The Comedian as Critic: Greek Old Comedy and Poetics 9781472555793, 9781780930299

Some of the best evidence for the early development of literary criticism before Plato and Aristotle comes from Athenian

200 12 7MB

English Pages [244] Year 2012

Report DMCA / Copyright


Recommend Papers

The Comedian as Critic: Greek Old Comedy and Poetics
 9781472555793, 9781780930299

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

You have been talking of criticism as an essential part of the creative spirit, and I now fully accept your theory. But what of criticism outside creation? I have a foolish habit of reading periodicals, and it seems to me that most modern criticism is perfectly valueless. Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist


This page intentionally left blank

Preface Fifth-century Athenian comedy is full of jokes about poets and poetry. This book tries to make sense of these jokes, and asks what comedy can reveal to us about the early history and development of literary criticism. Anyone who sits down to write a scholarly monograph about comedy is putting himself in a risky position. Classical scholars have many fine qualities, of course, but they are not generally noted for their sense of humour. Over the last few years I have often found myself thinking, somewhat uneasily, of the remarks of E.B. White, in his famous essay ‘Some Remarks on Humor’ (1941): Analysts have had their go at humor, and I have read some of this interpretative literature, but without being greatly instructed. Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind (White [1977] 243-4).

There is likely to be a fairly large gap, in other words, between the extent to which comedy can be analysed and the extent to which its authors would have wanted it to be analysed. I have tried to approach comedy in what I think is the right sort of spirit, but perhaps it is impossible for a scholar, however well-intentioned, to avoid killing off at least some of the jokes that he painstakingly sets out to interpret. And then there is the problem of how to write: surely a sober, neutral, academic style will seem tonally at odds with the material under discussion. It can feel incongruous to adopt a serious, earnest voice when discussing frivolous subject-matter, as if one is somehow deliberately missing the point. But can one put jokes in a monograph? In the early stages of writing this book, I experimented with using different voices (facetious, satirical, waspish, Aristophanic, Wildean, Wodehousian, etc.), and even contemplated writing it in the form of a comic dialogue between different characters – but all of these experiments produced rather leaden or embarrassing results. In the end, concluding that my own sense of humour must have been fatally weakened by years of research and teaching, I decided to revert to a familiar mode of conversational, academic English. I hope, therefore, that Cratinus, Aristophanes et al. would not have been too affronted by this book in the form in which it now appears. If they are at this moment turning furiously in their graves, let me state a firm belief that their work remains funny and powerful enough to survive this sort of scholarly dissection. ix

Preface Writing seriously about silly material may be difficult, but interpreting silly writing about serious ideas is equally difficult. Chapter 1 outlines my general approach to comedy and my attempts to tackle some of its main interpretative difficulties (including, most importantly, the absence of a clearly identifiable authorial voice or privileged point of view). It should be made clear at the outset that I take a broadly ironical, anti-literal approach to the material. That is, I do not believe that any statement made by a character in a comedy can necessarily be read at face value, even (or especially) when the character in question is adopting what looks like an authorial persona or making self-conscious claims about the play in which they appear. I also believe that the comedians are usually to be seen as playing around (in various ways, and for various ends) with concepts and terminology which their audience might have encountered in a more serious format elsewhere. By means of its ludic treatment of ideas, comedy can provide an implicit critique of those ideas – which, in turn, may have an effect on ‘serious’ intellectual developments. It is difficult or impossible to discern exactly what, if anything, the comedians ‘really mean’, or what they are ‘saying’ about any subject. But (at any rate) literal or surface readings of comedy are inadequate: any meaning emerges only implicitly and through irony and joking. Subsequent chapters apply this general approach to a number of specific themes and topics in comic criticism. Chapter 2 looks at the sort of thing that comedians (and other ancient critics) say about literary contests and prizes; Chapter 3 explores the problematic concept of novelty in literature; Chapter 4 discusses the comedians’ use of metaphors to describe and evaluate poetry; and Chapter 5 centres on the ways in which comedians ‘read’ other types of literature. I cannot claim to be offering a definitive interpretation of all this material – indeed, comedy by its nature tends to rule out ‘definitive’ interpretations – but I believe that my discussion sheds some new light on comic poetics, and it certainly differs in some of its conclusions from existing scholarship on the subject. I hope that this book will be of interest to classical scholars, students and anyone else with an interest in either Greek comedy or literary criticism. Many of these readers will be Greekless, and in any case Greek comedy (especially the fragmentary material) is notoriously difficult to translate, so I have taken the decision to quote all the texts in English, giving the original Greek only where necessary to clarify a specific meaning, nuance or linguistic point. My own prose translations inevitably deaden the effect of the comedians’ subtle, lively poetry, but I hope they are at least clear and intelligible. In the same spirit, I always give the titles of plays in English rather than Greek or Latin, so that (for example) Cratinus’ Putinê becomes The Wine-Flask, Aristophanes’ Skênas Katalambanousai becomes the (slightly) less intimidating Women Claiming Tent-Sites, and so on. In order to facilitate identification and cross-referencing, I list the Greek and English titles side by side in an Appendix (pp. 173-7). Note that the comedian Plato is always referred to as ‘Platon’, in order to distinguish x

Preface him from the philosopher of the same name: I prefer this nomenclature to the more usual ‘Plato Comicus’ (which somehow makes him sound like a figure of lesser importance). All comic fragments are cited using the text and numeration of the multi-volume edition Poetae Comici Graeci, edited by Rudolf Kassel and Colin Austin (Berlin and New York, 1983-). For the complete plays of Aristophanes I have used the new Oxford Classical Text, edited by Nigel Wilson (Oxford, 2007) except where otherwise noted. Full details of any other editions and unfamiliar abbreviations will be found in the Notes and Bibliography. It is a pleasure to acknowledge the help of friends and colleagues who have helped me to write this book, either by reading large portions of it in draft or by arguing with me over the years as I have expounded my ideas. Particular thanks are due to David Harvey and John Wilkins (editors of the incomparable collection The Rivals of Aristophanes), Karen Ní Mheallaigh, Rebecca Langlands, Bob Cowan, Dave Braund, Isabelle Torrance, Penny Bulloch, Ian Ruffell, Lena Isayev, Mark Griffith, Richard Seaford and Lucy Jackson. It should not be assumed that any of these excellent scholars agree with my own views. Topsham December 2010



This page intentionally left blank


Reading comic criticism The so-called ‘old comedy’ of fifth-century Athens is an extraordinarily diverse and exuberant genre of literature. Cratinus, Eupolis, Telecleides, Hermippus, Metagenes, Aristophanes and other prominent comedians of the age entertained their audiences with a wide range of material, including knockabout physical humour, inventive wordplay and puns, parody, mythological burlesque, utopian fantasy, theriomorphic choruses, bizarre costumes, elaborate song-and-dance routines, social commentary and political satire, not to mention some of the filthiest jokes ever told. The surviving plays and fragments also reveal an intensely self-conscious, critical interest in poetry and drama: the comedians refer openly to their own plays and those of their rivals, and they also include discussion of literature in a more general sense. In fact, owing to the unfortunate loss of nearly all early Greek literature, old comedy is now our best evidence for the origins and early development of literary criticism as an intellectual discipline. This book sets out to explore in depth the literary-critical content of old comedy, to examine the criteria that emerge for judging literary quality, and to ask to what extent one can talk of a ‘poetics’ of comedy. I aim to offer a fresh reading of the material which is contextualized, as far as possible, in relation to the social and intellectual background in which the comedians were writing. Unlike other published studies (which have tended to focus exclusively on Aristophanes, or to restrict themselves to specific aspects of comic criticism), I have tried to provide a comprehensive, general survey of the topic which takes into account all the surviving evidence, including much fragmentary material. I have seen myself as writing for two types of reader: not only those whose primary interest lies in Greek drama, and who want to read and understand comedy for its own sake, but also those whose main interest lies in reconstructing the early history of literary criticism, and who regard comedy chiefly as a source of evidence. Neither type of person will be able to avoid asking certain difficult methodological questions at the outset. Comedy is notoriously tricky to interpret. It never seems to say quite what it means; it is ironical; it is full of jokes; the nature of its relationship to other types of literature is open to debate. In this opening chapter I outline some of the main interpretative problems facing the reader of old comedy, and explain my own attempts to deal with these problems.


The Comedian as Critic 1.1. Comedians and critics One of the central objectives of this book is to clarify the relationship between comic criticism and ancient literary criticism ‘proper’. In what sense can we talk of the comedian as critic? It is normally thought that, despite their interest in literary matters, the comic poets cannot be called ‘critics’ in quite the same way as Aristotle, Longinus or other writers of that sort. However, I shall be arguing that the differences in outlook between these different writers are not as great as is usually supposed. Comedy, as we shall see, certainly poses unusual interpretative difficulties – the elusive authorial presence, the jokes and the irony – but these can be seen as mere surface distractions. Beneath these features of presentation, there is in fact a surprising amount of common ground between comedy and the later critical tradition. It is worth pointing out that there was no such genre as ‘literary criticism’ in antiquity. This category of writing is conventionally understood by modern scholars as beginning in the fourth century BC with Plato, partly because his works are the first surviving texts which attempt a sustained or systematic discussion of literary matters, using the familiar vehicle of the prose treatise.1 However, we could equally well define ‘literary criticism’ as including any sort of writing that reflects in some way on the nature and purpose of literature, the act of literary composition, or the criteria for evaluating good or bad writing. Greek poets from the very earliest times, including Homer, Hesiod and the lyric poets, had long been concerned with such matters. Even though literary criticism was not their principal interest, and even though they do not pursue their arguments in much detail or depth, they may all be classed as ‘literary critics’ in this broad sense. Indeed, a growing amount of recent scholarship (including works with titles such as Poetics Before Plato) has been concerned with expanding the definition of ‘literary criticism’, rewriting the standard account of literary history so as to incorporate the early Greek poets as important precursors to later critics.2 This expanded definition of ‘literary criticism’ is certainly broad enough to include comedy, but it does not help us much when it comes to accounting for the similarities or differences between comedy and other types of writing. We still need to enquire why criticism is normally treated as having begun only in the fourth century. It is not simply the length of Plato and Aristotle’s discussions that mark them out as something different from what had gone before, nor the fact that they were written in prose rather than verse. These considerations are not unimportant, of course, but far more important is the conception of literature that Plato and others hold, and the sort of audience for whom they were writing. It is usually assumed that this fourth-century criticism is based on the idea that ‘literature’ (as such) is a distinct category of material, to be judged according to specifically ‘literary’ criteria. The ‘literary critic’, according to such a view, would have to be a specialist – a highly educated, intellectual, 2

1. Reading comic criticism quasi-professional person, writing for an elite audience of similarly well-educated readers. Andrew Ford’s influential book The Origins of Criticism is one recent example of such an approach. As Ford sees it, the emergence of literary criticism as a discipline is intrinsically linked to a growing tension between elite and popular value-systems. Ford argues that the values of archaic and early classical writers who express views about poetry were broadly the same as the values of society at large, whereas later ‘professional’ critics were concerned to distance themselves from society (‘Only with the generations of Plato and Aristotle was the case made that poets should be judged on the basis of criteria specific to their art’).3 Ford’s view of criticism is largely persuasive, but it is based on the assumption that fifth-century authors were never ‘elitist’ in outlook. This assumption is, I believe, open to doubt. It relies on a couple of preconceived (and very widely held) notions about the relationship between literature and society in fifth-century Athens, and about the sort of genre that comedy is. Comedy is not normally seen as elitist: on the contrary, it is nearly always thought to be a popular (or populist) genre of public performance, invariably designed to please the largest possible number of citizens in the audience and to win first prize in the democratically administered festival.4 Fifth-century Athenian society, similarly, is often described as a ‘performance culture’, in which all activities, including the production and consumption of art and literature, were characterized by democratic ideology, shared civic values and maximum public participation.5 As Simon Goldhill puts it (in his introduction to an important collection of essays entitled Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy), ‘when the Athenian citizen speaks in the assembly, exercises in the gymnasium, sings at the symposium, or courts a boy ... each activity forms an integral part of the exercise of citizenship’.6 This sort of notion of a fully unified pre-modern ‘performance culture’ is essentially a fantasy, based on an idealizing nostalgia for the past. At any rate (if that sounds a little uncharitable), fifth-century ‘performance culture’ is a modern scholarly construction which we are not obliged to accept unquestioningly.7 My own view is that the old comedians do, in certain important respects, foreshadow the distinctively ‘literary’ approach to literature that we see in Aristotle et al., and that some of them do exhibit signs of an ‘elitist’ outlook. This is not to say, of course, that all the comedians are to be seen as proto-Aristotelians; indeed, as I shall go on to explain, it is not really possible to pin them down to a consistent or coherent position on anything at all. Nevertheless, I think that their work can best be understood as embodying a series of tensions between different conceptions of literature and between different views of its social function and its relationship to its audience.8 However we may choose to interpret late fifth-century Athenian culture, it is clear that this was a time of enormous social and political change, which also witnessed a transformation in intellectual attitudes. It also has to be acknowledged that it was not simply or exclusively a 3

