Pherecrates, fr. 164: Mocking Alcibiades (and then Socrates)



“It seems that Alcibiades isn’t yet a man but he’s already a husband to all the ladies.”


οὐκ ὤν ἀνὴρ γὰρ Ἀλκιβιάδης, ὡς δοκεῖ,

ἀνὴρ ἁπασῶν τῶν γυναικῶν ἐστι νῦν…


Pherecrates is another poet of Old Comedy. Making fun of Alcibiades is almost as fun as mocking Socrates


Eupolis, fr. 356


“I hate Socrates too,

that prattling panhandler

who figured out everything

except where he can get someting to eat.”


μισῶ δὲ καὶ Σωκράτην

τὸν πτωχὸν ἀδολέσχην,

ὃς τἆλλα μὲν πεφρόντικεν,

ὁπόθεν δὲ καταφαγεῖν ἔχοι

τούτου κατημέληκεν


Ameipsias, Fr. 7 (Diogenes Laertius, 2.27-28)


“Socrates, the best of men when there are few and the most foolish among the many:

You have come to see us too? You are brave. Where would you get a cloak?

Your appearance is an embarrassment to cobblers everywhere.”


Σώκρατες ἀνδρῶν βέλτιστ᾿ ὀλίγων, πολλῶν δὲ ματαιοταθ᾿, ἥκεις

καὶ σὺ πρὸς ἡμᾶς; καρτερικὸς γ᾿ εἶ. πόθεν ἄν σοι χλαῖνα γένοιτο;

τουτὶ τὸ κακὸν τῶν σκυτότομων κατ᾿ ἐπήρειαν γεγένηται

Pherecrates, Fr. 176 (Photius e 46)


“The gods are always screwing us.”


ἀεί ποθ᾿ ἡμῖν ἐγκιλικίζουσ᾿ οἱ θεοί


The verb ἐγκιλικίζουσ᾿ means “to be mean or treacherous like the Cilicians”. Obviously, the reference is lost on a modern audience. I went colloquial. I thought that “the gods are always messing with us” might be less abrasive, but “screwing” has a nice sense of “meanness” and the double entendre… Any other suggestions?


Who’s Pherecrates? A Comic poet, An old one. And Photius? Not as old or sexy.