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Aristophanes: Wasps (Classical Texts) Hardcover – December 1, 1983

ISBN-13: 978-0856682124 ISBN-10: 0856682128

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Product Details

  • Series: Classical Texts
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Aris & Phillips (December 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0856682128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0856682124
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,939,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English, Greek (translation)

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Format: Hardcover
The comedy "Wasps" ("Sphekes") by Aristophanes appeals to contemporary audiences because it satrizies the litigiousness of the Athenians. Actually, the play, produced in 422 B.C., is more about the permanent tensions between conserative and liberal politics. Aristophanes is attacking the practice of the politician Cleon's explotation of the large subsidized juries used in by the Athenian legal system. Bdelcylen ("Cleon-hater"), representing the position of the playwright, maintains that pay for public service is the device of demagogues to purchase loyalty. His father Philocleon("Cleon-lover"), a mean and waspish old man who has a passion for serving on juries, represents the Athenians. Bdelcylen arranges for a court to be held at home to hear Philocleon's stupid little case of accusing the house dog of stealing cheese. The old man is cured of his passion for juries, becoming a drunkard instead.
The best scenes in "Wasps" are Philocleon's attempts to escape when Bdelcyclen locks him up and the scene where the poor dog is tried. Certainly this play is representative of Aristophanes as a reformer, who wanted to persuade his audiences to change their foolish ways by ridiculing them on stage. I have always maintained that in studying Greek plays, whether the comedies of Aristophanes or the tragedies of the great dramatists, it is important to understand the particular structure of these plays and the various dramatic conventions of the theater. This involves not only the distinction between episodes and staismons (scenes and songs), but elements like the "agon" (a formal debate on the crucial issue of the play), and the "parabasis" (in which the Chorus partially abandons its dramatic role and addresses the audience directly).
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