The Comedian as Critic culture of performance. Literacy and book-ownership were becoming more and more widespread. A significant, even if comparatively small, number of Athenians would have experienced poetry and drama not just by going to performances but also by reading texts. Along with texts came new ways of looking at literature itself, with an increased focus on form and verbal texture. The sophists in particular – Gorgias, Protagoras, Antisthenes and others – developed modes of reading based on etymology, rhetorical style, hermeneutics, close reading and the solving of textual or linguistic ‘problems’.9 All of these new modes of what we might call ‘close reading’ or ‘practical criticism’ are reflected in contemporary comedy. In general, the comedians can be seen as exploring the tensions between textuality and performance; between new and old; between elite and popular values; between aesthetic and practical views of poetry; between form and content. As we shall see in subsequent chapters, these various tensions and contrasts overlap with one another to a significant extent, and it is important to stress that the tensions are often left unresolved. This is partly because ambiguity and irony are at the heart of comedy, and partly (I suspect) because the comedians had not yet made up their own minds about all these issues and problems. Identifying the issues at stake is a more important task, perhaps, than discovering any comedian’s individual views. Nonetheless, I maintain that certain comedians (especially Aristophanes, but others as well) can often be seen as leaning heavily towards a ‘literary’ or ‘elite’ perspective. If we persist in defining comedy in terms of a populist performance genre, this implies a particular view of its purpose and its stance towards intellectual matters. But what sort of genre is comedy? There can be no single answer to this question. Many scholars would look for the essence of a genre in its origins: in the case of kômôidia, one could examine Dionysiac ritual, animal choruses and connections with other related artforms (such as iambos) in the hope of finding illumination.10 Others prefer to take a broader, diachronic view of ‘comedy’ (rather than kômôidia as such) across different cultures.11 But rather than looking at the origins of a genre, or asking what it was in general throughout its entire existence, we need to look at what it became at the specific period in which we are interested. The really crucial consideration is that literary genres do not stay still; they move away from their origins (whatever these origins may have been), and they change and develop at different points in time.12 The evidence seems to suggest that in the last few decades of the fifth century, comedy evolved into a new sort of art-form, which retained many of its original features but was significantly different from what had gone before. In the hands of certain imaginative practitioners such as Aristophanes, old comedy transformed itself into a hyper-sophisticated, hyper-literary genre of entertainment – a genre characterized by intertextuality and allusion; a self-consciously palimpsestic genre, full of quotation, parody and pastiche; a genre which could present itself as a secondary or parasitic form, drawing for its energy and inspiration on other forms of poetry; a genre in which one could expect to find discussion 4

1. Reading comic criticism of literary aesthetics, or obscure items of Homeric vocabulary, alongside critical evaluation and literary polemic. This new, distinctively literate sort of comedy was, I suggest, aimed primarily at a ‘target’ audience of discerning readers (or fellow-writers) who knew their stuff. The idea of the ‘target’ or ‘ideal’ audience is a useful one for understanding comedy.13 Another crucial consideration to be made at the outset is that the audience was not an undifferentiated, homogeneous mass. Even if we ignore the existence of readers, the fact that comedy, like other forms of poetry, was performed at a public festival does not preclude the possibility that some playwrights were aiming at different contingent groups within the audience.14 Fifth-century Athens, unlike modern European cities, did not have a wide range of ‘niche’ performance venues or other differentiated outlets for publication – but this does not mean that everything ever performed in public was designed to appeal to every Athenian citizen (even if such a design was feasible in the first place). Arguments based on the supposedly universal inclusivity of comedy are a bit like arguments which suggest that every programme broadcast on television is invariably aimed at the widest possible audience or ‘lowest common denominator’.15 (This is increasingly true of UK television, but it has not always been the case.) It seems reasonable to suggest that certain comedies, like certain television programmes, were conceived as being more highbrow than others, or more geared towards a minority taste. Even at the level of the individual play, it is possible to see the humour as working simultaneously on more than one level, with some jokes appealing to everyone and other jokes and allusions accessible only to an educated minority.16 I should not want to go so far as to suggest that any comedian saw himself exclusively as writing for highbrow readers of texts, but I think it is clear that our writers increasingly envisaged a dual function for their work – ephemeral performance in public and textual circulation and preservation in private – and that this shaped their conception of ‘literary criticism’. I shall explore these matters at more length in subsequent chapters. But first of all, let us turn to another problem: jokes. 1.2. Getting the jokes How does one go about identifying the presence of humour or irony in a text or (even trickier) a fragment of a lost text? How might one develop strategies for reading humorous texts with an appropriate degree of nuance and sensitivity? Does humour get in the way of criticism, or can one see it as a vehicle for the expression of serious views? There can be no single answer to such questions, but one’s perspective will inevitably vary from author to author and from genre to genre. When Aristotle, for instance, tells us that ‘tragedy is the imitation of an action’ (Poetics 6.1449b24-5), his words may be difficult to understand, but we tend to assume that he wants them to be taken seriously and literally. Even when Aristotle says things that in someone else’s mouth might sound 5

The Comedian as Critic ludicrous, no one ever suspects him of trying to be ironical or jocular. Take the following statement: ‘Characters [in tragedy] should be consistent; or even if the sort of character portrayed is inconsistent, he should be consistently inconsistent’ (Poetics 15.1454a26-8). If one of Aristophanes’ characters were to say this, we would no doubt laugh, but since it is Aristotle speaking, we are predisposed to interpret it as a serious, sober precept.17 Conversely, comedy contains much that is self-evidently absurd, but even when we encounter an apparently serious observation – for example, the claim that poets ‘make people better citizens’ by their advice (Aristophanes, Frogs 1009-10) – the very fact that this appears in a comedy may make us suspect that it is a joke of some sort. If it is a joke, we will have to decide why it is funny, but inevitably this sort of decision will be a personal one, leaving plenty of scope for disagreement. We can never be really certain whether we have got the joke, or whether we have correctly identified or understood the irony. This is not simply because irony and humour are inherently unstable categories, culturally specific to a large degree, and dependent on subjective (and often opaque) thought processes.18 Another, equally important reason is that the jokes themselves embody a high degree of topicality: they are based on specific knowledge and cultural reference points that are inaccessible to us. Why did Aristophanes make so many jokes about Euripides’ mother having been a greengrocer? What was so funny about the tragedian Sthenelus being ‘shorn of his props’? What was so unusual about the noises made by the gods in Carcinus’ plays? ...19 These and numerous other similar questions, despite the best efforts of scholars, are now basically unanswerable. Even within antiquity, much of the humour in old comedy relatively quickly became obsolete or inexplicable: this emerges clearly from the miscellaneous writings and annotations of ancient scholars. Plutarch, writing a few centuries after Aristophanes, complained thus about the obscurity of his jokes: ‘Just as at dinner-parties each guest has his own wine-steward, so every reader requires his own commentator to explain all the details’.20 Many more centuries later, we are likely to find the task of interpretation all the more difficult.21 One helpful approach to the material is suggested by Christopher Pelling, in his judicious discussion of the use of comedy as evidence for the ancient historian. Pelling identifies two questions which we would do well to ask ourselves whenever faced with a scene, or a baffling joke, from old comedy: first, ‘what do the audience need to know if the scene is to make sense?’ and second, ‘what needs to be the case for the comic poet to have written the scene like this?’22 Let us apply this approach to a couple of representative texts. For example: the chorus-leader in Eupolis’ comedy Dippers (fr. 89) says: ‘I collaborated with the bald guy on the Knights and made him a present of them.’ The difficulty of understanding this statement is increased by the fact that it is a meagre fragment, known to us only because it is quoted among the marginalia in a manuscript of Aristophanes’ Clouds. But even if we had the complete text of Dippers in front of us, many unanswerable 6

1. Reading comic criticism questions would remain. Can the speaker here be treated as representing Eupolis’ own voice? Did Eupolis and Aristophanes really collaborate on the comedy Knights, or is Eupolis actually accusing Aristophanes of stealing his material (from Maricas, a ‘demagogue-comedy’ which seems to have been very similar to Aristophanes’ satire on Cleon)? Did the creative process ever involve collaboration or co-authorship of any sort? If Eupolis is complaining about Aristophanes’ behaviour, is he seriously indignant about it, or is this actually good-natured banter based on a familiar system of ironical running jokes? If this is not literally an accusation of plagiarism, is it still inherently agonistic; and, if so, how? Was Aristophanes’ comedy less original than that of Eupolis? How can Eupolis’ claim be reconciled with Aristophanes’ own claims of originality, not to mention other comedians’ similar claims, such as that of Platon, who declared: ‘I was the first to wage war on Cleon ...’ (A Man in Terrible Pain fr. 115)?23 They cannot all be telling the truth. These questions have given rise to a range of conflicting responses, and it seems unlikely that anything like a scholarly consensus will ever be reached.24 Nevertheless, it remains possible, using Pelling’s method, to say something valuable about this fragment. We may not be able to say much about the detailed knowledge that was necessary in order for the audience to make sense of the joke, and we may not be able to identify the comedian who first thought that it would be a good idea to make fun of Cleon or the other demagogues; but a few definite answers can be given about the underlying factors and assumptions that led Eupolis to write these lines in the way that he did. People in the audience were evidently accustomed to treat the voice of the chorus-leader as if it represented the poet’s own voice (whether it really did or not); the naming and discussion of rival poets and plays was openly permitted; the works of rival comedians were openly compared and contrasted in some way; originality of subjectmatter was being put forward in some sense as a criterion for evaluating comic drama; Knights and Maricas resembled one another closely enough for a charge of plagiarism to be broadly plausible or funny on some level – and so on. These general observations reveal quite a lot about the outlook of Eupolis and his audience – which means that they are, in a sense, more valuable than precise details when it comes to constructing literary history. Another example of a joke which eludes definitive explanation is Cratinus fr. 342 (from an unknown comedy).25 The fragment, in full, is: Some subtle spectator – a hyper-pedantic, aperçu-chasing Euripidaristophanizer ( ) – might well ask: ‘Who are you?’

Almost everything about this small fragment is unclear, including the context, the identity of the speaker and even the punctuation. How much of the fragment should appear inside quotation marks, representing the question asked by this imaginary spectator? The following version is equally possible: 7

The Comedian as Critic Some subtle spectator might well ask: ‘Who are you? Are you a hyperpedantic, aperçu-chasing Euripidaristophanizer?’

