HUMOUR IN THE KNIGHTS 357
1. Political Allegory
Demos is master of a household and politicians are his slaves; not carried out consistently (see Dover p93.) domestic and political allegory exist side by side. "Appeal to the Assembly" goes right outside domestic. Allegory wholly discarded in final scene.
2. Political Satire
- Satire on aristocratic pride. SAUSAGE SELLER vaunts his low birth. This is an inversion of the norm.
- Knights are aristocrats and here they support totally Thepeople. Later there was an oligarchic coup 411 and 404 but at this time they could not have been seen as anti-People. The Knights wear their hair long - symbol of aristocratic way of life. They train in the palaestra, the SAUSAGE SELLER trained in the Market place. The war caused increased hardship to all Athenians but impoverished nobleman were considered to be natural supporters of a tyrant. See Paphlagonian's. constant references to conspiracies "Everyone who was noble was a pederast, Sausage Seller becomes a lover of The People". (Comedy over-emphasising sexual matters.)
- Satire on politicians trying to out-do each other etc. See SAUSAGE SELLER and Paphlagonian.
- Topical References.
Institutions - Council Chamber
Tragedy - Euripides
Oracles Political awards given to Cleon (Satire?). See accompanying sheet for list of different forms of humour.
Sausage Seller Language ) P42, 74,80 Behaviour ) Dominates the action and audience view of play Attitudes )
(i) Inversion of aristocratic norm to make a political point.
(ii) Not consistent - Incapable of understanding oracles - interprets them more cleverly than Paphlagonian.
(iii) Claims to be the biggest rogue but wins by being the most honest.
(iv) Note similarly his "political" transformation in last scene - reassures Thepeople.
Comic stock "sneak" and nasty; amusing because he is so transparent.
(i) How long does it take to realise it is Cleon?
(ii) Confidence in his ability - he loses everything.
(iii) Bombastic in his use of language and threats - indictments, conspiracies.
Dramatic entrance - on horses.
Hooray Henries but gain in stature throughout the play. See introductory note about political implications. "Many elements in the play e.g. Chorus of Knights designed to promote a sentimental unity of Sausage Seller against Cleon".
Humour of talking horses
Bossy, boosy, self-interested especially since he is Pylos general. 41,42,43, Vulgar.
The more timid NB he was very cautious in real life 38, 39, 40.
Portrayed as stock slave characters also.
Plot does not lend itself to much, perhaps
(i) Drinking scene between Demosthenes & Nicias .
(ii) Meal and oracles - much running to and fro.
Many and varied.
Names Agoracritus Pylos upon Pylos Names for Athena p.79 Names for invoking the Gods p.60 Frontis/Bakis p74, 76 Bigholia End of play: Flogging his guts out.
Inappropriate use of language
SAUSAGE SELLER speaks poorly from the start ...when he uses high-flown language it is very amusing. NB
- Use of judicial language p.47
- Use of oracular language
- Use of language of Tragedy p81
Logical development to absurd conclusion
Not so frequent in Knights as in other plays but
- Competition between SAUSAGE SELLER and Paphlagonian - develops into a comp. of wrestling/fighting cocks p55.
- Boats speak - seek asylum where boats could never go.
- Knights embark on naval expedition and horses do the rowing.
- "Literal" (though a parody) rejuvenation of The people.
- SAUSAGE SELLER often resorts to this but chorus also include references.
- Demosthenes and Nicias p.37, 38.
- The People p.88 (though not much here)
Parody of law courts/Council
Language Oracles 43, 74/75 Invocation of Gods and Athena Recipe p.44
Much literary parody Pindar/Simonides 52/ p.85 Pindar
Tragedy -much parody of Euripides not NB p.56 Ref. to Cratinus' songs
The Knights Middle Class concerned for themselves and their appearance; don't like upstarts. Paphlagonian Concerned for himself; a bully but inevitably cowardly. SAUSAGE SELLER Real "go-getter", "quick talker" quick -thinker. Thepeople Easily taken in; only interested in creature comforts. Note diplomatic transformation NB p.78 chorus " Ah, now I see your cunning ways your cleverness deserves all praise." Nicias Rather wet, good stooge figure. Good Timing See arrival of SAUSAGE SELLER
Paphlagonian of Cleon (NB ref to mask) Nicias ) masks Demosthenes ) gestures? personalities?
a) Political/Topical Jokes
Many references to "tanner" (48,62,65,69) Dog - Cleon
Pylos p.51 , 38. Peace- Treaties; Taxation; Pay for rowers, jury-men, tribute, Dining rights.
b ) Historical figures
For adverse comparison regarding modern politican Miltiades, Themistocles, Aristides, Pericles.
c) Refs to currently trendy/unpopular figures
CLEISTHENES POETS - MAGNES etc CLEONYMUS p.72 INFORMERS p.54 HYPERBOLUS p.84 ARIGNOTUS p.84 CRATINUS p.52 (incontinent) Conspiracies/Refs to tyrants and their supporters.
d) Bribery of officials and by the allies - Miletus Mytilene. Cleon on Accounting Day.
Knights a v. political comedy
· Rejuvenation of The People. · Appearance of Paphlagonian.
NB p.44 Ref to mask
· Knights arrival on horseback .
Peace -Treaties- ridiculous.
Footnote. Foreigners usually = Allies etc. Resident -Foreigner/ Alien = Metic = foreigners who lived in Athens, contributed to economy but not Citizens of Athens.