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Headword: Φρυνίχου πάλαισμα
Adler number: phi,766
Translated headword: Phrynichus' wrestling-move
Vetting Status: high
This [phrase] is employed against those who engage in unscrupulous and clever devising.[1] Thucydides relates that Phrynichus, general of the Athenians at Samos, when the soldiers were inclined to bring back Alcibiades, Phrynichus professed to the naval commander of the Lacedaimonians that he wanted to betray the army to him. After Alcibiades got the letter and sent it to the Athenians, Phrynichus, who came close to getting killed, writes again to the naval commander about what happened, beseeching him and claiming once again that he would betray the army to him if he were to invade. Having delivered that message he announced to the soldiers that a second letter denouncing him was going to come from Alcibiades and that they should guard against an invasion of enemies to come. When these things happened as he said -- the letter was delivered and the invasion took place -- the soldiers believed that everything, both the current situation and what happened earlier, was brought about by Alcibiades to discredit Phrynichus out of hatred.[2]
And elsewhere Aristophanes [writes]: "by Phrynichus' wrestling-moves,"[3] meaning strategems. For when he was general the Athenians were defeated and many were incensed at him on the grounds that he had betrayed the war effort. [He was a] comic poet, who introduced choruses that engaged in movement and wrestled.[4] He was a general of [the] Athenians; under him many of the tragic poets lost their citizenship-rights.[5] There were four Phrynichuses.
Greek Original:
Φρυνίχου πάλαισμα: αὕτη τέτακται κατὰ τῶν πανούργως καὶ συνετῶς σοφιζομένων. Ἱστορεῖ δὲ Θουκυδίδης, ὅτι Φρύνιχος, στρατηγὸς Ἀθηναίων ἐν Σάμῳ, μελλόντων τῶν στρατιωτῶν κατάγειν Ἀλκιβιάδην, ἐδήλωσε τῷ ναυάρχῳ Λακεδαιμονίων ὁ Φρύνιχος, ὅτι βούλοιτο αὐτῷ προδοῦναι τὸ στράτευμα. λαβόντος δὲ τὴν ἐπιστολὴν Ἀλκιβιάδου καὶ πέμψαντος τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις, παρὰ μικρὸν ἐλθὼν ἀπολέσθαι ὁ Φρύνιχος γράφει πάλιν τῷ ναυάρχῳ τὸ γεγονός, αἰτιώμενος καὶ φάσκων πάλιν αὐτῷ προδώσειν τὸ στράτευμα, εἰ ἐπέλθοι. σημήνας δὲ οὕτω προηγόρευσε τοῖς στρατιώταις, δευτέραν ἥξειν ἐπιστολὴν κατ' αὐτοῦ παρ' Ἀλκιβιάδου: καὶ πολεμίων ἔφοδον ἐσομένων φυλάξασθαι. συμβάντων δὲ οὕτως τούτων καὶ κομισθέντων μὲν τῶν γραμμάτων, γενομένης δὲ τῆς ἐφόδου, ἐπίστευσαν οἱ στρατιῶται πάντα, καὶ τὰ νῦν καὶ τὰ πρότερον, κατὰ τοῦ Φρυνίχου δι' ἔχθραν ὑπὸ Ἀλκιβιάδου γεγενῆσθαι. καὶ αὖθις Ἀριστοφάνης: Φρυνίχου παλαίσμασιν, ἀντὶ τοῦ στρατηγήμασι: στρατηγοῦντος γὰρ αὐτοῦ ἡττήθησαν οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι καὶ πολλοὶ αὐτῷ προσεκρούσθησαν, ὡς προδόντος τὸν πόλεμον. κωμικὸς ποιητής, ὃς κινουμένους τοὺς χοροὺς εἰσῆγε καὶ παλαίοντας. ἦν δὲ στρατηγὸς Ἀθηναίων, ἐφ' οὗ πολλοὶ τῶν τραγικῶν ἄτιμοι ἐγένοντο. γεγόνασι δὲ Φρύνιχοι τέσσαρες.
The headword phrase, generated by one in Aristophanes (see below), became proverbial. Adler cites Gaisford's edition of Paroemiographi Graeci 882 for the first paragraph of the entry; and see also next note.
[1] There are two similar entries in the epitomes of Diogenianus in Leutsch and Schneidewin's edition of Paroemiographi Graeci: vol. 1 8.29 and vol. 2 3.80.
[2] A summary of events narrated in Thucydides 8.50-51. For Alcibiades see generally alpha 1280.
[3] Aristophanes, Frogs 688. (The Suda's 'elsewhere' suggests a lack of comprehension about the relationship between this passage and the preceding material.) Some, but not all, of the commentary that follows finds parallels in the scholia thereto, and some has already been presented at pi 62.
[4] See also phi 763, phi 767. This playwright Phrynichus -- OCD(4) s.v. no.2 -- is not the same as the crafty general, who comes back into the frame in the next sentence.
[5] The τραγικῶν "of the tragic poets" transmitted here (and at pi 62 and in some versions of the scholion) is problematic. Some of the mss here have στρατηγῶν "of the generals" and a modern alternative suggestion is πολιτῶν "of the citizens". Either way, the allusion is to Phrynichus' role in the oligarchy of the 400.
Keywords: athletics; biography; chronology; comedy; definition; ethics; geography; historiography; history; imagery; law; military affairs; poetry; politics; stagecraft; tragedy
Translated by: William Hutton on 5 February 2014@18:07:46.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (added cross-reference) on 6 February 2014@01:17:45.
David Whitehead (augmented and expanded notes; tweaks and cosmetics; raised status) on 6 February 2014@05:14:00.
William Hutton (tweaked n.3) on 6 February 2014@10:48:07.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 7 August 2014@04:03:11.


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