Most modern editors prefer the first version, since a ‘subtle’ or ‘clever’ ( ) spectator might well also be described as ‘hyper-pedantic’, ‘aperçu-chasing’ and so on, rather than the sort of person who might use these epithets when talking about someone else;26 but this is far from certain – as is much else. Who is being addressed here: is it Cratinus, or one of his characters? How should one best translate these awkward compound words into English? My own translation above is meant to convey a sense of pompous prolixity, but were these expressions intended to be seen as disparaging or satirical? What is their precise meaning or nuance? Are subtlety and cleverness to be seen as desirable qualities that we should imitate, or aberrations that we should subject to ridicule? Is Cratinus being ironical? And (perhaps the most important question of all) what exactly is a ‘Euripidaristophanizer’? Is it someone who likes both Euripides and Aristophanes, or someone who combines certain aspects of both poets – their use of language, perhaps, or their intellectual outlook? The ancient scholar who quotes the fragment interprets the phrase as being essentially a description of Aristophanes himself: that is, Aristophanes ‘is being mocked for making fun of Euripides but also imitating him’.27 This explanation might seem plausible enough: after all, we know that Aristophanes was preoccupied with Euripides to an unusual degree, and included elaborate parodies of Euripides’ plots or verbal mannerisms in many of his comedies.28 Nonetheless, it may be thought that the word ‘imitation’ fails to capture the essence of Aristophanic parody, and opinion is still divided as to whether Aristophanes’ treatment of Euripides (or other intellectuals) amounts to an affectionate accolade or a savagely critical demolition-job.29 Despite all these unanswerable questions, if we ask (once again) ‘what needs to be the case for the author to have written the scene like this?’ it is possible to make some definite progress. It is clear that contemporary audiences perceived a special connection of some sort between Euripides and Aristophanes, and that Cratinus is exploiting this connection in order to distance his own comedy from that of his rival. We can assume that Cratinus is presenting his own work as having nothing to do with Euripides (either as a model for imitation or as a target for criticism). It is also clear that subtlety or cleverness are being put forward in some sense as possible criteria for judging good comedy, and, even though Cratinus’ own views on these qualities are difficult to judge, it is equally clear that subtlety and cleverness were not to everyone’s taste: they obviously had a polarizing function with regard to the audience. (We shall have more to say on the subject of ‘cleverness’ later on in this chapter: see §1.6 below.) An additional small piece of evidence may give us another clue towards the meaning of fr. 342. This is a less widely-cited but directly comparable fragment of Cratinus containing the coinage ‘Choerilecphantides’ 8

1. Reading comic criticism (fr. 502). This compound word is formed in exactly the same way as ‘Euripidaristophanizer’, by sticking together two names. This sort of compound word-play seems to have been a recurrent source of humour throughout old comedy, and was used especially in the naming of plays: one calls to mind such intriguing titles as Cratinus’ Dionysalexandros (Dionysus as Paris), Polyzelus’ Dêmotyndareôs (The People as Tyndareus), Myrtilus’ Titanopanes (Titan-Pans) and so on. It is not easy to see exactly what is denoted by such titles. They might be thought to indicate that a connection was already widely perceived between the two names in question (this is how ‘Euripidaristophanizer’ is normally interpreted), but the joke could also lie in the perceived incongruity of uniting two very different elements in the same word (as in the case of Dionysus and Paris). The significance of the name ‘Choerilecphantides’ is described by Hesychius, who cites it, as follows: ‘Choerilus was the servant of Ecphantides, and he assisted him in writing his comedies’.30 This may seem a plausible enough explanation: after all, comedians often accuse one another of plagiarism or collaboration, and there is a very similar fragment of Aristophanes (fr. 596) in which Euripides’ slave Cephisophon is said to be the co-author of his master’s tragedies. But I wonder whether Hesychius and others have not missed the point of the joke, for Choerilus is actually the name of an early tragic poet. He is nowadays rather an obscure figure, and his works are very poorly represented by a tiny number of scrappy fragments, but in antiquity he was clearly well known and successful.31 It seems to me that the word ‘Choerilecphantides’ is being used by Cratinus in the same way that he uses the word ‘Euripidaristophanizer’ – that is, he is perhaps drawing our attention to the fact that the comedian Ecphantides was obsessed by the tragedy of Choerilus, and somehow poking fun at this obsession. It may well be that Ecphantides extensively parodied Choerilus’ tragedies, or wrote in a way that somehow recalled his style: the surviving fragments of Choerilus’ plays contain some striking and odd phrases which would easily lend themselves to comic parody, while Ecphantides’ own style is mocked by Cratinus elsewhere for its obscurity (or ‘smokiness’).32 Not enough remains of either poet’s work to allow us to be confident that this interpretation is correct; but Ecphantides does (at least) seem to have been interested in cross-generic experimentation (one of his comedies was called Satyrs), and he also expressed his distaste for vulgar, ‘Megarian’ comedy (fr. 3). Both of these facts may suggest that, like Aristophanes, Ecphantides was interested in writing comedy of the sophisticated, intertextual type, characterized by literary parody and stylistic imitation. However, it could be that Ecphantides himself did not consciously set out to model his own work on that of Choerilus, and that Cratinus is the one who is making the connection between the two authors (as it might be for satirical or critical purposes). Whatever the precise explanation of ‘Choerilecphantides’ or ‘Euripidaristophanizing’ may be, it seems that one of Cratinus’ interests as a critic lies in detecting and exploiting affinities between different authors – he is performing a comical sort of literary synkrisis. 9

The Comedian as Critic As before, then, even if we cannot confidently say that we have got the joke, we need not sink into total despair. We can at least identify the criteria on which the joke is based, even if we can not tell precisely how these criteria are being applied – and this sort of information can be extremely useful to the historian of criticism. 1.3. In search of the author One very important difference between the comedians and a writer such as Aristotle lies in the way in which the author’s voice is articulated. The views expounded in a prose treatise can (fairly safely) be assumed to represent the author’s own views on the subject under discussion. In a dramatic text, however, the author’s voice is never heard directly. We encounter a number of different characters speaking, but none of the views expressed, either about literature or about anything else, can be attributed to the author. This fact may seem perfectly obvious, but it is worth stressing because many people have been tempted to forget it – or, at least, to adopt a ‘pick-and-choose’ approach to interpretation, taking selected lines and utterances from the plays and treating them as if they reflected, more or less accurately, the author’s real-life opinions. It is true that certain characters’ words, or certain portions of the plays, seem to be inviting us to treat them as being especially authoritative – one thinks of some of the choral odes, the sentiments of some of the ‘comic heroes’, and (above all) the quasi-autobiographical parabases – but this apparent authority is no more than an illusion. The problem is not just that it is generally dangerous to privilege one point of view over another in a dramatic work consisting of multiple speaking parts. It is more that comedy in particular is an unusually ‘dialogic’ or ‘polyphonic’ genre (to adopt the useful theoretical terminology of Bakhtin).33 That is to say, characters in comedy often seem to incorporate several different voices, either simultaneously or at different points within the drama. This is a genre in which the whole notion of characterization and voice is perpetually, radically unstable.34 There is no ‘safe’ reading of any character’s words. Even the most apparently straightforward or innocuous utterance could be ironical: it could mean the opposite of what it seems to mean, or it could have multiple different meanings at the same time. There is nothing in comedy that we can absolutely rely on as being serious, even (or especially) the bits which tell us that they are serious.35 Everything in comedy, including anything that seems to be an authorial claim or a programmatic statement, is to be imagined as being inside ‘quotation marks’.36 Dicaeopolis in Aristophanes’ Acharnians is one very well known example of a character who might seem to be a mouthpiece for his author’s views. He is the main character (or ‘hero’) of the play, a fact which on its own might make us pay special attention to what he has to say; but early on in the play Dicaeopolis is made to refer to himself explicitly, in the first person, as if he were the author of Aristophanes’ Babylonians. 10

1. Reading comic criticism ‘As for me,’ he says, ‘I know full well what Cleon did to me because of last year’s comedy: he dragged me before the Council, and slandered me ...’ (Acharnians 377-80). A little later, Dicaeopolis delivers a famous speech in which, once again, he presents himself as the representative of Aristophanes – or even of the entire genre of comedy (Acharnians 497503): Begrudge me not, gentlemen of the audience, if I, a mere beggar, venture to speak before the Athenians about politics while I am doing comedy. This is because comedy too understands what is right. What I’m going to tell you is terrible – but it’s right. This time Cleon will not accuse me of disparaging the city in the presence of foreign visitors ...

This passage has been widely read as embodying an important programmatic claim about the nature of comedy (in general) or Aristophanic comedy (in particular).37 It is ostensibly an advertisement for the social function of comedy – its claim to contain a political message for the community, or to be a vehicle for moral teaching in a wider sense, since the repeated emphasis on ‘what is right’ ( ) could be understood as extending beyond the sphere of politics. On the face of it, this could perhaps be read as a more or less straightforward description of Aristophanic comedy. But there are several other layers to the meaning. In the first place, it is obvious that Dicaeopolis is on the defensive: he is arguing against an unspoken assumption that comedy does not understand what is right, and should not be presuming to lecture the Athenians in this way. It is tragedy, not comedy, that was normally seen as possessing this function. In fact, Dicaeopolis is delivering these lines in the guise of a character from tragedy: the entire speech is a parodic version of a similar scene from Euripides’ Telephus.38 Dicaeopolis has disguised himself as Telephus because he thinks that the Athenians will be more willing to listen to advice from a tragic character than from a comic one. When he says that ‘comedy too understands what is right’, he means that comedy as well as tragedy knows what is right. This meaning is made clear by the word that he uses for comedy: not komôidia, but trugôidia – a pun based on the word for tragedy (tragôidia).39 In other words, the supposedly frivolous genre of comedy appears to be making a claim to the seriousness of tragedy, by trying to beat it at its own game. As Helene Foley puts it, in her interesting analysis of the scene, ‘whereas the politicians or the tragedians may use rhetoric and costume to deceive their audience ... Aristophanes uses it to reveal the truth’.40 Is Aristophanes really claiming that comedy is as serious or as politically significant as tragedy? This is not the only possible interpretation (as we shall see a little later on). But, however one reads such claims, it is clear that Dicaeopolis cannot be regarded simply as a mouthpiece for his author’s own views. It is puzzling to discover that the parabasis of Acharnians describes the author’s aims in a way that directly contradicts Dicaeopolis’ claims: that is, the chorus-leader promises that Aristophanes will never stop making fun of what is right ( , 655).41 11

The Comedian as Critic This ought to make us think twice before reading Dicaeopolis’ ‘mission statement’ literally, or treating Dicaeopolis and Aristophanes as identical. For most of the play’s duration, Dicaeopolis does not seem to be ‘Aristophanic’ at all, but speaks in a variety of different ‘voices’.42 In the scene above, we have seen that the voice of Dicaeopolis/Aristophanes is heavily overlaid by the voice of Euripides or Telephus (and we must also remember that Telephus himself was disguised as someone else). Elsewhere Dicaeopolis functions as a character in his own right – a typical, not very bright, Attic farmer, whose idea of political expediency or ‘what is right’ turns out to be a silly, selfish scheme to make a private peace treaty for himself and his own family. This selfish silliness has not stopped some readers seeing him as a personification of social justice, or even of the city of Athens: perhaps this is suggested by the elements that make up his name (dikaio- and polis). On the other hand, certain readers have seen a quite different significance in the name Dikaio-polis: perhaps it is meant to be reminiscent of the nearly synonymous Eu-polis, the name of one of Aristophanes’ rival comedians. Keith Sidwell has suggested that Aristophanes is indulging in ‘ventriloquial paracomedy’ – that is, using the character Dicaeopolis not to articulate his own poetic ideals but rather to parody the sort of claims that Eupolis might make about his poetry.43 If Sidwell is correct (and there is no way of either proving or disproving his suggestion), the question of determining any speaker’s identity takes on an extra dimension of almost mind-boggling complexity. Even if one is sceptical about ‘ventriloquism’ in Sidwell’s sense of the word,44 it is clear that Acharnians is a ‘polyphonic’ comedy in which the author’s voice is unusually difficult to pin down. We know of a few extraordinary plays in which the comedians experimented with the idea of appearing on stage as characters in their own right. It is hard to be quite certain how these ‘authorial appearances’ functioned, but it is fairly clear that the comedians do not mean us to interpret their pronouncements absolutely seriously. They are having fun – exploiting the humorous possibilities of concepts such as authorship and voice, and making it hard for us to decipher their literal meaning (if any). Indeed, their attitude might almost seem to embody a postmodern sort of playfulness. Cratinus – or rather ‘Cratinus’ (the inverted commas are important) – was the main character in his own play The Wine-Flask, the plot of which revolved round his attempts to give up drink. It seems that Cratinus was gamely playing up to his own reputation for being an alcoholic, ‘blocked’ writer, well past his prime (a reputation for which his rival Aristophanes may have been largely responsible): the play would have been funny for this reason alone, even if it did not contain a single shred of genuinely autobiographical detail.45 An ancient commentator tells us that Aristophanes defended his own poetry in person, in the comedy Women Claiming Tent-Sites, saying: ‘I make use of his [Euripides’] well-rounded style, but my intellect is less vulgar than his’ (fr. 488). This fragment shows that something purporting 12

1. Reading comic criticism to be the voice of Aristophanes was heard in that play, but this need not imply that this voice was authentic. Aristophanes is exploiting his own reputation as someone who was obsessed by Euripides, but (as we have already observed) the question of his actual opinions on the tragedian or his style remains difficult to answer. It is not absolutely certain that this play contained a character actually called ‘Aristophanes’; it may be that Aristophanes used another character as his mouthpiece in selected scenes (like Dicaeopolis). One of Susarion’s plays definitely did feature someone called ‘Susarion’, who addressed the audience with the following nugget of traditional wisdom (fr. 1): Listen up, people! Susarion, son of Philinus of Megara, inhabitant of Tripodiscus, is speaking! Women are an evil thing – but, all the same, demesmen, without this evil you can’t call your house a home. Yes, it is an evil thing either to get married or to stay unmarried ...

