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

3. Parody
Institutions - Council Chamber
Tragedy - Euripides
Oracles Political awards given to Cleon (Satire?). See accompanying sheet for list of different forms of humour.

Character

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.

Paphlagonian
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.

Knights
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
Eventually serious

Demosthenes
Bossy, boosy, self-interested especially since he is Pylos general. 41,42,43, Vulgar.

Nicias
The more timid NB he was very cautious in real life 38, 39, 40.
Portrayed as stock slave characters also.

Slapstick
Plot does not lend itself to much, perhaps
(i) Drinking scene between Demosthenes & Nicias .
(ii) Meal and oracles - much running to and fro.

Puns
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

Logical development to absurd conclusion
Not so frequent in Knights as in other plays but

  1. Competition between SAUSAGE SELLER and Paphlagonian - develops into a comp. of wrestling/fighting cocks p55.
  2. Boats speak - seek asylum where boats could never go.
  3. Knights embark on naval expedition and horses do the rowing.
  4. "Literal" (though a parody) rejuvenation of The people.

Obscenity/Scatalogical

Parody
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

Caricatures

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

Impersonation

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

Visual
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.

R. Battersby