The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Attic Comedy

The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Attic Comedy

Jeffrey Henderson

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: B001G60F34

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The pervasive and unrestrained use of obscenity has long been acknowledged as a major feature of fifth-century Attic Comedy; no other Western art form relies so heavily on the sexual and scatological dimensions of language. This acclaimed book, now in a new edition, offers both a comprehensive discussion of the dynamics of Greek obscenity and a detailed commentary on the terminology itself.

After contrasting the peculiar characteristics of the Greek notion of obscenity to modern-day ideas, Henderson discusses obscenity's role in the development of Attic Comedy, its historical origins, varieties, and dramatic function. His analysis of obscene terminology sheds new light on Greek culture, and his discussion of Greek homosexuality offers a refreshing corrective to the idealized Platonic view. He also looks in detail at the part obscenity plays in each of Aristophanes' eleven surviving plays. The latter part of the book identifies all the obscene terminology found in the extant examples of Attic Comedy, both complete plays and fragments. Although these terminological entries are arranged in numbered paragraphs resembling a glossary, they can also be read as independent essays on the various aspects of comic obscenity. Terms are explained as they occur in each individual context and in relation to typologically similar terminology. With newly corrected and updated philological material, this second edition of Maculate Muse will serve as an invaluable reference work for the study of Greek drama.















(or bridges) to mock those in the procession. Al46. schol. Luc. Eun. 2. See Pickard-Cambridge (n. 44, above), pp. 5, 12, 17, 24, 34, 38; Farnell (n. 36, above), 5: 212. 47. Men. 396; Dem. Cor. 11 (with schol. which equates with at 124). 48. AB 1.316; Lyd. Mens. 4.56. 49. Schol. Eq. 546; D. H. 7.27, in comparing the ceremonies surrounding the Roman triumph with the processions of wagons in the Dionysiac cults, adds that in his own day they sang improvised , perhaps implying that in earlier days

ancient literature both in character and in social context, it derived its license from the openness of the Periclean polis and the traditional freedoms allowed by the cults, from which its sole literary models, the Ionian iambic poets, also drew inspiration. To equate (and thus explain away) the obscenity of Old Comedy, which attained a level of sophistication and functionality equal to any other aspect of the comic poet's art, with the hypothetical buffooneries of Dorian farce or the genial

pounding (313), smacking (314), stabbing (304, 312, 315, 316), grating (322), twisting around (329, 338), pressing (334), wounding (339), and so forth. The female genitals are of course represented by all such objects as share their characteristic of enclosing a hollow area or taking something into itself; naturally, these are perceived as static and passive but almost always contain the concomitant idea of entry by the phallic object. These can be natural features like holes, pits, hollows, or

(section 75, above) is agricultural and based on the notion of driving down into, , an obscene metaphor at Antiphanes 300, probably derives from metallurgy (see LS s.v. III). 262. , to serve as a marine or embark on a ship (Hdt. 7.96, Th. 3.95), is used in a pederastic joke at R 48, where Dionysus says that he 51 was "in service with Cleisthenes" 1205 f.). With compare R 95. plays on the meaning "fill up (sexually)" (LS s.v. III.2, at Xenarch. 1.10, at Pherecr. 145.28). For see section 55, above.

1289, where Cleon seems not only to be giving Aristophanes a hard time but buggering him as well.103 We may compare cunt-chafer, used by Bdely104 cleon at V 1364 to insult his amorous old father, and 329. , bend or twist (in lovemaking), of forceful rape in Pherecr. 145.15, 28. Compare , any twisting or turning, used of a mode of sexual congress at P 904 (cf. Lat. metae) and Pherecr. 145.9 (musical "turns"). 330. is synonymous in comedy with fornication because of the reputation of Corinth for

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