Here Susarion is not casually naming himself but going to some lengths to identify himself in detail, including his birthplace and patronymic: he is underlining his identity in an unusually emphatic way. Of course, this emphasis on detail does not necessarily mean that we are hearing the views of the real-life Susarion. These lines might be completely ironical. Perhaps the audience knew something about Susarion’s marital life that undercut these sentiments in some way. Or (as Kassel and Austin suggest) Susarion may also be parodying the sort of authorial ‘signature’ (sphragis) adopted by more serious authors such as Hecataeus, Herodotus and others at the beginning of their works.46 Or perhaps the joke may lie in the contrast between the extreme, rather pompous formality of address and the banality of the ‘advice’ offered to the audience. Susarion’s self-important claim to be giving useful guidance to the citizens mirrors the similar claims made by Dicaeopolis in Acharnians, and is equally useless in practical terms: his advice for life is no more than the clichéd, misogynistic grumbling of any hen-pecked husband in comedy. Characters bearing their author’s name may have been comparatively rare, but it was obviously common practice for the chorus-leader temporarily to assume a quasi-authorial role in the section known as the parabasis (which means, literally, ‘a stepping-forward’). Many parabases seem to have been used precisely in order to articulate programmatic-sounding claims about the literary merits of the work under consideration: 47 [I am not] laundering and bleaching other people’s ideas ... (Lysippus, Bacchantes fr. 4) I vary my plot scene-by-scene, in order to feast the spectators with many and varied novel side-dishes ... (Metagenes, The Man Who Liked Sacrifices fr. 15) Listen up, spectators, and take in what I’m saying; for right here at the start I’m going to defend myself to you ... (Eupolis fr. 392)


The Comedian as Critic And I myself, being the poet that I am, do not preen myself, nor do I seek to fool you by presenting the same material two or three times over. No – I am clever enough to bring out novel conceptions every time: not one of them is anything like the others, and all of them are ingenious! (Aristophanes, Clouds 545-8)

The passages above are quoted at random; one could supply numerous other examples of the same sort of technique. Given the slipperiness of other ‘authorial’ utterances in comedy, it is surprising how often these claims are read as being more or less completely literal. Nevertheless, they are no more literal or reliable than any other utterances in comedy. The parabasis is just one among several types of conventional comic scene – a highly stylized, highly artificial creation. As Ralph Rosen puts it, the parabasis is the most sustained, overt way of ‘playing out’ the claim to a real-life relationship between the author and the audience, but it is important to keep remembering that it is just a fiction.48 The nearest comparable phenomenon in our own culture, perhaps, is the persona that a stand-up comedian might adopt on stage: such a persona may have recognizable elements in common with the real-life identity of the comedian, but it is essentially part of the act.49 The bottom line is that we can never trust a single word that is said by anyone in a comedy, even – or perhaps especially – when they seem to be articulating self-conscious claims about the play in which they appear. One of the central arguments of this book is that anything resembling a programmatic statement of poetic intent is almost certainly ambivalent or ironical (to a greater or lesser degree). At the very least, we have to consider a range of possible interpretations before taking such statements at face value. The comedians are, of course, perfectly aware that their audiences were used to reading poetry or drama as if it could give them unmediated access to the voice or opinions of the author. This mode of reading has been extremely common since the very earliest times, and remains widespread today (despite the strictures of modern literary theorists).50 Whenever we read a text, it can be hard to suppress an instinctive feeling that its author is communicating directly with us, or that we can somehow get to know the author personally through his words.51 But the relationship between author and audience is more complicated than this, and the author is a much more elusive and distant figure than we would like to think. Even in the earliest Greek poetry, including material performed in front of an audience by the poets themselves, the first-personal ‘I’ was never exactly straightforward. The poet-figure of epic and lyric was always (at least in part) a fictional construct – a persona, generated according to the demands of the occasion or the poetic conventions of the genre in question.52 The fifth-century comedians were not the first to exploit the slipperiness of the authorial voice, but they did play around with the concept – and draw their audiences’ attention to the fact – in a much more overt and 14

1. Reading comic criticism provocative way than any other poet had previously done. Their ludic treatment of voice may strike us as entertaining or infuriating, but it seems to me that it may also have an additional, more serious point: it is designed to expose the problems inherent in the traditional, authorcentred approach to interpretation. In other words, Aristophanes and others can be seen as identifying authorship and authority as distinct topics of interest to the critic, as well as questioning the widely held idea that the real-life author can be located within the text. In this respect, one might almost say that the comedians are anticipating the concerns of twentieth-century literary theorists, especially Roland Barthes and his notion of ‘the death of the author’. Barthes and the comedians, for all their obvious differences in background and outlook, are exploring the same sort of problems about the respective roles of the author and the reader in the creation of meaning. If the figure of the author who emerges from comedy is not quite dead (in Barthes’ sense), he is certainly evanescent. The comedians’ interest in authorship extends beyond the selective expression or suppression of their own voice. They also exhibit a fondness for portraying other authors as characters in their plays – including ‘Agathon’ (in Aristophanes’ Women at the Thesmophoria), ‘Aeschylus’ (in Pherecrates’ Small Fry and Aristophanes’ Frogs), ‘Sophocles’ (in Phrynichus’ Muses), ‘Meletus’, ‘Sannyrion’ and ‘Cinesias’ (in Aristophanes’ Gerytades), ‘Euripides’ (in Aristophanes’ Acharnians, Frogs, Women at the Thesmophoria, Proagon, Drama(s) and various other comedies), and so on. By putting these characters on stage, the comedians could pretend to be giving their audiences a series of authentic, real-life encounters with figures that they thought they knew and understood through acquaintance with their works. However, these encounters turn out to be rather challenging. Such characters may share certain recognizable attributes with their real-life counterparts, but they are always heavily fictionalized, and often simply ludicrous caricatures. For instance, Agathon, the ‘famous’ author of successful tragedies (Thesm. 29-30), is depicted as a flamboyant transvestite who seems to believe that the key to good writing is to dress up as one’s characters (171-2). Euripides might be portrayed either as languidly reclining inside a house filled with theatrical paraphernalia, too lazy or effete to rise and greet his guests (Acharnians 410-13), or as a hopeless buffoon on the run from vengeful women whom he has ‘slandered’ in his tragedies (Thesm. 181-2 and passim). Aeschylus appears as a pompous old bore, who professes to know all about life but has never even had a girlfriend (Frogs 10435). None of these supposed authorial encounters can really be said to illuminate the poets or their work. A recurrent feature of such depictions is that the poets in question are being sought out for assistance or advice. Aeschylus in Frogs is brought back to life in the hope that he will be able to save the city of Athens, and a similar purpose seems to have prompted the embassy to the dead poets in Gerytades; Agathon in Women at the Thesmophoria is asked to 15

The Comedian as Critic help his fellow-poet Euripides by pleading on his behalf; and Dicaeopolis approaches Euripides in Acharnians in order to get help when he wants to make a persuasive speech in front of the Assembly. This running theme is clearly based on the idea (already mentioned above) that one of the essential functions of literature is that of providing political advice or practical guidance for life. However, the motif of ‘characters in search of an author’ may also be seen as loosely analogous to the process of reading and interpretation. Often we might be tempted to think that meeting an author in real life and asking them questions would help us to understand their work more clearly, but Aristophanes seems to be implicitly denying this possibility. All of these considerations may well make us less inclined to believe ‘Agathon’ when he expounds the principle that poetry is a reflection of its author’s life or character (Thesm. 167-71): Agathon: We needs must compose poetry according to our nature (physis). Relative of Euripides: That explains, then, why Philocles, being a terrible man, writes terribly, and why Xenocles, being a bad man, writes badly, and again why Theognis, being cold, writes coldly. Agathon: Yes, it must be so.

Must it be so? We shall return to this passage, and the problematic relationship between art and life, in more depth later on (see §4.5 below). For the time being, it is becoming clear, I think, that what we need is an audience-centred approach to comedy rather than an author-centred approach. That is, when we try to make sense of comic criticism, the question that we should be asking is not ‘what is the author saying about this material?’ but rather ‘why might people in the audience have found this material funny?’ 1.4. Comic refraction Comedy was not written with academic analysis in mind; indeed, it often seems to have been written precisely in order to elude serious analysis. One important difference between comic criticism and literary criticism ‘proper’ is that the comedians’ aims, whatever they may have been, certainly do not include explaining literary theories and concepts for the benefit of the audience. This fact is worth emphasizing, even though it might seem rather obvious, not least because it implies that comedy was written for people who already knew and understood the concepts on which the jokes were based. In fact, the way in which literary-critical ideas and terminology are presented in comedy is such as to suggest that the comedians are almost always playing around with concepts that were already current, rather than introducing new ideas of their own. This is not to suggest that no comedian ever had an original thought; nor is it to downplay the importance of comic criticism. Often their playful presentation of ideas can be seen as having a serious function – that is, reducing problematic concepts to absurdity, exposing clichés, questioning 16

1. Reading comic criticism or implicitly rejecting prevalent theories, criticizing lazy or conventional thinking, or just stimulating the audience to think more deeply about critical matters in general.53 Much of what we see in comedy might be said to have a metacritical function, in that it criticizes, or provides a sort of commentary upon, criticism itself. Comedy can be used to illuminate the serious world of ideas, but it would not be quite accurate to say that it reflects those ideas in any straightforward way. Rather, everything appears in exaggerated or distorted form, as it might be in a refracting mirror. Comedians should not be expected to provide unity, consistency or coherence. Nothing in comedy can be relied on to make sense (as such). Indeed, we are very often confronted with nonsense – albeit a sophisticated, fascinating type of nonsense. In the remainder of this introductory chapter I discuss two specific areas where we can observe the process of comic ‘refraction’ at work. First of all, there is the idea that literature is ‘useful’ to society: I suggest that the comedians are subjecting this idea to scrutiny, and that any claims to the effect that comedy itself is ‘useful’ may be read ironically. Secondly, there is ‘cleverness’, a word which is ostensibly presented as a criterion for judging literary excellence, but which turns out to be a problematic and inherently ambivalent quality. 1.5. The social utility of literature We have already mentioned Dicaeopolis’ big speech in Acharnians, in which he argues that comedy is useful in a political or moral sense (‘trugôidia too understands what is right’). Despite the problems involved in pinning down the identity of the speaker, this speech is normally read more or less literally, as a programmatic statement of comedy’s generic aims and ambitions. Comedy seems to be presenting itself as a serious, political sort of poetry – a claim that seems to emerge even more explicitly from the play’s parabasis (Acharnians 651), in which the chorus-leader describes the poet’s role as that of an adviser ( ) to the city. However, it is hard to be confident that this is the correct or only possible reading of the scene. If we ask what the audience needed to know in order for the scene to make sense, the answer is that tragedy was obviously seen (by some people, at least) as having a serious political or didactic function. The whole Euripides/Telephus episode is based on this underlying premise: it makes sense only if we assume that literature, and tragedy in particular, was already widely regarded as a vehicle for conveying ‘lessons’ or ‘messages’ of some sort. This alleged function is widely attested elsewhere in the later critical tradition (in the work of writers such as Plato and Aristotle),54 and it seems likely that it was already widespread in Aristophanes’ time. For instance, Xenophanes’ criticisms of Homer and Hesiod stem from a fear that people may learn the wrong lessons from reading their poetry, while the writer of the sophistic Dissoi Logoi, who declared that poets write for the sake 17

