A comical pair enter the Orchestra. Dionysus, the god, is an ungodly sight, for over his own usual, rather effeminate yellow tunic he wears the formidable lion-skin of Herakles and he holds the club of Herakles in his delicate hands. His slave, Xanthias, carries a heavy load of baggage over his shoulder, and is riding on a donkey. They are clearly prepared for a long journey. But Aristophanes leaves the audience to wonder for a while where these two are going. Meanwhile he exploits some well seasoned jokes about porters carrying baggage, and introduces a short parody of sophistic argument .
I like that The "pressure" joke having been thoroughly exhausted, A. now introduces a parody of contemporary Sophists' arguments about the meaning of words. Should a slave who carries a load while seated on a donkey be described as "carrying" or "being carried"? The fallacy is, of course, that of the exclusive either/or: in fact Xanthias both carrying and being carried. .
This is where. ...The pair, who have probably been going slowly forward during their argument, now come to a door in the skene building, and stop. The audience do not know whose house it is meant to be until Herakles appears.
A lion-skin over a yellow nightdress . The yellow tunic was worn by participants in Dionysiac festivals, by women, by effeminate men and by members of royal houses. The cothurnos, or high heeled boot, was a loose boot worn by women and travellers (as it protected the foot better than a sandal) and by Dionysus. The large club is characteristically carried by Dionysus. The contrast is ultimately between the soft, luxurious costume of D. and that of the rugged arduous H.
like a lot of swallows; A parody of Euripides' Alcmene. The Greeks thought the twitter of swallows barbarous confused and garrulous.
are granted a chorus i.e. are selected by the Eponymous Archon as worthy of being granted actors and a chorus for a production of their play. Only five authors (or three during the Peloponnesian War) were chosen for this out of probably many competitors. A feeble poet, D. implies, would be satisfied with this preliminary offer and never try again.
Potter's Quarter. NW of the Acropolis and the agora, described by Thucydides as the most beautiful suburb of Athens. The "tower" is probably that of Timon the misanthrope. Visible apparently was the start of the torch race. Ritual torch races were held at Athens in honour of Athene and other divinities.
Ah, but that's a long trip. In the next 26 lines we have a comic parody of what might be called Hades-geography. Before the time of A. there had been a lot of speculation about the topography of the underworld in poetry (e.g.. Odyssey 11). in myth (e.g. the descents of Herakles, Theseus and Orpheus and in religious thought (notably the Orphic and Eleusinian rites).
After that you'll hear. Heracles now describes the pleasanter parts of Hades. Here too A. is probably drawing on Orphic or Eleusinian beliefs. The Athenians were specially proud of the luminosity of the atmosphere in Attica. The hand-clapping primarily refers to those in Hades who clap their hands to keep time for the happy mystical groups of dancers; but it also hints at the applause A. hopes to win for his play.
p. 162 ACTION.
Here A. introduces a brilliantly conceived incidental scene which helps to make the audience understand that D and X are now really on their way to Hades. Some mourners enter carrying a corpse on a funeral bier. X suggests that the dead man (as he too is obviously going to Hades) might be hired to carry the baggage. An amusing piece of bargaining follows.
ACTION. The corpse and his carriers pass on. D and X trudge in silence round the orchestra. Charon the ferryman of the dead appears in his boat, indicating that D and X have reached the bank of Styx (or Acheron). A dialogue (with some arguing as usual) follows.
Charon was a familiar figure in classical literature and art; so too in Etruscan art and in later European literature; also in modern Greek folklore. Probably the nautical phrases which are his first words are not addressed to anyone in particular, but are introduced by A. to help to identify Charon. In vase-painting Charon sometimes rows or punts his own boat, sometimes not.
p. 163 ACTION.
X. sets out on his lonely tour round the infernal lake. Charon orders D aboard. D, being unused to boats makes a stupid mistake. Doubtless in production the actor took this opportunity for much comic business.
p. 164 ACTION.
The famous Frogs' chorus (which though lasting only 60 lines gave the play its title) begins. There is dispute about whether the Frogs were seen or not. Either way A. exploits some skilful rhythmic effects in the chorus, as the Frogs try to make D. row faster and he tries to make the speed slow down. Besides the variation in rhythm we should also assume that the volume and speed were also varied in the original production, but the surviving text contains no indication of this. During the chorus D. presumably does some very irregular and comical effects of oarsmanship in Charon's boat. Much of the delight for the original audience will have arisen from the fact that they themselves knew a great deal about rowing. The marsh was probably represented by the orchestra: X. runs round the outside edge of it.
