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.














the women's political organization and settles for the more limited objective of inducing the Athenian and Spartan men to come to terms, upon which the women will be reassimilated into the private spaces of their individual households. The women in Lysistrata do not rehearse in a serious way the kinds of deals on which a truce with Sparta might depend, and it has been doubted whether an immediate resolution of the war was conceivable in the political climate of 411 B.C.15 Early in the year, when

perimeter of the social space. Unmarriageable women assume, by the conventions of New Comedy, the role of courtesan or concubine in lieu of that of wife; ineligible men (when they are not slaves) appear as foreigners, often in the guise of mercenary soldiers. An example is Menander's Shorn Girl, in which a relationship of concubinage between a professional soldier and a foundling is resolved into a regular marital union upon the discovery of the girl's citizen lineage. The tension in the

On this interpretation, which may owe something to Terence's hand, Thais yielded to Thraso out of necessity, but her heart was Phaedria's. At the end of the play, Phaedria has possession of Thais, but this does not alter the contradictory basis of their association. There can, for example, be no question of marriage, both because of Thais' profession and because of her alien status, which absolutely prohibits such a union with a citizen. As a young man still under the authority of his father,

text, see Althusser and Balibar 1970: 16; Smith 1984: 73, 75-82. 169 170 Notes to pages 5-15 11. Bal 1987: 107-8. For the multiplicity of personae inhabiting Dicaeopolis, the protagonist of Aristophanes' Achamians, see Fisher 1993: 44. 12. Macherey 1978: 79-80. Cf. Thompson 1984: 25: "The representation of unity in the context of restricted and mutable social relations thus implies the projection of an 'imaginary community' by means of which 'real' distinctions are portrayed as 'natural/ the

in Schareika 1978: 61-62, remarks that Birds does not "direct the attention of the community towards any desirable policy or decision or any reform of its political habits." 13. Dobrov 1990b: 3-4. 14. See Introduction. Cf. Macherey and Balibar 1981: 80. "The mock/, the real referent 'outside' the discourse which both fiction and realism presuppose, has no function here as a non-literary, non-discursive anchoring point predating the text." 15. Edwards 1990: 54 observes that the "mimetic conception

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