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Political Comedy in Aristophanes

Heath, M. (1987) Political Comedy in Aristophanes. Hypomnemata, 87 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht , Göttingen . ISBN 978-3525251867


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This paper argues that Aristophanic comedy, although it takes contemporary political life as its point of departure, is not political in the sense of aiming to influence politics outside the theatre. Brief discussions of Clouds, Knights, Lysistrata and Acharnians are used to cast initial doubt on interpretations that attribute serious intent to Aristophanes. It is then argued that Aristophanes’ treatment of the poet’s role as adviser, abuse of the audience and of individuals, the themes of rich and poor and the power of the dêmos, support this conclusion. In general, the assumptions of Aristophanes’ comedy are too closely attuned to those of the majority of his audience to warrant inferences about Aristophanes’ own political attitudes. This conclusion throws light on the democracy’s exercise of control over the theatre. An appendix argues that the main unifying element in Aristophanic comedy is not theme, but plot, and that Aristophanes took more care over coherence of plot-structure than is sometimes recognised.

Item Type: Book
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (1987) and Malcolm Heath (2007). Published online under a non-exclusive licence granted by the author.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > Classics (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2008 18:35
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 08:57
Status: Published
Publisher: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3588

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