Of the marshes and bogs At Athens every year during the month Anthesterion (approximately February) the festival of the Anthesteria was celebrated in the precinct of Dionysus "in the marshes" (the exact site of this is much disputed). The Anthesteria was mainly concerned with the previous season's wine but included certain cults of the dead. It lasted for three days: on the first was the opening of the wine casks, on the second the pouring of libations and lavish sampling of the wine, on the third the sealing of the wine jars with offerings and prayers to the dead. A general mood of revelling and tipsiness seems to have prevailed.
blisters on my bum. As amateur oarsmen soon learn it is not only the hands that get sore in rowing. Experienced Greeks sat on a cushion.
p. 167 ACTION.
Charon and his boat now go off the scene, and, as indicated at 273ff we are to imagine that D and X are entering the fearsome realm of Hades. X amusingly exhibits D's cowardice by pretending that a horrible spectre is in sight. Arist. exploits a favourite comic device: when D asks X whether he saw (on his way round the lake/orchestra) the father-beaters and perjurers that Heracles was talking about, X points towards the audience.
167-8 Ar. caricatures the average Athenian's fears of ghosts. The best known bogies were Lamia (subject of a comedy by Crates: she could take her eyes out and put them back again), Ephialtes (the demon of nightmares), Epialos (demon of cold shivering), Mormo, and Empousa, who, as described here, could change her appearance and traditionally had a donkey's leg.
Heracles old man... X slyly reminds D of the part he is supposed to be playing, perhaps with a hint of the cult of "Heracles Who Wads Off Evil" (alexikakos). Why does D not Want his own name to be spoken? Perhaps because of the widespread belief that if a demon or ghost knows your name (s)he has greater power over you. In parts of Africa people for a similar reason have a public name for general use and a private name which they are careful to keep secret from any enemy.
Hegelochus . Hegelochos was a protagonist in the first production of Euripides' Orestes. Unfortunately at a crucial moment in the play he mispronounced a word with ludicrous effect (he read "calmness" as "ferrets") .
ACTION. X now hears the sound of a flute (note that the text contains one of the very rare Greek stage directions "someone plays the flute from inside") ; and he smells the smoke of torches. They assume that these indicate the coming of the Mystic Initiates whom Heracles mentioned. The sound of the Iacchos cry confirms this. They crouch down out of the way while the Chorus enters in the Parodos.
Iacchos was a minor divinity associated with the Athenian Dionysiac processions. His name was originally perhaps derived from the verb to shout. According to legend he was son of Demeter or Persephone. [Others regard Iacchos as a mystic name for Dionysus Toss your head Vigorous movements of the head are a feature of 5th century vase paintings of Bacchic followers. Maenad
ACTION. The chorus now appears carrying torches. It seems to have represented women and girls (who were apparently led by the torch-bearer), as well as men (who were apparently led by the Coryphaios representing the Hierophant of the Mysteries) . Just how the singing of the lyrics was apportioned is a mystery (ha-ha! Get it?). Some editors think that a double chorus of 48 members was employed, the female half leaving after line 446, but this hardly squares with the current economising in theatre expenses.
Aged knees A feeling of rejuvenation and of liberation from anxiety is often mentioned as a feature of Dionysiac influence, whether mystical or simply as a result of wine-drinking.
Sing now and let ..Now comes a solemn processional song, to which the chorus slowly marches round the orchestra.
At distinguished bystanders ..Editors generally refer this to the ritual abuse and mockery exchanged by pilgrims and bystanders at the bridge (or causeway) over the river Kephisos on the Sacred Way from Athens to Eleusis. But similar jests and taunts were a feature of the Lenaea and Anthesteria, and were perhaps in popular procession a general apotropaic rite (ie. to turn away evil spirits).
ACTION. As D and X move forward to the door of Pluto's house the chorus sings.
ACTION. D and X have now arrived at the door of Pluto's house where an alarming encounter with Aeacus awaits them. D, who has lost his confidence in knocking at doors, hesitates and wonders how he can best imitate the local custom. X, always quick to detect any failure of nerve in his master, brusquely advises him to knock without delay. A characteristically irascible doorkeeper come out and abuses D. In all MSS except one this character is called Aeacus. The other MS calls him "a servant" (therapon). Perhaps this was due to a reluctance to have a great hero and one of the three great judges of the dead acting a menial part. But this objection is not valid for comic burlesque: Hermes plays a similar role and uses some identical language in Peace: so too St. Peter in Christian humour. Besides some parody of Euripides' (or Critias') Peirithous (in which Aeacus met Heracles in Hades) may be intended in this scene.
