Of Sinope on the south coast of the Black Sea, brother of Diodorus of Sinope, New Comedy poet, born c.360–350bc, lived most of his life at Athens, but died in Smyrna probably at the beginning of the 3rd cent. (the reference to him in Plaut. Mostell. 1149 is useless for establishing his death date: see M. Knorr, Das griechische Vorbild der Mostellaria des Plautus (1934), 7 f.). He wrote about 100 plays, winning three victories in the Lenaean festival at Athens (IG 22. 2325. 163 = 5 C 1 col. 4, 12 Mette). Some 60 titles are known, mostly typical of New Comedy; the nine or so with a mythical connection (e.g. Danaides, Theseus) need not all have been mythological burlesques: some could have taken their titles from a man aping a hero of myth (cf. Ath. 10. 421e on Heracles), others from a divine prologue (e.g. Heros). An unusual title is Hairēsiteichēs (‘Wall-capturer’), which was altered to Stratiōtēs (‘Soldier’) when the play was rewritten, presumably for a second production (Ath. 11. 496f: the two titles appear as separate entries in the Piraeus book catalogue, IG 22. 2363 = test. 6 KA). Diphilus' reference to ‘gilded Euripides’ (fr. 60 KA and Kock: cf. the parody in fr. 74 KA = 73 K) suggests gentle ridicule mingled with admiration. There are many interesting frs.: 17 KA and K, the nationality of the guests is important to a cook (cf. 42 KA = 43 K); 37 KA = 38 K, the unfilial conduct of Ctesippus, son of Chaereas; 70 and 71 KA = 69 and 70 K, Archilochus and Hipponax anachronistically Sappho's lovers; 91 KA and K, a lively description of an unattractive woman.
A play by Diphilus was the original of Plautus' Rudens; his Klēroumenoi (‘Men Casting Lots’) of Plautus' Casina; Synapothnēskontes (‘Men Dying Together’) of Plautus' lost Commorientes (Terence, in the Adelphoe, used a scene omitted by Plautus: cf. Ad. 6); and possibly Schedia (‘Raft’) of Plautus' Vidularia. Although Diphilus' originals may have been completely remodelled by Plautus, certain characteristics common to all the Roman adaptations can doubtless be attributed to the Greek poet: a delight in lively theatrical effects, with clearly contrasted scenes and characterization perhaps less sensitive than that of Menander.
William Geoffrey Arnott
Subjects: Classical Studies.