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Headword: Θέσπις
Adler number: theta,282
Translated headword: Thespis
Vetting Status: high
Of Ikarion, a city of Attica.[1] [He was] a tragic poet, 16th after the first writer of tragedies Epigenes of Sicyon, but some [say] the second after Epigenes;[2] others say that he was the first tragedian. At first he performed having rubbed his face with white lead, then he covered [his face] with purslane in his performance,[3] and after that he also introduced the use of masks made solely from linen.[4] He produced his plays in the 61st Olympiad.[5] He is remembered for his plays The [funeral] games of Pelias or [The] Phorbas, The Priests, The Youths, Pentheus.[6]
Greek Original:
Θέσπις, Ἰκαρίου, πόλεως Ἀττικῆς, τραγικὸς ι#2# ἀπὸ τοῦ πρώτου γενομένου τραγῳδιοποιοῦ Ἐπιγένους τοῦ Σικυωνίου τιθέμενος, ὡς δέ τινες δεύτερος μετὰ Ἐπιγένην: ἄλλοι δὲ αὐτὸν πρῶτον τραγικὸν γενέσθαι φασί. καὶ πρῶτον μὲν χρίσας τὸ πρόσωπον ψιμυθίῳ ἐτραγῴδησεν, εἶτα ἀνδράχνῃ ἐσκέπασεν ἐν τῷ ἐπιδείκνυσθαι, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα εἰσήνεγκε καὶ τὴν τῶν προσωπείων χρῆσιν ἐν μόνῃ ὀθόνῃ κατασκευάσας. ἐδίδαξε δὲ ἐπὶ τῆς πρώτης καὶ ξ# ὀλυμπιάδος. μνημονεύεται δὲ τῶν δραμάτων αὐτοῦ Ἆθλα Πελίου ἢ Φόρβας, Ἱερεῖς, Ἠί̈θεοι, Πενθεύς.
R.A.S. Seaford in OCD(4) s.v.; and see also theta 283.
[1] Ikarion (also called Ikaria) was one of the demes of Attica whose pre-classical history and stature led it often -- after as well as before Kleisthenes -- to be termed a "city", polis. For Ikarion as the place where both tragedy and comedy were said to have originated see e.g. Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 2.40A-B [2.11 Kaibel]; and generally D. Whitehead, The Demes of Attica (Princeton 1986) index s.v.
[2] R.A.S. Seaford in OCD(4) s.v. Epigenes(1). (epsilon 2262 is a later Athenian homonym.)
[3] According to Pickard-Cambridge [below] 76 the meaning here is that Thespis hung the strung flowers of the herb purslane over his face as a disguise.
[4] "But what the words 'in linen alone' mean is uncertain; they may mean 'of linen only, not of cork or wood', or 'of linen without paint or colouring', or 'of linen without any stiffening'." Pickard-Cambridge [below] 79.
[5] 536/5-533/2.
[6] See Heraclides 150 Schutrumpf for discussion of the possibility that these plays were forged by Heraclides of Pontus.
A.W. Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy, 2nd ed. rev. T.B.L. Webster. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962, pp.69-89
Keywords: biography; botany; chronology; clothing; comedy; epic; geography; history; mythology; poetry; religion; stagecraft; trade and manufacture; tragedy
Translated by: Tony Natoli on 16 April 2001@18:25:09.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modified translation and note; cosmetics) on 22 April 2001@06:36:27.
David Whitehead (added x-ref; restorative and other cosmetics) on 20 December 2002@03:06:54.
David Mirhady (updated ref.) on 2 September 2008@18:43:02.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaking) on 2 January 2013@04:39:22.
David Whitehead on 2 January 2013@04:40:39.
David Whitehead (updated 2 refs) on 5 August 2014@07:09:01.
David Whitehead (expanded a ref) on 15 January 2015@07:42:45.


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