Ah, so it's you. .Aeacus, deceived by D's lion-skin, takes him for Heracles (who had once stolen his watchdog Cerberus) and pours out a wonderful flood of picturesque abuse (perhaps spoken at high speed in a grim, rasping voice).
The Tartessian lamprey A brilliant Aristophanic medley of terror and triviality. "Tartessian" means "from Tartessos" (a town in Spain famous for its good eels, a delicacy for Athenian tables). But in this context the word also suggests Tartaros, the deepest part of the Underworld. So too "lamprey" combines delectable with terrifying associations. As a. food it was considered a delicacy; but in the water it was known to be a dangerous, greedy creature liable to attack divers. It might be more accurate to translate the Greek word by "moray eel".
The Tithrasian Gorgons Another mixture of the terrible and the trivial. The hideous and dreadful Gorgon sisters of Greek legend are ludicrously called Tithrasian, from the Attic deme celebrated for dried figs, and perhaps for ugly, scolding women.
An involuntary libation Aeacus' abuse alarms D so much that his already disturbed bowels again react to his terror. Some comic business follows with the sponge (normally used instead of toilet paper, but also for relieving pain -cf. the modern footballers). What is especially astonishing for modern readers is the way Ar. comically distorts a religious phrase to fit the context. The regular formula for pouring a libation was ekkechutai: kalei theos --"The libation is poured: call the god". But D says enkechoda: kalei theos -" I've shat myself; call the god". (There is also another distorted phrase in the Greek, though it doesn't appear in the translation.)
ACTION. When X has proclaimed his scorn for Aeacus' threats, D thinks of a plan to save himself from the threatened catastrophes. He suggests that X should change costumes and roles with him. This appeals to X's love of trickery. He accepts (and at the same time Ar. prepares the way for nice reversal).
ACTION. Now comes a surprise and the reversal. Instead of the furious Aeacus, as expected, a friendly maidservant enters, welcomes Xanthiheracles, and invites him to a banquet with Persephone -much to Dionysoxanthias' chagrin.
she started baking . Several different methods of cooking are mentioned here -" bake", "boil", " broil", "roast", " toast". All the verbs are used in the sense of "made the cook bake etc. )". Artistic cooking was always done by a man in ancient Greece; and, besides, Persephone was Queen of Hades. As was fitting for the feasts of Dionysus Greek comedians often described lavish feasts. Cooking was already a fine art in the time of Ar. There were notable comtemporary writers of the subject.
Well, thank you very much X's reasons for declining are not clear. Perhaps he fears his master's wrath, perhaps he fears detection by Persephone. But when he hears about the flute-girl and the dancing girls he cannot resist.
Just tell those dancing girls ...X shows lack of manners in addressing his acceptance to the dancing girls and not to Persephone. How joyfully X tells D to bring the baggage in, after all his earlier tribulations with it. But D. ever fickle, refuses to bear the consequences of his change.
The moral is plain ...The chorus, impressed by D's quick changes of policy and costume sing an ode in praise of the versatile man (but Ar. is being ironical, of course) leading up to a crack a the turncoat Theramenes. Note the metaphor from the navy, in which so many Athenian citizens had to serve during the war.
ACTION. Now Ar. introduces a further reversal. D, having resumed the garb of Heracles, is just about to go in to Persephone's feast, when an irate female landlady rushes out and denounces him (as Heracles) for fraud and damages to her inn during his previous visit. She is accompanied by another landlady, and each of these women is probably accompanied by a maidservant. Note that four actors (with silent attendants) take part in this scene. The three-actor rule of tragedy does note apply to comedy.
Wolfed the lot ...Fresh cheese were hung in baskets to dry. Heracles had a reputation as a glutton. In a lost play by another playwright, Ion, he devoured the firewood and coals as well as the roasting meat.
ACTION. The two landladies go out. D shamelessly tries to coax X into undertaking the role of Heracles again. X. after some sarcastic references to D's earlier remarks, agrees.
The chorus and X sing in turn on the need for courage and caution in playing the role of Heracles.
ACTION. Aeacus returns accompanied by at least two personal attendants. He orders them to bind "Heracles". X first shows fight, but when Aeacus calls up some police as reinforcements, X tries to deny that he ever came to Hades before or stole Cerberus. To prove his innocence he makes a "gentlemanly offer".
Ditylas ("Thicky"), Skobylas ("Baboon"), and Pardokas ("Farter") are perhaps parodies of Scythian or Thracian names. In 5th century Athens Scythian archers were employed as police.
