)

[GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

`It seems he passed a decree against satire by name', as Phrynichus says in Monotropos: `Psoriasis on Syrakosios! May it make him a sight, big time, since he took away the people I wanted to satirize.'

Manuscripts and editions print the odd expression [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in various ways: [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Usener, [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] White ... [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] E, [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] V, [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Dindorf. K-A print [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. An unnoticed comic pun sheds light on the problem and helps to vindicate Dindorf's emendation. The sonic imitation in PSOR-EKHOI: SURAKO links a wretched skin disease with Syrakosios' name. In an oral culture, this kind of sonic joke is memorable and can ruin a person's `good name'. The pun thus explains the fragment: Phrynichus' reaction to Syrakosios' decree demonstrates the principle, power, and playful impudence of punning onomastic satire. Even if Syrakosios was not originally among Phrynichus' targets ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), he inadvertently became one by passing the decree.(4)

(1) [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], N. G. Wilson (ed.), Scholia in Aristophanem: Acharnenses et Lysistratam (Groningen, 1975), p. 81. See also the omnipresent puns on the fictitious name Demus in Knights (pp. 211-17, 461,650, 831-3,953, 1111-20, et passim).

(2) The title of one of his plays, `[GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], is uncertain precisely because of his parody of a sophistic etymology from two made-up words: [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ... [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] .../... [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Phrynichus fr. 1 K-A); neither [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] nor [GREEK WORD NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is listed in LSJ. He called a certain Hierokleides `Kolakophorokleides' (fr. 18). In general, wordplay and soundplay were important elements of his style: e.g. [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (3.6), [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (25), [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (33), [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII](63).

(3) M. Radin, `Freedom of speech in ancient Athens', AJP 48 (1927), 215-30; A. Sommerstein, `The decree of Syrakosios', CQ 36 (1987), 101-8; S. Halliwell, `Comic satire and freedom of speech in classical Athens', JHS 111 (1991), 48-70.

(4) I thank Prof. Robert W. Wallace for his assistance with this work.

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Author:Boo, E.L. de
Publication:The Classical Quarterly
Date:Jan 1, 1998
Words:521
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