The Comedian as Critic of pleasure, not in order to impart the truth, is clearly trying to make a provocative contribution to an ongoing debate.55 Aristophanes too is making some sort of contribution to the debate, or playing around with the idea in some way, but this is all that we can say for certain. It seems to me that several plausible, but rather different, interpretations can be given:56 (a) Aristophanes is claiming that his own comedy is to be seen as especially serious and useful; (b) Aristophanes is drawing the audience’s attention to his own interest in tragedy and the fact that his particular type of comedy – trugôidia – is to be defined in relation to tragedy (in some way); (c) Aristophanes is claiming that comedy in general, despite its widelyperceived status as a frivolous, unimportant genre, can claim to be as serious, committed and socially beneficial as its sibling genre tragôidia; (d) Aristophanes is presenting his comedy as having a useful political function because – whether or not it was true – this was a rhetorically effective form of self-defence calculated to appeal to the highly politicized theatre audience. We might compare Russell’s observation that ‘the “didacticist” view of poetry is perhaps always the product of a situation in which poetry appears to need defence’;57 (e) Aristophanes is questioning whether tragedy should be seen as a didactic or political medium at all (and, perhaps, arguing with certain specific poets or critics who had presented it as such); (f) Aristophanes is implicitly criticizing Euripides (perhaps on the grounds that, even though tragedy in general was meant to be serious and didactic, Euripidean tragedy in particular somehow failed to achieve these grand ambitions);58 (g) Aristophanes is questioning whether any poet ever explicitly sets out to give practical advice in his poetry. Perhaps he inclines, rather, to view poetry as providing a diversion from the problems of everyday life; (h) Eupolis made a claim similar to (a) or (b) above, and Aristophanes is using the figure of ‘Dicaeopolis’ to parody Eupolis and ridicule his selfimportance (or the specific political message that he was promoting); (i) Aristophanes is acknowledging that comedy may genuinely have serious, political or didactic aims, but prefers (for whatever reason) to leave his audience in the dark as regards his own aims. He uses polyphony, irony and self-contradiction to make his own position impossible to pin down (as when, for example, he apparently claims that he will both champion and make fun of ‘what is right’); (j) Aristophanes is pretending to make a serious claim on behalf of comedy, but it is meant to be seen as ironical or ludicrous, since comedy is self-evidently a silly genre with nothing ‘useful’ to teach us at all.59 Any claims about the usefulness of comedy, or the superiority of comedy to tragedy, are funny precisely because they are so obviously untrue; (k) Aristophanes wants his audience to reflect more broadly on the differences between the aims of a dramatist and the uses to which his 18

1. Reading comic criticism work is put (that is, either tragedy or comedy might be used didactically by other people with their own agenda, even if the author never intended it to have any ‘message’ or ‘lesson’ as such). These eleven interpretations do not exhaust the possibilities: no doubt one could come up with further variants along similar lines (not to mention other quite different readings that have not occurred to me). The fact that the passage can support so many different interpretations, some of which are mutually contradictory, ought to make us wary of trying to decide which is the ‘correct’ reading. It seems to me that the text invites multiple readings: it is deliberately indeterminate. This is not the same as saying that Aristophanes is denying the possibility of any sort of meaning or commitment at all: it may still be true that some readings are more plausible than others. Those who prefer to think that Aristophanes, despite his ironical or playful attitude, is basically endorsing the ‘didacticist’ view of comedy can point to several other passages in which Aristophanes ostensibly makes similar declarations about the social utility of his own poetry. His characters or ‘mouthpieces’ state that his plays have benefited the Athenians specifically by attacking monstrous figures (such as Cleon) who have been damaging their interests. It is said by one chorus-leader that Aristophanic comedy ‘attacks the most powerful men, with the spirit of a Heracles’ (Wasps 1030-5); that its author repeatedly and fearlessly ‘declares war on the audience’s behalf’ (ibid. 1036-7); that he is a ‘defence against evil’ and a ‘purifier of the land’ (ibid. 1043). Another chorus-leader declares that the function of Aristophanes’ comedy includes offering guidance on electing generals, and claims to be able to teach the citizens how to learn from their past mistakes (Clouds 575-94). Similar passages elsewhere seem to promise that Aristophanes ‘takes risks in saying what is right’ (Knights 510-11 – again), that his comedy has a ‘point’ or ‘moral’ to get across ( , Wasps 64), or that he ‘fights’ against enemies of the state and is a public benefactor (Peace 736-58).60 A comparable claim appears at Wasps 650-1, where the character Bdelycleon says: It is a difficult undertaking, requiring formidable intellect, and beyond the power of comedians ( ), to cure a chronic disease which is thoroughly entrenched within the city.

As MacDowell observes in his commentary, this statement seems to mean that ‘comedy normally deals with trivial subjects, not with subjects of fundamental importance to the state; Aristophanes regards this part of his play as being above the normal level of comedy’.61 But the crucial point is that the word used for ‘comedians’ here is trugôidoi – the same word used in Dicaeopolis’ big speech. Comedy quite often refers to itself as trugôidia precisely at the point when it is asking us to see it as a rival, 19

The Comedian as Critic or alternative, to tragedy, and precisely at the point where the alleged social function of the respective genres is in question.62 Aristophanic comedy, it is implied, can ‘cure’ the city’s ills more effectively than any other comedy and more effectively than tragedy. Bdelycleon’s words are particularly interesting because of the analogy that they draw between the power of literature and the power of medicine: this analogy is almost without parallel in fifth-century writings, but in some sense it obviously foreshadows the Aristotelian view of katharsis as a therapeutic function of drama.63 All the same, none of these passages can be treated as if they straightforwardly represented Aristophanes’ own views: we have already examined some of the problems involved with identifying the poet’s voice in comedy, and many readers will no doubt take the view that these solemn-sounding claims are ironical or tongue-in-cheek. Can we really take Aristophanes at his word when he describes himself, in fabulously exaggerated language, as a crusading hero in the Heraclean mould, or announces that he is ‘the world’s best and most renowned producer of comedies’?64 Surely self-deflation and irony are more in keeping with the spirit of comedy than pompous self-satisfaction. But these ‘serious’ claims are also being undermined in other ways – such as the fact that Aristophanes often contradicts himself. For instance, in Peace it seems that Aristophanes explicitly rejects war as a subject of poetry but also describes his own poetry in terms of a ‘battle’ or ‘fight’;65 in the same play he seemingly refers to himself as simultaneously both ‘democratic’ and ‘noble’;66 while in Acharnians (as already noted), different characters who seem to represent the poet say that they will both uphold and make fun of ‘what is right’. And then there is the equally problematic fact that the ‘message’ of the plays, even when we can discern one at all, often turns out to be silly, useless or banal. As numerous studies have shown, it is almost impossible to extract anything resembling political ‘teaching’ or ‘advice’ from any comedy, and equally difficult to find evidence that anyone at Athens ever took any notice of comedy (or, for that matter, tragedy) when making political decisions.67 It also strikes me as suggestive that none of the comedians ever seem to have accused one another of giving bad advice to the city – but that is precisely the sort of accusation one would expect to find all over the place (is it not?), if giving advice were really the accepted function of comedy. Comedians may be concerned with serious issues – that is, they may raise genuine questions or identify problems – but it is hard to discern whether they are saying anything serious about these issues. On balance, it seems more likely (to me, at least) that we are dealing with a running series of jokes about serious intentions, and all that is implied by that phrase, rather than literal claims to be giving advice to the audience. However, it is possible that some comedians were more serious than others. The outspokenness of Aristophanes’ boasts may deceive us into thinking that he was unusual or even unique in his view of the function of drama, but Eupolis too depicted himself as a ‘useful’ poet with something 20

1. Reading comic criticism to teach his audience.68 Not only did he, like Aristophanes, call his own genre trugôidia (Demes fr. 99), but he also, in his ‘demagogue-comedy’ Maricas, addressed his audience as if he were a schoolmaster dismissing his class (fr. 192.13-15),69 and even (apparently) claimed that he could make his audience wise and serious – as in the following fragment (fr. 205, including the surrounding citation from Aristides): Indeed, I have heard of a certain comedian who talks solemnly and makes the following marvellous claims ... one of these poets, boasting at the start of his play, like a prophet, declares: ‘It is time for all the audience members to wake up and rub their eyes to get rid of the [other] poets’ ephemeral nonsense ...’ ...just as if on that very day he intended to make them all serious and clever.

Eupolis is pretending that the spectators have dropped off to sleep while listening to the other comedies in the competition. This is most obviously interpreted as a sign that his rivals’ efforts were soporifically boring, but perhaps there is an additional point being implied: a contrast between two opposing conceptions of the purpose of poetry. Should poetry enchant its audience, lulling them into forgetting about their cares, or should it offer them a practical education?70 Eupolis is implicitly endorsing the latter view, as well as proclaiming that his own work fulfils this purpose better than other comedy. The manner in which Aristides talks about Eupolis’ solemn, ‘prophetic’ manner implies that his self-justificatory boasts were extraordinarily forthright, and the fact that this statement of didactic intent came right at the start of the play would have given it particular emphasis. Of course, there is no reason to be confident that the voice of Eupolis, as heard in Maricas, was necessarily any less ironical or slippery than the voice of Aristophanes. Nevertheless, this piece of evidence may, perhaps, lend added weight to the idea (suggested by Bowie, Sidwell and others) that Aristophanes’ pompous persona in Acharnians and elsewhere is actually a parodic distortion of the sort of persona adopted more seriously by Eupolis. We need to keep Eupolis firmly in mind when it comes to interpreting Aristophanes’ Frogs, a play that exploits the concept of socially ‘useful’ drama more thoroughly than any other extant comedy. It seems to me that Frogs is also trying to undermine this concept: it explores the tension between what one might call ‘utilitarian’ and ‘autonomous’ views of art, and can be read as implying that the most important thing about poetry is not political advice but good writing.71 But this is not the only, or the most obvious, interpretation of that play. Indeed, Frogs is full of lines which, if quoted out of context or read completely straight, can seem to represent Aristophanes’ own poetic credo.72 Its chorus members, quite early on in the play, pray to Demeter that they may say ‘much that is funny and much that is serious’ (389-90), and the parabasis (which consists of some apparently humourless advice about naval policy and the treatment of disenfranchised Athenians) begins with the solemn pronouncement: ‘It is right for the sacred chorus to give good advice and teaching to the 21

The Comedian as Critic city’ (686-7). The plot of Frogs in general (or, at least, the second half of the play) depends on the assumption that the best people to save the beleaguered city of Athens would naturally be tragic poets; and the poetic contest which takes place between ‘Euripides’ and ‘Aeschylus’ is based in part on the view that poetry was supposed to be didactic and ‘useful’. The following exchange between the poets (1008-10) is often quoted in this respect: Aeschylus: Tell me, then, for what qualities ought one to admire a poet? Euripides: For skill and good advice, and because we turn people into better citizens.

‘Aeschylus’ clearly agrees with this general precept, as he goes on to affirm a little later (1030-6): That is just the task to which poets ought to devote themselves. Just think how useful the noble poets have been, even from the earliest times – why, Orpheus revealed the mysteries to us, and taught us to avoid murder, and Musaeus told us about oracles and how to treat illnesses, and Hesiod taught us about agriculture, ploughing and seasonal produce; and what about the divine Homer? What was the source of his respect and fame, except the teaching of useful lessons about military tactics, virtue and the kitting-out of troops?

Indeed, a large portion of the contest centres on the particular ‘lessons’ that Aeschylus and Euripides are supposed to have taught. ‘Aeschylus’ claims to have taught the citizens to be more noble (1018), and to have used his tragedies Seven Against Thebes and Persians precisely in order to instil a martial spirit in the spectators: ‘I taught them always to be eager to conquer their enemies, and achieved an excellent result’ (10267). Euripides, by contrast, is criticized for having harmed the community by filling his plays with loose women, incestuous siblings, inane chatter, immoral behaviour and similarly disturbing subject matter (1043-88). ‘It is the poet’s duty to conceal vice, not bring it out on stage and teach it,’ concludes ‘Aeschylus’ sententiously (1053-4): his views sound almost like those of Plato in the Republic. The fact that Aeschylus, soi-disant teacher of good old-fashioned moral values, wins the contest and goes back to assist the Athenians may be a sign that Aristophanes is endorsing the ‘didacticist’ view of poetry. But (as usual) we can also interpret this outcome ironically, as a critique either of the didacticist position in general or of Aeschylus’ suitability as a teacher of the Athenians. A number of factors make me more inclined to prefer an ironic reading of Frogs. Even if we ignore all the other problems and complications that we have been discussing so far, it is striking that the supposed ‘lessons’ taught by Aeschylus’ and Euripides’ plays are ludicrous, just as the lessons which ‘Aeschylus’ claims to have learnt from Homer, Hesiod et al. turn out to be crude oversimplifications or misreadings. Only the most inattentive reader, surely, would interpret 22