ACTION. X introduces a masterpiece of roguery. Making use of the Attic law that a master might allow his slave to be tortured to determine the truth of an accusation, X. handsomely offers his "slave" D for torture. If X is proved in this way to have done any injustice, he consents to be executed at once. We can imagine how D squirms at this development.
Fair enough Aeacus recognizes the generosity of X's offer and makes an equally generous reply.
ACTION. It is now decided that X and D shall be beaten, turn about. Superficially it seems a fair arrangement. But in fact D will be at a big disadvantage: he is definitely not the kind of god who feels no pain (even less so than Homer's gods): on the contrary he is highly sensitive and nervous. X on the other hand has a skin toughened by many a beating already, and will be able to endure the lash much better than D. In this scene one must imagine much comic business between Aeacus and the other two. Aeacus gradually gets crosser and crueller with his whip. D and X gradually lose their assumed indifference.
ACTION. Baffled, Aeacus ends the inquisition, leaving it to Pluto and Persephone to decide which is the god. All the actors now leave the scene. The chorus remain to sing, dance and recite in the Parabasis. As usual in the parabasis, the chorus expresses Ar.'s opinion on current political matters. Here he pleads for those Athenians who have been deprived of civic rights as a result of the oligarchic coup in 411. Apparently many of them had been kept in constant fear of prosecution, and had been excluded from public office. Ar. pleads for a general amnesty, so that a united front can be formed to meet the problems of the war. For this advice Frogs was apparently honoured with a second performance. This is the last parabasis in extant comedy.
When slaves who helped ..After Arginusae the Athenians freed all slaves who had fought in this victory, and gave them "Plataean" rights of citizenship. The Plataeans, traditional allies of the Athenians, had been made citizens of Athens after the destruction of Plataea by the Spartans and their allies in 427BC: but certain religious privileges and official positions were not permitted to them.
Cleigenes . Ar. attacks Cleigenes in his profession as a keeper of a public bath and laundry, (Athenian bath-keepers were distrusted). Ar. accuses him of cheating his customers by using (or supplying for use, if customers did their own washing) adulterated detergents. The "big stick" mentioned is probably not just a walking stick, such as fashionable Athenians carried, but a staff of office which would give him immunity from assault even when drunk.
Ar. now uses his famous analogy about coinage. The historical background is this: After the occupation of Decelea by the Spartans in 413 the Laureion silver mines ceased to be worked by the Athenians and the good old silver coinage (which was highly respected throughout the known world) could no longer be coined. In 407 the Athenians produced a gold coinage by melting down the gold plating on the statues of Victory in the Acropolis. These coins were worth more as metal than the silver coins of the same face value, and so (by Gresham's law that bad coinage always replaces any better coinage) disappeared from circulation. In 406 the Athenian treasury minted coins of silver plated copper. This led to higher prices and had a bad psychological effect on the Athenians, who took a pride in their silver "owls". Ar. argues in what follows here that just as the Athenians have been suffering economically from the recent introduction of a spurious coinage (copper with a coating of silver), so they have been suffering from base politicians, many of them aliens and "red- heads" masquerading as true Athenian citizens, who have driven out the silver and the gold coinage of true-born and true-hearted citizens. The cure, Ar. suggests, is to go back to the political ascendancy of the older type of "well-born, moderate, just , handsome and good citizens " .
copper-pated .i.e. foreigner, perhaps especially y Thracians or slaves. It has been suggested that it also implies bad character. Note also that the place where thin silver plating would most quickly get worn away and show the reddish copper underneath was the area of highest relief, in this case the forehead of Athena on the Athenian drachmas and tetradrachmas: hence there is a special aptness in this term.
Even as scapegoats Every year at Athens during the festival of Thargelia in May two condemned criminals, a man and a woman, were beaten out of the city and put to death as a rite of purification. They were believed to take with them the collective guilt and ill-luck of the community. (Cf. Oedipus and modern folk rituals which retain this apotropaic element) The Greek word for a scapegoat is s pharmakos
Enter Xanthias and a servant. This conversation acts as a kind of prologue to the following contest (agon) between Aeschylus and Euripides. Note X's cynical slave's-eye view of what constitutes a gentleman.
p.186 Weighing the poetry? X is astonished at this curious announcement -and Ar. doubtless hopes the audience is equally surprised. In the following lines Ar adds to the mystification. In fact the weighing scales are not used until p.206, and the other instruments of measurement are never used in the play. Some mockery of contemporary materialism may be intended.
ACTION. X and the servant now leave the scene and do not appear again. Their actors probably assume the roles of Euripides and Aeschylus respectively.
p.187 CHORAL ODE.
