chapter  14
9 Pages


In Athens during that period a new generation of playwrights had come to the fore, whose appearance provoked the rapid decline-within the period 428-424-of the poets who had dominated the contests of the Lenaia and of the Dionysia for the previous ten years. Phrynichos made his début in 429 and won the Lenaian contest in 428. Eupolis made his début at 17 years of age in 429, and won the Lenaian contest in 426 and the Dionysian in 424. Aristophanes made his début, at an equally tender age, in 427 and distinguished himself: with Acharnians at the Lenaia of 425, with an unknown comedy at the Dionysia of 425 and at the Lenaia again with Knights in 424. Until then, no new poet had succeeded in overthrowing the supremacy of the old and mature masters such as Kratinos, Telekleides, Pherekrates and Hermippus. After 424, however, it was extremely rare for the latter to emerge. The great Kratinos, whom Aristophanes defeated with Acharnians and Knights, distinguished himself with the Bottle over Ameipsias’ Konnos and Aristophanes’ Clouds at the Dionysia of 423. Subsequently, however, as an analysis of the marble lists of the winning poets makes perfectly clear, the surviving old and mature masters (Kratinos died shortly after 423) won at most a couple of times. In Knights, Aristophanes justly distinguishes himself, after his two consecutive victories in 425, from the old, once fortunate generation of poets.