The New International Encyclopædia/Phrynichus

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PHRYNICHUS, frĭn′ĭ-kŭs (Lat., from Gk. Φρύνιχος) A Greek tragic poet of Athens, an older contemporary of Æschylus. He won his first victory in B.C. 511 and his last in 476, when Themistocles was his choragos. Like Æschylus, he is said to have died in Sicily. In all the accounts of the rise and development of the tragedy, Phrynichus is ranked immediately after Thespis, and according to some critics he should be regarded as the real inventor of tragedy. He was the first to bring female characters on the stage; for the light satyr plays of his predecessors, he substituted plays on serious subjects taken both from the heroic age and from the history of his own time; and he was the first to introduce an actor distinct from the leader of the chorus, and thus to open the way for the development of the dialogue. In his works, how- ever, the lyrical choruses still retained the principal place, and these are said to have been so celebrated that they were sung even in the time of Aristophanes. Of his plays, the most import- ant were Φοινίσσαι, which dealt with the defeat of the Persian invaders (B.C. 480), and is said to have been copied by Æschylus in The Persians, and Μιλήτον ἄλωσις, on the capture of Miletus by the Persians. According to Herodotus, the Athenians were so moved by the latter tragedy that they fined the poet one thousand drachmas for recalling to them the disasters of their kinsmen, and passed a law forbidding further performances of the piece. Only a few fragments and the titles of nine of his plays are extant. Consult: Nauck, Tragicorum Græcorum Fragmenta (Leipzig, 1856).