This is a brilliant piece of pseudo-elevated diction. superbly contrived to make the spectators view the coming contest between Aeschylus and Euripides as a mock-epic conflict of savage beasts or heroes in chariots. (Compare the duel of Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass). Subtleties of metre, vocabulary and imagery contribute to the general effect. The metre lurches in the fourth line from lofty dactyls into common trochees. The vocabulary is a mixture of epico-Aeschylean words (Aeschylus consciously derived much of his style and material from Homer: he described his work as "slices taken from Homer"), and sophistic terms (implying Euripides' strong sophistic traits, as emphasised by Ar. in many places). The imagery suggests a similar contrast: Aeschylus appears (by implication) as a bull, or a bear, or a lion. or a titan, huge, ponderous, and violent: Euripides emerges as an agile, deft, lightweight creature. There is also a psychological contrast: Aeschylus is maddened by deep-felt passion: Euripides is cool and subtle. Doubtless the music and dancing also heightened the mock- heroic humour.
ACTION. After the chorus' fantastic introduction (which favours Aeschylus, though he is not presented as flawless by any means) the rival poets enter, accompanied by Dionysus and possibly Pluto.
a black lamb... D in mockery of Aeschylus' stormy vehemence calls for a victim to placate the wrath of an angry storm-god (a black victim for an underworld god, male for a male god).
Sing and dance like Cretans The objection to this was partly because it involved drastic innovations in music and dancing, and partly because it was considered immoral (since Aerope, Phaedra and Pasiphae were all Cretans).
My works happen to have outlived me Despite Aeschylus' quarrels with the Athenians ( he was condemned of impiety because of one of his plays and retired to the court of Hiero in Sicily) his plays were highly esteemed and were honoured by a public decree allowing their re-performance after his death in 456BC. But when he says here that Euripides' plays have died with him he is wrong. In the 4C BC and later Euripides' popularity far surpassed that of Aeschylus (and Sophocles).
O Demeter. Aeschylus was born at Eleusis, the centre of Demeter's Mysteries. Apart from this the invocation of Demeter is not particularly apt for Aeschylus, since he does not seem to have shown much interest in her cult.
Hail., Ether With these expressions Ar. mocks at Euripides' materialism. Like Socrates ( in Clouds) he is represented as believing in Ether (the upper air) as the first principle of life, volubility. hyper-intelligence. and over-fastidious criticism.
Right. Off we go The first round of the Aeschylus v. Euripides contest, the Agon
a seated figure, all muffled up. E attacks A's use of the silent actor in his tragedies. Despite E's mockery it probably was a very effective and quite legitimate dramatic device: hence Dionysus' remark a few lines further on. These figures were "muffled up" because to cover the head and face was a traditional sign of grief. E unscrupulously suggests that it was mainly for mystification. Actually E sometimes employs silent figures himself.
p.191 Scamanders, fosses ..Here E produces a miscellaneous jumble of references to A's vocabulary and stage effects. "Scamanders" perhaps mocks his liking for lordly geographical names. The "shields with..." recalls the emblems mentioned by A in Seven against Thebes
Cephisophon As E's speech is running on too long, Ar. now makes D interject a cheap gibe about Cephisophon, an Athenian who lived in E's house and was said to have had something to do with E's plays and with his wife.
Democracy in action E uses this catchword from contemporary politics to excuse his readiness to allow every kind of person equal rights of speech in his plays. The word is similarly used for political whitewash in modern times; but in late 5C Athens the demos that held the kratos was composed exclusively of adult, male, purebred citizens. Here E probably refers especially to isegoria "equal rights of public speaking", or "parresia" freedom of speech". D. interrupts with a mocking insinuation that E was no true democrat himself, but, rather, inclined to favour the oligarchs (he was friendly with Critias, Plato, and Xenophon), and aristocrats (he spent his last years at the court of the king of Macedon).
Cleitophon Probably the member of the Socratic circle after whom a Platonic dialogue is named. He helped Theramenes in establishing the Oligarchic Revolution in 411BC.
What I did .. In turn E and D sing (and perhaps dance) in a short lively passage which embroiders the theme of domestic realism in E's plays. E (absurdly) argues that his plays have taught Athenian householders to be clever and careful in the management of their households. D caricatures E's claims by describing absurd details of this domestic realism, which, it is implied, has turned Athenians into busybodies and skinflints. Some believe that this kind of parsimony and suspicion did prevail at Athens then, but that the cause was the war and not Euripides.
You hear him, famed Achilles ... A quote from Aeschylus' Myrmidons implying that A in his haughty and arrogant reserve towards E in the last scene resembled Achilles in his sulky fury after Briseis was taken from him.
