He was victorious at least once at the City Dionysia, first probably in the mid-440s (IG II2 2325. 56; the fourth entry after Teleclides and three poets whose names have been lost, and just before Hermippus), and twice at the Lenaia, first probably in the mid- to late 430s (IG II2 2325. 122; just after Cratinus and just before Hermippus). He was especially famous for his inventive imagination, and the elegance and purity of his diction are attested by the epithet Ἀττικώτατος (most Attic) applied to him by Athenaeus and the sophist Phrynichus. He was the inventor of a new meter, called after him, the Pherecratean, which frequently occurs in the choruses of Greek tragedies and in Horace. According to an anonymous essay on tragedy, Pherecrates wrote 18 plays, suggesting that one or more of the 19 surviving titles must be eliminated somehow (i.e. by assigning the play to another author who wrote a comedy by the same name, and assuming an ancient scholarly error, or by identifying e.g. The Human Heracles and The Fake Heracles as a single play with multiple titles).
Surviving Titles and Fragments
288 fragments (including six dubia) of his comedies survive, along with the following 19 titles:
- Agathoi ("Good Men")
- Agrioi ("Wild Men," or "Savages")
- Anthropherakles ("The Human Heracles"; possibly the same play as Pseuderakles)
- Automoloi ("Deserters")
- Graes ("Old Women," or "Hags")
- Doulodidaskalos ("The Slave Teacher")
- Epilesmon ("The Forgetful Man") or Thalatta ("The Sea")
- Ipnos ("The Kitchen") or Pannychis (The All-Night Festival")
- Korianno ("Corianno")
- Krapataloi ("Good-For-Nothings")
- Leroi ("Jewelry")
- Metalles ("Miners")
- Metoikoi ("Resident Aliens")
- Myrmekanthropoi ("Ant-Men")
- Persai ("Persians")
- Petale ("Petale")
- Tyrannis ("Tyranny")
- Cheiron ("Chiron")
- Pseuderakles ("The Fake Heracles"; possibly the same play as Anthropherakles)
The standard edition of the fragments and testimonia is in Kassel-Austin, Poetae Comici Graeci VII ; Kock numbers are now outdated and should not be used.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Pherecrates". Encyclopædia Britannica. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Pherecrates". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.