1. Reading comic criticism Persians and Seven against Thebes as pro-war propaganda; and even if one does take a naïvely militaristic reading of these plays, Aeschylus’ apparent claim that he is largely responsible for the Greeks’ victory over the Persians (1027) is nonsensical – quite apart from anything else, these plays were only performed several years after the defeat of the Persian invasion. Similarly, it is difficult to believe that Euripides literally caused a decline in Athenian morals, political life and athletic achievement (1078-88). When the respective poets are asked for suggestions as to how they would solve the Athenians’ problems in 405 BC, their ideas are far from useful. Aeschylus equivocally quotes verses from his own plays, before (seemingly) advocating complete reliance on the fleet (1463-5), a solution which in 405 would not have been uncontroversial.73 Euripides’ proposal, on the other hand, is childishly inept: a sort of flying-machine to spray vinegar at the enemy, rather in the manner of a deus ex machina from one of his plays (1437-53). It seems to me that the idea of poetic ‘advice’ is being pursued to absurd lengths, and Aristophanes is actually making fun of doggedly literal attempts to extract ‘lessons’ from poetry. However, as I said above, Eupolis is an even more crucial factor in interpreting Frogs. As soon as one realizes that the entire conception of Frogs is a parodic re-hash of Eupolis’ Demes, it becomes much more difficult to read anything in Frogs at face value. Unfortunately, Demes is almost completely lost, but enough survives to show that it was based on a premise almost identical to that of Frogs.74 The city is in crisis, and an attempt is made to solve the crisis by bringing back to life a selection of dead politicians from the past (Solon, Miltiades, Aristides and Pericles). Of course, even in Eupolis’ version, this solution is farfetched: it has no practical application in terms of real-life politics, and, even if it were possible to raise the dead, the particular individuals whom Eupolis resuscitates would not have been unquestionably seen as the best people to help Athens in the current situation.75 Nevertheless, Eupolis’ basic assumption that politicians are the best people to save the city is not intrinsically silly. Aristophanes’ version, on the other hand, distorts Eupolis’ original idea by substituting poets for politicians, and it may be that this is supposed to be funny precisely because it is an intrinsically silly idea.76 Poetry may be used for various ends, but it is not ‘useful’ in the sense that it literally offers practical advice or strategic guidance. Any apparently serious claims in Frogs concerning the social utility of poetry should be read in the light of Demes. The shadow of Eupolis makes it seem less likely that Aristophanes is to be read completely ‘straight’, but it does not solve the problem of what Aristophanes is saying about Eupolis or about the idea of the poet-as-teacher. Perhaps he is hinting that political interpretation of poetry should be done in a more nuanced way than was customary. Or perhaps he is implying, more radically, that any sort of political reading misses the point of poetry. Readers of Frogs have often been struck by the fact that the play seems to change direction half-way through: Dionysus’ journey begins simply as a quest to find his 23

The Comedian as Critic favourite poet, but it unexpectedly turns into an attempt to use poetry to save the city of Athens.77 The criteria for judging poetic excellence initially seem to have nothing to do with politics, but rather include poetic skill (technê), verbal dexterity and the ability to coin unexpected or adventurous phrases; and the contest between the tragedians, similarly, begins as a contest of words, based on stylistic considerations rather than the content of the plays.78 Gradually, however, the issues at stake seem to alter, so that Aeschylus and Euripides are finally judged according to their socio-political content. Towards the end of the play, when Dionysus is trying to decide which poet to take back to earth, he says: ‘I came down to the Underworld in search of a poet. Why did I do this? So that the city may be saved’ (1418-19). He seems to have changed his mind completely about the nature of poetry and the function of criticism. Many of Aristophanes’ readers will surely have found this change of direction jarring and unsatisfactory. But the tension between the different ways of evaluating poetry (‘utilitarian’ vs ‘autonomous’) has not been resolved – far from it. At the close of the play, it is the contradictory and muddled quality of Dionysus’ thinking that strikes us, as well as the arbitrariness of his eventual decision to name Aeschylus the winner.79 Political considerations seem to have gone out of the window altogether, as Dionysus, havering wildly, says: ‘On the one hand, I consider him a clever (sophos) poet,’ he says, ‘but on the other hand, he gives me pleasure’ (1413). This shows that even within antiquity people were capable of distinguishing between great literature and the sort of stuff they actually enjoyed reading – what Bourdieu calls the ‘duty ethic’ vs the ‘fun ethic’.80 (We have all felt like this at times: we know we ought to admire Proust, but we guiltily prefer Agatha Christie.) But why should Dionysus introduce this wholly new criterion at such a late stage? And which poet is which, anyway? It is left tantalizingly uncertain, and Dionysus’ final decision turns out to be more or less random, based on his own subjective and irrational preferences: ‘I shall choose whomever my heart tells me to choose’ (1468).81 To conclude this section, then, it seems that Aristophanes is playing around with the various comic possibilities suggested by the ‘utilitarian’ or ‘didacticist’ approach to literature. The humour depends on the fact that this sort of approach was well known to many or most people in his audience: the comedian is not presenting it to them for the first time, but having fun by distorting or refracting ideas that were already in the air. His own position is not easy to pin down, but on the whole it seems that he is implicitly questioning the idea that poetry is a source of prescriptive teaching, and it may well be that he is more radically undermining the whole idea of socially ‘useful’ poetry. Frogs won first prize in the 405 Lenaea: this is said to have been directly due to the trenchant quality of Aristophanes’ own political advice in the parabasis.82 If this is true, I suspect that Aristophanes would have been enormously tickled by the irony. 24

1. Reading comic criticism 1.6. The importance of being clever The ambivalent, elusive character of comic criticism is illustrated particularly well by the words sophos and dexios: these are practically synonymous words which are normally translated into English as ‘clever’. These words, which have already cropped up several times in the passages discussed above, occupy a particularly prominent place in the comedians’ evaluative terminology, suggesting (on the face of it) that cleverness is a concept of great importance. Nevertheless, it is hard to say precisely what it means for a poet to be sophos or dexios. Is cleverness a source of excellence in literature? Perhaps it can be, but it is not invariably so. In fact, ‘cleverness’ turns out to be a highly appropriate and characteristic term for the comedians to use, precisely because it combines positive and negative meanings simultaneously. Rather like the English word ‘cleverness’, sophia or dexiotês can be used as terms of approval or disapproval: these are inherently ambivalent words. In particular, they tend to be used of those people, or things, that we admire without liking very much, and they can often imply that the subject being described is too clever for his own good (for instance, a rhetorician who declaims a speech in praise of salt, or a nine-year-old Mensa member who can recite the number to ten thousand decimal points).83 One can find numerous examples of both types of usage throughout Greek literature. Sophia began life as an all-purpose term denoting skill or knowledge in any given field of activity,84 but it is found in several places as a word describing poetic ability in particular.85 Pindar, notably, contrasts the truly gifted poet, whom he calls sophos, with other inferior poetasters who have merely ‘learned’ the art.86 Wisdom or knowledge, in a broad sense, had long been seen as characteristic attributes of poets, whose function, as we have already seen, might be thought to include an explicitly didactic or moralizing role. But in the last few decades of the fifth century, sophos and dexios seem to have subtly altered their meaning, so as to denote, among other things, a new sort of wit or sophistication – the sort of quality, in fact, embodied by the ‘sophists’ (whose very name implies an abundance of sophia).87 Gorgias seems to have talked about sophia remarkably often, and his fragmentary remains contain several dinky aperçus such as ‘cleverness is the proper adornment of the soul’, ‘he who is deceived is cleverer (sophôtatos) than someone who is not deceived’, and so on.88 Socrates famously questioned the nature of sophia, and doubted whether the sort of sophia professed by Gorgias and others was the same as true wisdom.89 Other late fifth-century writers also seem to be questioning the meaning of the word, or employing it in an unusual, marked sense. Thucydides (who, interestingly, uses the word very sparingly) invariably gives it an intellectually or morally pejorative edge: for him, sophismata are devious tricks and sophoi are dangerous or deceptive people. For 25

The Comedian as Critic example, Cleon’s speech in the Mytilenean debate (3.37-8) draws a pointed contrast between those people who wish to appear cleverer than the laws ( ) and those who are truly intelligent, before going on to disparage the sophists and their compliant audiences or pupils.90 As in Socrates’ criticisms of the sophists, a distinction is being made between apparent and genuine cleverness. On the other hand, Euripides (who refers to cleverness much more often) sometimes uses the word sophos in an apparently positive sense, as when he refers to ‘the voice of writingtablets in which clever people are celebrated’ (Erechtheus fr. 369), or when he criticizes the recognition-tokens in Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers, saying they are ‘unworthy of a clever person’ (Electra 524).91 But at other times Euripidean sophia has more ambiguous or troubling overtones, as when one character is advised to reject ‘clever, pretentious stuff’ ( ... , Antiope fr. 188.5), or when the chorus in Bacchae (395-6) declare that ‘what we call clever is not the same as wisdom’ ( ).92 In general, cleverness seems to have become something of a buzz-word in Athenian society and culture. (When Strepsiades in Clouds asks his son to tell him ‘some of that clever stuff, whatever it is’ ( , 1370), his phrasing implies that people were widely talking about ‘clever stuff’: he has heard of it, even though he doesn’t fully understand what it is.) All of this contemporary evidence must be borne in mind when trying to interpret the tone and meaning of the comedians’ references to cleverness. On the basis of the parabasis of Aristophanes’ Clouds, one might well think that cleverness was a straightforwardly positive and desirable quality, though not one that was universally appreciated by the audience: I should like to win first prize and to be considered clever (sophos) – so much so that I judged it right to let you have first taste of this, my cleverest (sophôtatê) comedy, which has cost me a great deal of effort, because I thought that you were clever (dexioi) spectators. But then I went away unfairly defeated by vulgar men – and for that I blame you clever (sophoi) people, for whose sake I undertook all that labour. All the same, though, I shall never deliberately betray the clever ones (dexioi) among you (Clouds 520-7).

If we interpret these lines as a literal statement of Aristophanes’ own position, we may assume that ‘clever’ is a term of high praise: Aristophanes seemingly wants us to think that he himself is a clever poet. In a few other passages, too, Aristophanes uses sophos or dexios to refer to his own work.93 Aristophanes was not alone in trumpeting his own cleverness.94 One could also quote similar claims from other comedians, such as Cratinus’ barbed observation that his audience are ‘the best possible judge of our cleverness (sophia) – except on the festival day itself!’ (fr. 360); or his remark that nothing clever (sophon) could ever issue from the pen of a teetotal writer (The Wine-Flask, fr. 203); or Eupolis’ complaint (fr. 392) that his audience judges certain foreign poets to be more clever (sophoi) than Eupolis himself. Nevertheless, we have 26

1. Reading comic criticism already seen the dangers of reading these self-justificatory claims too literally. In fact, most of the other comic references to sophia or dexiotês are distinctly double-edged. For instance, when Aristophanes and Cratinus both describe their rival poets as ‘clever men’, one suspects that they are being deeply sarcastic: this is certainly the case when Dionysus in Frogs describes the awful efforts of the second-rate comedians Phrynichus, Lysis and Ameipsias as ‘clever stuff’ ( , 17).95 When the same word is used to describe oral sex by a character in Theopompus’ Odysseus (fr. 36: ‘I call it a sophisma, this practice that they say kids from Lesbos invented ...’), it is difficult to know what attitude is being implied by the description, but perhaps ‘kinky’ would be a better translation than ‘clever’ in this context (as when Eupolis also describes a certain sexual perversion as an , fr. 385). Elsewhere the sophists’ teachings are called by a character in Aristophanes’ Banqueters (fr. 206) who says that he has acquired this ‘clever stuff’ from a teacher. This scenario is reminiscent of Pheidippides’ and Strepsiades’ sophistic ‘education’ in Clouds. In that play, the label ‘clever’ usually seems to have an ironical edge, partly because of the sheer number of times it is repeated, partly because the play is savagely satirical towards intellectual pursuits and the sophists, and partly because ‘cleverness’ is often identified as such by a naïve or foolish person who lacks the ability to discern between what is clever and what is not. The elderly buffoon Strepsiades is continually made to remark on the ‘cleverness’ of nonsensical or jumbled-up ideas (‘O Lord Zeus, what intellectual subtlety!’ ... ‘All that is clever in the world, they teach!’ ... ‘Talk about refined! What a useful sophisma’ ...), and he solemnly instructs his son to ‘keep quiet and don’t say anything irreverent about people who are intelligent and dexioi’. Both Socrates and the chorus, meanwhile, shower embarrassingly fulsome praise on Strepsiades’ own supposed ‘cleverness’ (which is really an abject form of stupidity).96 For the same sort of ironical, faux-naïf usage we may compare the words of Euripides’ Relative (in Women at the Thesmophoria, 21), who, after listening to Euripides expounding some highfalutin gibberish, exclaims: ‘What a privilege it is, to be in the orbit of clever people!’97 Euripides is quite often described as sophos or dexios: indeed, Euripides’ cleverness is so much a part of his portrayal in comedy that even his household slaves are clever (Acharnians 401). This no doubt reflects the fact that he was widely seen as sharing characteristics with Socrates or the sophists. A character in the original, lost version of Clouds (fr. 392) introduced Socrates by saying ‘This is the person who helps Euripides write his loquacious, clever tragedies’: as in the passages above, it is hard to believe that there is not an ironical or critical edge to this description. Strattis’ description of Euripides’ Orestes as its author’s ‘cleverest’ play ( , Orestes the Man fr. 1) is more difficult to judge; but, whether the comedians are talking about Euripides, Socrates or the sophists, cleverness and wordy ‘chatter’ often seem to go hand in hand, and wherever these qualities are mentioned in comedy it 27