It distresses and pains .. Here starts Round 2 of the Agon.
Well, that was very naughty ...The Thebans were enemies of the Athenians for most of the 5thC, and had defeated them at Coronea in 447 and Delion in 424. There is evidence that the Athenians felt some military inferiority at this time.
p.194 harlots like Phaedra ..The description of Phaedra is not justified by her noble conduct in the Hippolytus as we now have it: perhaps A is referring to the lost earlier version ( the Hippoytus Crowned which apparently shocked the Athenians by its display of feminine shamelessness); or perhaps the description is only another of Ar.'s ruthless exaggerations. Stheneboia, wife of Proitus, king of Tiryns, appears as Anteia in Iliad 6, 150ff; so E was not the first to use this theme in poetry. Against Ar.'s strictures here we may note that E portrayed many noble women in his plays e.g.. Alcestis, Macaria, Polyxena, Iphigeneia.
No one can say ... A's boast holds for all his plays as now known, if it is agreed that Clytaemnestra in Agamemnon is not in love with Aegisthus. Plato, Republic 395D, also condemns the presentation in poetry of women in love.
buying their dinner ..Fish was a favourite, but expensive, food in 5thC (and 20thC) Athens. The household marketing was usually done by the master of the house accompanied by a slave.
And think of all the other harm ..A and D in turn mock the degenerate citizens whose moral decline A blames on E.
Fiercely the fight goes on . ..To introduce the third round of the Agon the Chorus sings (and no doubt excitedly dances) another ode of exhortation to stimulate the protagonists.
Well, listen. I'll repeat the line... E now attacks what he considers another fault; repetition of meaning through synonyms, as in A's "arrive and come", "hear and listen". This is a common feature of both elevated and popular literature and is frequently used in liturgical language. E uses it himself at times (e.g. Hippolytus 380) .Later rhetoricians disputed whether it should be admired as adding grandeur of style, or condemned as a source of confusion.
My prologues, with a bottle of oil? Aristophanes no doubt meant E's astonished repetition of the phrase to reflect the bewilderment of the audience. The lekythos, a slender narrow- necked jar, was commonly carried about by Athenians or their slaves, even in the theatre.
lost his bottle of oil What criticism of E's poetry is implied by this tag? Three aspects must be considered; metre, subject matter, syntax, but the metrical point need not concern us here. In subject matter the reference to a little bottle of oil might parody E's alleged fondness for introducing everyday things into his tragedies and his triviality of detail; but the prologues quoted do not obviously suggest this. In syntax the tag suggests that E's opening sentences were constructed on a monotonous pattern, beginning with a proper name and containing an early participle. The syntactical criticism seems the likeliest. But there may be little more than comic foolery here. The repetition of a phrase like this is a recognized comic device (Try to think of modern parallels). There is an example in Birds 974f f and we know that Hegemon of Thasos "when he was in difficulties with his parodies would add and the leg of a partridge"
Lord Dionysos of the fawnskin cloak. From E's Hypsipile The thyrsus (a rod tipped with a pine-cone or with myrtle) and fawnskin were the usual equipment of a follower of the Dionysiac cult. Parnassus was Dionysus' precinct during the winter months.
No one is ever.. The beginning of Sthenoboia
Leaving his native...... The opening of Phrixus
Pelops the Tantalid..........Iphigeneia among the Tauri
'Tis.said that Oineus ...The opening of Meleager
Almighty Zeus...The opening of Melanippe the Wise
fiercely the battle is" raging. ..(From Aeschylus' Myrmidons) .What exactly is E mocking in the following quotes from A's plays? Not A's use of refrains (though possibly they are hinted at as a secondary source of monotony), but apparently A's tendency to slip into dactylic rhythms (long, short, short) in his lyrics. This is not a marked feature of A's extant work, though possibly it was more noticeable in the lost plays. More likely E's accusation is as unfair as A's "bottle of oil" attack; in other words it may be another example of Ar.'s readiness to exaggerate things for comic effect. Note that, contrary to the practice of the previous scene, the critic (not the criticized author) recited the lines, doubtless with horrid over-emphasis of their faults. But a catastrophic retaliation from A will soon follow.
We who dwell From Ghost Raisers;.
Hearken 'great lord..From Telephus (by Aeschylus this time) or Iphigeneia (also by A) .
Silence/the temple...From Priestesses.
Proudly today we march forth ..From Agamemnon
Which way is the. ..Buffoonishly D inserts a crude remark ( presumably to prevent the less literary members of the audience from becoming bored).
