Greek Comedy and Ideology

Greek Comedy and Ideology

David Konstan

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0195092945

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In comedy, happy endings resolve real-world conflicts. These conflicts, in turn, leave their mark on the texts in the form of gaps in plot and inconsistencies of characterization. Greek Comedy and Ideology analyzes how the structure of ancient Greek comedy betrays and responds to cultural tensions in the society of the classical city-state. It explores the utopian vision of Aristophanes' comedies--for example, an all-powerful city inhabited by birds, or a world of limitless wealth presided over by the god of wealth himself--as interventions in the political issues of his time. David Konstan goes on to examine the more private world of Menandrean comedy (including two adaptations of Menander by the Roman playwright Terence), in which problems of social status, citizenship, and gender are negotiated by means of elaborately contrived plots. In conclusion, Konstan looks at an imitation of ancient comedy by MoliƩre, and the way in which the ideology of emerging capitalism transforms the premises of the classical genre.
















final scenes of the play. After he has been cured of his mania for jury duty, Philocleon joins, at his son's invitation, a drinking party or symposium at which prominent public figures are gathered, and disrupts it by his rowdy behavior. John Vaio has shown how references to costume, manners, riddles and wine, music and dance generate a contrast over the play between the humble lives of jurors and the symposia to which "a larger part of the social life of the nobles was devoted."47 Thomas Banks

reading that would associate figures in the drama with specific social referents. In this respect, Birds differs from Wasps, where the jurors and the courts to which they are devoted signify a recognizable social class and the institutional expression of its power. There too, as we have seen, Philocleon and the chorus of jurors are complex and multiply determined. In Birds, however, the crisscrossing configurations of Cloudcuckooland scramble the allusive pattern more completely. But this is not

"35 Lysistrata clinches the identification when she declares that the women will be remembered among the Greeks as Lysimaches, once Eros and Aphrodite have worked their magic (551-54). Jeffrey Henderson remarks, "there are no earlier examples of a female protagonist like Lysistrata," and he adds: "Greek tradition contains no parallel to the organized defiance of Lysistrata and her comrades."36 But if Lysistrata is rebellious, she is simultaneously accommodating. 60 Aristophanic Comedy She

121, 123, 127, 136); despite the phrase topon apragmona (troublefree place, 44), there is no suggestion of a pastoral ideal. When Alink 1983: 317 says that Pisthetaerus and Euelpides "are looking for another, non-city-like place to live," this is so only in the sense that they desire a place free of the litigiousness that accompanies city life, at all events in Athens. Heberlein 1980: 27-37 distinguishes the protagonists of Aristophanes' Utopian plays, such as Birds, from the farmerheroes of the

dramatic structure of the play. The sycophant had been presented a moment before as an unjust figure, who deservedly lost his possessions when Plutus regained his sight. But he is also, as we have seen, hostile to the entire order of Plutus in which wealth creates the possibility of leisure and contentment. He is thus in opposition to Plutus in two respects: he is unjust, and by nature he is unsuited to the god's new golden age. 10. An ironic interpretation of Wealth has been developed by a

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