The Comedian as Critic often seems to be in a tone of disparagement rather than admiration.98 As others have pointed out, comedy routinely lumps all of these modern, intellectual types together as ‘verbose poseurs’.99 All the same, the comedians’ attitude to Euripides, though it is certainly satirical, cannot be described as unreservedly hostile; and (as we have already noted) some of Aristophanes’ contemporaries saw him as an admirer or imitator of Euripides rather than a hostile critic. It is difficult to know whether or not any occurrence of the word ‘clever’ in comedy (or elsewhere) is meant to be taken at face value. When, for instance, Phrynichus, in the course of what seems to be a ritual blessing (makarismos), describes Sophocles as ‘a fortunate man and a clever one’ ( , Muses fr. 32) does he mean it as a compliment or not?100 Should one suspect the presence of sarcasm when a certain actor is described by Aristophanes as terribly clever ( , Wasps 1279), in an ode which praises the achievements of a social climber and a dextrous cunnilinguist, and which begins with the words ‘I have often thought that I am naturally dexios and never ever stupid’?101 What does Tereus mean when he announces that Peisetaerus and Euelpides have come as ‘visitors from the clever land of Greece’ (Birds 409)? These questions cannot be definitively answered. Perhaps ‘cleverness’ always lies in the eye of the beholder. A number of jokes depend on mockery of people who think they are clever even though it is clear that others hold a different opinion. Aristophanes (in Peace 42-3) talks about a typical young member of his audience as being (that is, a ‘smart-alec’ who is his own greatest admirer), and similarly Pherecrates (in The False Heracles, fr. 163) and Callias (fr. 34) seem to be rather sniffy about people whom they call .102 What seems clever to one person may seem foolish to another – but in that case, it becomes even harder to describe or evaluate the phenomenon. Furthermore, this process of reasoning may make us less inclined to trust anyone at all who professes himself to be clever (including the comedians themselves).103 Whether we are thinking in terms of the basic meaning of ‘cleverness’ or in terms of the attitude implied by whoever uses the word, we are always having to deal with a certain inbuilt doubleness and indeterminacy. This paradoxical quality is nicely brought out by a fragment of a lost comedy by Archippus, talking about a person (or thing) that is simultaneously both ‘foolish and clever, just and unjust’ ( , , fr. 51).104 Cleverness is thus a very handy concept for the ironist to use. After all, comic irony does not just depend on a simple contrast between an ‘obvious’ meaning and a hidden, opposite meaning:105 if that was so, it would be much simpler to pin the comedians down to a definite position. As it is, their sort of irony often seems to be more open-ended in scope: it may be a way of juggling contradictory views without feeling obliged to reconcile them, or it may be a rhetorical strategy aimed at resisting interpretation altogether. All these considerations mean that when Aristophanes calls himself 28

1. Reading comic criticism clever, or seemingly flatters his audience by calling them clever,106 we cannot be sure whether he is any more or less serious than on other occasions when he uses the word. Nevertheless, the flattery is sometimes so excessive that one cannot but suspect insincerity – as when the spectators of Frogs are described as ‘clevernesses innumerate’ ( , 676-7), a phrase which is surely a veiled insult of some sort.107 A little later in the same play, the chorus sing a song in which they describe the contest between Aeschylus and Euripides as a sort of battle (Frogs 1104-19): There are many more attacks to come, and more clever stuff (sophismata) – and so whatever grounds you have for arguing, speak out! – attack! – dissect both the old and the new! – and take a risk in saying something subtle and clever (sophon).

Once again, the seemingly admiring tone seems a little too enthusiastic to be altogether genuine. This ode, which concludes by repeating its declaration that all the spectators are clever (1118), is also notable for claiming that ‘every single member of the audience owns a book and understands clever matters’ (1113-14) – a claim that has almost always been mistrusted by scholars.108 In this context, the description of both Aeschylus’ and Euripides’ work as ‘clever stuff’ seems rather unsatisfactory. Furthermore, the fact that cleverness is associated with novelty (as so often elsewhere) provides another reason for suspecting that it is not altogether a desirable quality: this is because novelty (kainotês) also emerges from comedy as a deeply problematic and ambivalent criterion for judging literature (see Chapter 3 below). Other contextual factors may also have a bearing on one’s interpretation of individual passages. For example, the parabatic passage quoted above (Clouds 520-7), which is routinely interpreted as an unambiguous statement of Aristophanes’ own poetic values, is severely undermined by its dramatic context within Clouds – a play which, more than any other surviving comedy, lampoons the concept of sophia as it is embodied by other supposedly ‘clever’ individuals.109 Cleverness (or, at least, the sort of sophia that is peddled in the Thinkery) is seen as being deeply amoral and troubling, and competition in intellect is seen as an essentially unjust and manipulative activity. The central character, Strepsiades – who is described at various points as slow-witted, forgetful, inarticulate, dishonest, ignorant and barbaric – undergoes a form of training in rhetorical ‘cleverness’ purely so that he can evade his creditors and get one up on his adversaries: he cannot conceive of the life of the mind except in terms of a repertoire of cheap tricks.110 The Athenians at large are seen as having being duped by such ‘clever’ figures, as is clear from Strepsiades’ words to the audience (1201-3):111 You wretched people, why are you sitting there stupidly? You are money in the bank for us clever people! You’re just stones – ciphers – useless sheep – empty vessels!


The Comedian as Critic The parabasis, in which Aristophanes seemingly praises his own cleverness, comes immediately after a song in which the chorus also praises the ‘cleverness’ of the terrible Strepsiades (512-17). Thus Aristophanes is – apparently – aligning himself with Strepsiades and all the other charlatans who make it their aim to take in the credulous and the naïve. Should we be taken in by this ironical posturing? I think not. Whatever Aristophanes is doing in the parabasis of Clouds, he is not straightforwardly and literally describing his own poetry. He is adopting a persona for the sake of humour – giving voice to the sort of claims that a boastful poet might make, and using the fashionable vocabulary of the day in order to mimic the sort of statement that his audience would have been used to hearing from other people. For the sake of humour, yes; but also, perhaps, for the sake of criticism. It is up to us whether we simply laugh or whether we fundamentally change our views about the nature of cleverness. As for what Aristophanes ‘really meant’, it is impossible to say for certain – just as it is impossible to say what Oscar Wilde ‘really meant’ when he wrote the following lines (The Importance of Being Earnest, I.ii): Jack: Is that clever? Algernon: It is perfectly phrased! And quite as true as any observation in civilized life should be. Jack: I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people: the thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left.



Literary contests It is widely acknowledged that the concept of competition is central to the study of comic poetics.1 But there are several ways in which this ‘competitive spirit’ might be identified or interpreted. We have already described, in the last chapter, the inherently emulative nature of the genre of komôidia, so often presented to us by its authors as a ‘low’ or inferior genre competing for prestige with the superior or ‘high’ genre of tragôidia. In a more general sense, though, all forms of criticism may be seen as essentially competitive, in so far as they represent attempts to exert power and control over the subject-matter and over the audience or reader. This notion has been explored in relation to the classical world by Yun Lee Too in her book The Idea of Ancient Literary Criticism: she demonstrates convincingly that ancient criticism is based on the projection of ‘ideal’ communities of readers and on various techniques of social, cultural or political exclusion.2 Alternatively, we could choose to frame the discussion in terms of a contest between the critic vs the creative artist: criticism may be seen as a genre of creative fiction, competing with the material under discussion for the reader’s attention or approval. This view of criticism is implicit in postmodern literary theory, but it was already central to the Aestheticism of the late nineteenth century: one thinks particularly of Oscar Wilde, who, in The Critic as Artist, made a forceful (if idiosyncratic) case for seeing criticism as an independent act of artistic creation.3 Wilde’s provocative declaration that ‘criticism of the highest kind treats the work of art simply as a starting point for a new creation’4 is bound to strike us as highly suggestive in the light of comedy’s relationship to tragedy and the other forms of literature that it parasitizes or parodies. Comedy may be seen as inherently critical or combative in a number of ways, then; but most studies of the comedians’ competitive poetics have, predictably, tended to centre on the Athenian dramatic contests. Because their plays were performed in festivals in which prizes were awarded to the ‘best’ plays, it is natural to assume that the comedians’ ideas about literary excellence were related to prize-winning in some way. Some very stimulating work has been done in recent years on these literary contests and the ways in which they seem to have influenced the comedians’ rhetoric and their strategies of self-presentation.5 Perhaps the most valuable contribution made by this recent scholarship lies in its anti-literal approach to the comedians’ self-conscious discourse: it now seems clear that we are dealing with a complex, ludic mixture of irony, fiction, and intertextual ‘running gags’ of one sort or another, rather than straightforwardly literal statements of intent or autobiographical 31

The Comedian as Critic facts. Nevertheless, there remains a need for further discussion of the comedians’ attitude to prizes, and of the precise nature of the connection between the award of prizes (on the one hand) and literary-critical judgements (on the other), and that is what I aim to provide here. In particular, I suggest that we need to look more closely at the sort of ‘value’ that was conferred, or implied, by the award of a prize. This will involve tracing links between the views expressed about prizes in comedy and the opinions about prizes seen in the later literary critical tradition. This chapter offers a new, anti-literal reading of the competitive poetics of comedy based on the identification of a significant tension between different value-systems. It is too simple to say, as everyone usually does, that the comedians’ main concern was always to win first prize in a festival (as if it were obvious what sort of thing would ensure victory anyway). What is at stake is more complex and harder to pin down, but it may include being funny, being sophisticated, or – most importantly – being admired by an ‘ideal’ or ‘target’ audience (which may differ in composition from the theatre audience or the Athenian public en masse). The comedians are participants in a cultural system but they do not invariably have to be seen as sharing all the values of that system – an observation which, as we shall see, has some very important consequences for our understanding of the status of comedy in relation to the literary-critical tradition in general. What we see in our fifth-century texts is essentially the playing-out of another sort of ‘contest’ – that is, a clash between popular culture and elite culture. 2.1. Making fun (out) of contests These are all very big claims, of course, which I shall be developing at length throughout this chapter and the book as a whole. First of all, though, it is important to note that prizes are themselves a frequent source of humour. The comedians are not simply participating in the contests; they are playing around with the idea of contests (however we might choose to interpret the jokes). The adjudication, administration, and the whole paraphernalia of prize-awarding culture are – along with everything else – subjects for comic mockery and irony. The dramatic contests may have been of enormous importance and prestige to Athenian society in general, but comedians are, essentially, antiestablishment figures: they typically want us to laugh at everything that society as a whole takes seriously.6 It is not always possible to gauge the comedians’ attitude to the contests precisely, but it is clear (at least) that they show a recurrent, intense interest in prize-winning and related matters. Many comedies (as we shall see) made implicit or explicit reference to their rivals or to the festivals in which they were competing, but a number of plays based their whole plot on the theme of literary rivalry. Apart from Aristophanes’ Frogs (the obvious example), Platon wrote a play called Stage-Properties 32

2. Literary contests which seems to have been largely concerned with a (real or fictional) dramatic contest: little survives of it, but the title strongly suggests a self-consciously literary plot, and its characters seem to have included two rival producers who were depicted as squabbling over the respective merits of one another’s plays (fr. 128). The titles and (meagre) fragments of Aristophanes’ Poetry and Women Claiming Tent-Sites, Nicochares’ Heracles the Choregos, Cratinus’ Performance Records (Didaskaliai), Archippus’ Poetry, Magnes’ Lyre-Players, Eupolis’ Autolycus and various other plays hint at similar preoccupations. Furthermore, literary or cultural contests were depicted on stage as taking place within the fictional world of several plays: Aristophanes’ Birds, Phrynichus’ Muses and Cratinus’ Archilochus and Friends all contained such scenes.7 It is possible that Cratinus’ Dionysus as Paris used the myth of the Judgement of Paris as some sort of metatheatrical counterpart to the comic competition, with the three jealous goddesses in the beautycontest standing in for the three competing playwrights.8 Much is uncertain about this lost play, most of the evidence for which comes from a partially-preserved papyrus hypothesis (P.Oxy. 663 = PCG IV.140-1, test. 1); but it seems that the chorus there ‘talked to the audience about the poets’ (col. 1.6-9).9 This is most naturally interpreted as a reference to a parabasis which centred on the rivalry between the competing comic poets. Significantly, the judge of the beauty-contest was none other than the god of theatre himself, Dionysus (disguised as Paris) – which may well make us think of the god’s similar role as judge in the contest between Aeschylus and Euripides in Frogs (see below). A parallel is provided by a passage from Aristophanes’ Birds (1102-17) in which the members of the bird-chorus playfully invite the judges to imagine themselves in the role of Paris: We wish to say a word to judges on the subject of our victory: we’ll give them all such marvellous gifts – if they vote for us – that they’ll take home rewards far greater than those offered to Paris!