What the prophet bird... Here the loss of the music is particularly serious, since the nonsensical refrain seems to indicate musical rather than metrical monotony. The passage contains a ridiculous mix up of quotes from Agamemnon, Sphinx, and Thracian Women, plus an unknown reference .
picked up at Marathon ..Note that A fought at the battle of Marathon.
Aha! the muse of Euripides At the sight of the ugly creature who enters to represent the Muse of Euripides, D emphatically denies that she could make any profit by her charms ( as Lesbian women notoriously did in the 5thC: cf Wasps, 1346). At the same time he implies that E's lyrics had no Aeolic charm about them. The excellence of Lesbian music is implied by the proverb "second to the Aeolian singer". A reference to Sappho or the specific malpractices of other Lesbian women seems unlikely here.
Sea birds over the wave tops ..In the following wonderful farrago of parody and quotation A is primarily mocking the irregular rhythms of E's lyrics. E has accused him of monotony: he replies by accusing E of turning the stately rhythms of tragic chorus into a wild chaos in which the basic patterns of the established rhythms are wilfully destroyed. The lines are also selected so as to give a kind of mad sense. But the main criticism (as the accompaniment by castanets indicates) seems to be metrical.
Twiddling and .. This parodies the musical device by which a singer prolongs a syllable of a word in the lyric to allow for the singing of several different notes, or else repetitions of the same note, on it.
Now I want to give you some idea ..A's mockery is aimed less at metrical extravagance, and more at the general style and mood of E's solo odes especially their exaggerated emotionalism, sensationalism, triviality of association, lapses into prosaic style, and quick changes of feeling. The narrative is in seven parts:-
The Dream (E was fond of describing dreams)
The Discovery of the Theft
The Lonely Vigil
The Flight of the Bird
The Call for Aid
A woman describes how she saw in a dream a terrible, darkly shrouded vision, "with murder, murder in its eyes and it has terribly long claws". She calls her servants to bring water for her purification. Suddenly she cries out: she has discovered that the crime predicted by the vision has actually occurred: her maid Glyke has stolen her pet cock -leaving her (alas and alack!) nought but woe upon woe and tears upon tears. Recovering from her deep emotion she summons guards and a goddess to help her catch the thief red- (or at least feathery-) handed. (The Dream). Note the "romantic" references to gloom and darkness.
(The Purification). Ritual cleansing of this kind was customary after an evil dream: sea water or fresh running water (as here) was used. The heating mentioned here is perhaps a deliberately trivial touch.
(The Discovery). This is what the dream meant. Note the sudden lapse into everyday speech (Bathos) .
Glyke has stolen .We now discover the cause of all this tragic fussification. A slave called Glyke ("Sweetie") has stolen a cock. The Bathos is gloriously deepened by the following joint invocation of the nymphs and a slave with the barbarous name Manya. This was apparently a Phrygian prostitute's name. The word is not linguistically connected with mania "madness", but Ar. may be taking a side swipe at E's fondness for mad-scenes.
(The Lonely Vigil'). Women in ancient Greece spent much time in spinning (as their modern successors do). A bundle of unspun wool was stuck on a distaff which was held in the left hand:from it the fibres were looped onto a spindle and the right hand drew them out, twisted them between finger and thumb, and wound them as yarn onto the spindle.
(The Call for Aid). As a climax to this masterpiece of Bathos A now makes the hapless, cock-bereft female summon a posse of Cretans and a goddess to help her catch the thief.
with twin torches flaming ..Hecate, goddess of the underworld, regularly carried these.
ACTION. A pair, of scales -probably grotesquely huge and ungainly for comic effect has meanwhile been set up (doubtless with much comic business) in the Orchestra. D commands each poet to recite a single line into one of the scale pans. A was, of course, likely to win in any contest on the basis of sheer weight. But we should not assume that the results of successive scenes in Ar.'s plays follow logically from one another.
Would that Argo ... The first line of E's Medea and a line from A's lost Philoctetes.
like the wool merchants ..... who wet their wool to make it heavier; like adding sand to sugar, slate to coal, water to milk, chicory to coffee. and irrelevant quotations to editions of classical authors. D's argument of course is quite absurd - that a line mentioning a river is bound to be heavier than one mentioning wings.
No temple hath. ..From E' s Antigone and A's Niobe.
What have I got that's. ..When E ruminates on what would be the most effective line for him to quote, D mischievously supplies a trivial line probably from E.s Telephus: "Achilles threw two singles, and a four". D's following remark shows that he knew it was quite unsuitable. The line describes a bad throw - the triple six being the highest.
