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Biographies (4)

Ancient comedy playwrites


  Respecting Phormis we fortunately possess some very important facts. In the first place, like Epicharmus he was neither a born Megarian nor even a Sicilian, and was most certainly not a Dorian, for we know from Pausanias that he was a native of Maenalus in Arcadia, that from thence he emigrated to Sicily to the court of Gelon, son of Deinomenes, and that by distinguishing himself in the campaign of that king and afterwards in those of his brother Hieron, he attained to such wealth that he was able to set up certain dedications at Olympia seen there by Pausanias, and others also at Delphi. Those at Olympia were statues of two horses, each with a groom beside it. There were also three statues of Phormis himself in a row, confronting in each case a foeman. The legend on these set forth that they were dedicated by Lycortas of Syracuse, apparently a friend and admirer. Like Aeschylus, the true founder of Attic tragedy, and Cyril Tourneur, one of the most potent spirits of the Elizabethan drama, Phormis was thus a soldier as well as a dramatist. Indeed, in view of the fact that the Arcadians in every age went forth in considerable numbers from their native mountains, like the Highlanders of Scotland, to take service with any one who wanted a man who could wield a good spear and draw a good sword, it was probable in such a capacity that Phormis went to seek and found his fortune at the court of Gelon. According to Suidas he became a member of that monarch's household and tutor to his children, and wrote eight comedies--Admetus, Alcinous, The Fall of Ilium, Perseus, Cepheus or Cephaleia, Alcyones, Hippus and Atalanta. From their names it is obvious that his plays were all burlesque of familiar epic and tragic themes, not excepting that on his own national heroine, Atalanta. He was the first who arrayed a (comic) actor in a robe reaching to the feet, and employed a background (skene) adorned with skins dyed red. The use in Comedy for the first time of long dignified robes was probably, like the plot, a consequence of the burlesquing of heroic themes.

Alfred Bates, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the TheatreHistory URL below.

...Among them are those dedicated by the Maenalian Phormis. He crossed to Sicily from Maenalus to serve Gelon the son of Deinomenes. Distinguishing himself in the campaigns of Gelon and afterwards of his brother Hieron, he reached such a pitch of prosperity that he dedicated not only these offerings at Olympia, but also others dedicated to Apollo at Delphi. The offerings at Olympia are two horses and two charioteers, a charioteer standing by the side of each of the horses. The first horse and man are by Dionysius of Argos, the second are the work of Simon of Aegina. On the side of the first of the horses is an inscription, the first part of which is not metrical. It runs thus:
Phormis dedicated me, An Arcadian of Maenalus, now of Syracuse.
...Among these offerings is Phormis himself opposed to an enemy, and next are figures of him fighting a second and again a third. On them it is written that the soldier fighting is Phormis of Maenalus, and that he who dedicated the offerings was Lycortas of Syracuse. Clearly this Lycortas dedicated them out of friendship for Phormis. These offerings of Lycortas are also called by the Greeks offerings of Phormis. The Hermes carrying the ram under his arm, with a helmet on his head, and clad in tunic and cloak, is not one of the offerings of Phormis, but has been given to the god by the Arcadians of Pheneus. The inscription says that the artist was Onatas of Aegina helped by Calliteles, who I think was a pupil or son of Onatas.

This extract is from: Pausanias. Description of Greece (ed. W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., & H.A. Ormerod, 1918). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


Hieronymus and Eucampidas

Maenalians, founders of Megalopolis (Paus. 8.27.2)

Eucampidas, (Eukampidas), less properly Eucalpidas (Eukalpidas), an Arcadian of Maenalus, is mentioned by Demosthenes as one of those who, for the sake of private gain, became the instruments of Philip of Macedon in sapping the independence of their country. Polybius censures Demosthenes for his injustice in bringing so sweeping a charge against a number of distinguished men, and defends the Arcadians and Messenians in particular for their connexion with Philip At the worst, he says, they are chargeable only with an error of judgment, in not seeing what was best for their country; and he thinks that, even in this point, they were justified by the result, --as if the result might not have been different, had they taken a different course. (Dem. de Cor.; Polyb. xvii. 14.) Eucampidas is mentioned by Pausanias (viii. 27) as one of those who led the Maenalian settlers to Megalopolis, to form part of the population of the new city, B. C. 371.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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