He seized his mighty bludgeon ..From E's Meleager and A. s Glaukos Potnieus .
One of them is so clever, and..... Which is which? There is no clear indication, Perhaps Ar. deliberately made it ambiguous to leave the audience in uncertainty about D's final decision. ACTION. Pluto intervenes to induce the wavering D to decide between A and E. Pluto was present si nce line 830 as a silent figure, humorously enough in view of 911ff. -or else he may have entered announced perhaps by a clap of thunder. The competition in tragic skill is now abandoned and a political test substituted.
Now here's my first question: The test question is to be:
"What do you think about Alcibiades?" Political opinion in Athens in 405 was sharply divided on this brilliant, ostentatious, charming, unscrupulous, unpredictable, and dissolute aristocrat. Should he be recalled from the Thracian Chersonese (where he had voluntarily withdrawn in 406)? Undoubtedly he had the ability to defeat the Peloponnesians: his recent victories had shown it. But could a man who had gone over to the enemy after his recall from Syracuse be trusted now? He was not in fact recalled, and was mysteriously assassinated in 404.
It is not very wise for city states ..The metaphor of the lion cub charming and harmless at first but fierce and Destructive , when it grows up, as described by A in Agamemnon 717ff is common in 5thC literature, The earliest known example being cited by Herodotus 5,92 (in a Delphic oracle to the Corinthians: so perhaps Ar. intends some parody of A's "oracle-style" ) .
Palamedes ...... .A hero who took part in the early stages of the (Greek expedition against Troy. He was credited with great inventiveness and ingenuity -hence the reference here. But it is a bad omen for E since Palamedes met a tragic fate before the Greeks reached Troy.
Tell me, what kind of people. ..A had not been in Athens for over 50 years, having died abroad in 456BC.
Now remember you swore... E, sensing his imminent defeat, makes a wild appeal to D. In fact D has not, within the play at least, sworn by any gods to bring E back to Athens. Here again Ar. refers to E's .Hippolytus. Ar. uses it as a justification of perjury. This is unfair to E, since Hippolytus in his play kept his oath faithfully to the end. But Ar., in so far as he intended any serious criticism, might have argued that E, by making a distinction between oath and intention, opened the door to unscrupulous mental reservations and evasions.
That's extremely kind... This nonchalant remark expressed in tragic style and metre aptly ends D's talk in the play. Complacently accepting Pluto's invitation as his natural due, and probably without a glance at the flabbergasted E, he strolls into the feast. The Chorus sings an ode in praise of the man of true intelligence, who, they claim, will avoid Socratic subtleties and bring practical benefit to his kinsman and to the citizens in general.
They sit at the feet of Socrates ... Here Ar. makes an opportunity of mocking his old victim Socrates, adopting the popular but misguided view that he was a typical Sophist, a pedantic, over-ingenious, arrogant quibbler, and an enemy of established custom in religion, ethics, and education. In private life Ar. and Socrates may well have been good friends, as Plato in his Symposium seems to imply. Ar. could hardly have foreseen that his comic attacks on Socrates would help to bring on his prosecution and execution in 399BC. In the present passage Ar. implies that E had been influenced by Socrates (who was the younger by 12 years), which may or may not be true.
Good-bye, then, Aeschylus ..The preceding chorus has marked a lapse of time long enough for Pluto's feast to be finished. A, Pluto, and D come out of the Stage Building in high spirits. What follows is the Exodos.
And give this... What exactly Pluto had in his hands is uncertain. But since the proverbial three roads to death were the sword, the halter, and the hemlock (with the variation of throwing yourself off a cliff instead of hemlock), we may take the suggestions in the translation as correct.
Adeimantus was later accused of betraying the Athenian fleet at Aegospotami.
with your sacred torches Perhaps this is meant to recall the great torchlight, triumphal procession at the end of A's Eumenides. .
Cleophon and co ...Ar. ends with a slash at the warmongers, accusing them as usual of not being pure-blooded Athenians, in Cleophon's case, Thracian, Thrace being the homeland of Ares, the war god.
So Aristophanes ends his play by giving the Athenians the comfortable feeling that their errors and sufferings are due to foreigners and aliens. "if only we were left to ourselves," he implies. "How happy, peaceful. and prosperous we would be." This was no doubt gratifying to the Athenians' self-esteem, but, as their history shows it was not in fact entirely true. However the Dionysiac festivals and their comedies were there to give a sense of well-being and confidence, not to promote self-criticism or introspection. The final mood then is: "For we are jolly good fellows...and so say all of us" -but with a religious fervour and exaltation to sustain it.