The chorus-leader goes on to outline the benefits which the birds will, supposedly, bring to the judges if they make the right decision, and the punishment which they will inflict if they misguidedly award the prize to another dramatist (they will shit all over them). This is, clearly, a form of bribery, comparable to the bribes offered to Paris by Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. But comparing the judges to Paris at the fatal beauty-contest has the effect of ludicrously elevating their status: the consequences of their decision will be as momentous – so Aristophanes claims – as the consequences of Paris’ choice on Mount Ida. It is hard to ignore the irony of such a silly claim. However, the best illustration of a comedian’s silly or ironical attitude to the dramatic contest is provided by the list of prize-winners at the Lenaea of 422 BC:


The Comedian as Critic First prize: Proagon (produced by Philonides) Second prize: Wasps (produced by Aristophanes) Third prize: Ambassadors (produced by Leucon).10 Since Proagon was listed in antiquity among the titles of Aristophanes’ comedies, and since Aristophanes is well known for writing plays but getting someone else to produce them,11 and since Philonides was the named producer of at least two other Aristophanic comedies (Amphiaraus in 414 and Frogs in 405), it seems almost certain that on this occasion Aristophanes was competing against himself by entering two plays in the same competition. (This situation is extraordinary but not absolutely unparalleled: one Diodorus is also recorded as having won both second and third place at the Lenaea of 284.12) At the very least, it is clear that Aristophanes’ attitude towards prize-winning is more complex than it might initially appear. It has been suggested that Aristophanes’ motive for entering Proagon and Wasps against one another (without revealing, presumably, that he was the author of both) was simply to improve his chances of winning.13 This suggestion may at first strike us as fairly plausible – especially when we remember that the 422 Lenaea was the first opportunity that Aristophanes would have had to compete for a prize after the 423 Dionysia, in which his Clouds came in third place. A further possible explanation has been sought in the idea that authors who were ranked third in a Dionysia contest may have been barred from competing at the same festival in the following year.14 But there is no good evidence to support such an idea (a fragment of Platon has been taken to suggest that the Dionysia was more prestigious than other festivals and that one could be ‘demoted’ after a poor showing, but its interpretation is contested).15 Nevertheless, this sort of explanation is based on a number of questionable assumptions. Was Aristophanes really so desperate to win first prize? Can we really suspect him of sharp practice? Did a third prize for Clouds really count as a humiliating failure? I suspect that the answer to all these questions is no – but I shall have more to say about these matters later on. For the moment, I merely suggest that Aristophanes, rather than striving by questionable means to take the prize from under Leucon’s nose, is having fun at the audience’s – and the jury’s – expense. It would have been amusing for Aristophanes to unmask himself as the author of Proagon after the results were announced (whether or not he won), but it would have been even more amusing, perhaps, if it were widely known all along that Aristophanes was competing against himself. Indeed, it seems that Proagon and Wasps were deliberately written in dialogue with each other, as a sort of experiment in ‘serial’ comedy, in which the two individual plays were designed to be read together as complementary parts of a single unifying concept.16 The two comedies were presented by Aristophanes (with his tongue firmly in his cheek) as if they embodied two completely different styles of comedy by different 34

2. Literary contests sorts of playwright. Unfortunately, Proagon is lost, but, to judge by its metaliterary title and what we know of its contents, it was an ostentatiously clever, ‘intellectual’ comedy, featuring Euripides as one of its characters.17 Wasps, on the other hand, proclaims itself as almost the exact opposite. It offers itself, ever so humbly, as ‘nothing too grand, nothing too intellectual ... just a little story with a moral’, and it assures us that ‘this time there will be none of those familiar jokes making fun of Euripides’ (Wasps 56-64).18 Now of course the surface meaning of these claims (as they are usually interpreted) is based on the assumption that Aristophanes is referring back to the supposedly disastrous Clouds, which failed to win first prize last year precisely because it was too intellectual and esoteric. Wasps is – on the face of it – being presented to us as a crowd-pleasing ‘comeback’ production. But these pseudo-humble claims take on a different meaning when they are read in the light of Proagon. What Aristophanes is actually doing is much more complex and ironical – and much funnier. By setting up an ‘intellectual’, paratragic play against another play that claimed not to be too clever or literary, he seems to be undertaking an odd sort of experiment. He is testing out the audience, in order to discover, objectively (as it were), which type of comedy they favoured. Since he was the author of both types, a victory for one or the other could be interpreted as a direct indication of their literary preferences, rather than simply a predilection for one particular author over another. Obviously the test is not really objective at all; and obviously a playwright who competes against himself is having a laugh; and indeed Wasps, despite its own claims, turns out to be full of paratragedy, literary allusions and jokes about Euripides. But all the same, it is extremely interesting to observe that Proagon beat Wasps to first place in the competition – and extremely frustrating that the play is now lost. The difficulties of working with fragments, combined with the inherent complexities of comic irony and humour, make it hard to say for certain what the comedians want us to think about the contests. Are they having fun with contests, or are they making fun of them, in a more pointed or polemical way? No doubt the answer lies somewhere in between, and no doubt the competing comedians held various differing views on the subject. All of this ‘fun’ could be interpreted more or less neutrally, or it could be read as embodying a more problematic range of attitudes – but at the very least it ought to make us question the assumption that the comedians are always deadly serious about the contests and their outcome. 2.2. Literary prizes and the invention of criticism By the time that Aristophanes and his rivals were putting on plays, there was nothing particularly new about the idea of competition or competitive literary criticism. From the very earliest times, literature was shaped by rivalry. The question of a poet’s identity, individuality, or excellence was 35

The Comedian as Critic often framed, implicitly or explicitly, with reference to his predecessors or rivals in the field.19 Much archaic and early classical Greek poetry is characterized by what has been called a ‘competitive and contradictory stance’,20 and in general the ‘competitive spirit’ of the Greeks is so familiar as to be almost a commonplace.21 But in classical Athens this tendency developed a wholly new significance in the context of highly elaborate, state-organized dramatic festivals, which involved the formal ranking of competitors and the institutional award of prizes. The emergence of the institutionalized literary prize as a distinct phenomenon is, I argue, the really crucial factor in the development of literary-critical ideas. When we look at the body of ancient literary-critical writing in general (from Plato onward), it is immediately apparent that Athenian literary prizes did not influence the critics’ ideas about what was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in literature – except in an indirect or negative sense. Contemporary society at large clearly took literary competitions and their outcomes very seriously indeed, but there is virtually no correlation between the opinions of festival judges and those of the critics. Many critics do not mention the competitions at all (as if the plays were never performed but just read in the library). Of those who do mention them, nearly all express disapproval or dissent of some sort. One might refer to this type of attitude, broadly, as an ‘anti-prize’ mentality, though (as we shall see) the label covers quite a range of positions. It also needs careful qualification: that is, the critics examined do not seem to be opposed to prizes tout court, or to the hierarchical ranking of literature in principle. Rather, they take issue with the manner in which the competitions are organized or adjudicated in general, or with individual awards made on specific occasions. There is no documented instance of a ‘well-deserved’ first prize: any results which attract critical comment at all are said to be unjust. Disputes over prizes are not, of course, confined to literary competitions; but in no other type of classical Greek agôn do we find the same overwhelming sense of dissent from the judges’ decisions. (In sporting, political, or judicial contests there is naturally never quite the same degree of inherent ambiguity over who is the ‘best’ competitor, but there is more to it than that.) As I pointed out in Chapter 1, it is normally argued that the ‘antiprize’ mentality is specifically a product of the emergence, in the fourth century and later, of ‘literary criticism’ as a distinct, quasi-professional branch of scholarship. There is much to be said for this explanation. Certainly writers such as Plato, Aristotle and others (as we shall see) are notable for their ‘anti-prize’ opinions, and these opinions clearly relate to their conception of the nature of literature and its function in society. But the normal view of things does not fully account for the ‘anti-prize’ views found in earlier sources, including fifth-century comedy; nor does it recognize literary prizes as a distinct phenomenon or specific subject of interest within the broader field of literary-critical culture. Comparative evidence from modern society suggests that in fact the devaluing of prizes is not a comparatively late development but a 36

2. Literary contests contemporary, integral part of prize-awarding culture itself. At any rate, the evidence shows that the ‘anti-prize’ mentality is not specifically a product of fourth-century and later literary criticism, but that in some form it is already manifest during the fifth century in Athens, the heyday of competitive theatre performance. In fact, the views expressed in comedy seem to correspond in every respect to the views found in other, later critical writings. If we want to understand all this material, we need to adjust our focus to examine the way in which cultural prizes operate within society in general. Fifth-century comedy is among the most important categories of evidence for the historian of criticism. Comedy is a unique source because it is contemporary with the competitive culture which it describes; it simultaneously participates in and criticizes the competition; it is highly self-conscious and self-critical, standing both inside and outside the system; it can be seen as performing some of the functions of popular discourse and ‘the media’ in general, since it plays to (and in some sense reflects) the views of its audience. More importantly still, the fifth-century comedians embody both the ‘pro-prize’ and the ‘antiprize’ mentality. They apparently confirm the value of prizes by taking part in the competition, but they simultaneously devalue prizes by their negative criticism of the judges and audience, of specific awards, or even of the prize-awarding system as a whole. This seemingly paradoxical perspective has a crucial bearing on our study of prize-culture, but it also brings with it important consequences for one’s understanding of the comedians’ place within the literary-critical tradition more generally. 2.3. The economy of prestige All forms of recognition – prizes, rewards and honours, election to an academy, a university, a scientific committee, invitation to a congress or to a university, publication in a scientific review or by a consecrated publishing house, in anthologies, mentions in the work of contemporaries, works on art history or the history of science, in encyclopaedias and dictionaries, etc. – are just so many forms of co-optation, whose value depends on the very position of the co-optants in the hierarchy of consecration.22

The view that the literary prize is a distinct and peculiarly transhistorical phenomenon finds support not only in the uniformity of critical views throughout antiquity but also in the remarkable similarity between prizes in the ancient and the modern world. In this respect, some useful insight may be gained from recent theoretical approaches to literature and art. The work of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu is of particular importance to our investigation. Bourdieu’s distinctive contribution to the sociology of culture – in works such as Outline of a Theory of Practice, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, and The Rules of Art – was to provide a far-reaching analysis of the social and economic conditions which underlie literary and artistic taste. Judgements of ‘taste’, 37

The Comedian as Critic however much they may seem to be based on purely aesthetic criteria, are revealed by Bourdieu as being complex expressions of social status.23 All forms of critical judgement, along with the works of literature and art themselves, are seen as ‘cultural capital’ and can therefore be discussed in economic terms, alongside other forms of capital (money, class, political power and so on).24 It follows from this that cultural capital may be used as a means of negotiating other types of power relationship within society – notably by perpetuating class distinctions, but in various other ways as well. To exercise critical judgement on literature, in other words, is an assertion of power and status (in a sense which may not be immediately apparent from the way in which the judgement is expressed).25 Bourdieu was particularly interested in what he called ‘autonomization’ – the process by which art, literature and other cultural products come to be treated by their producers or consumers as separable from other forms of ‘capital’. He traces the emergence of two distinct views of art in ‘the market of symbolic goods’: a tension between ‘art-as-commodity’ on one hand and supposedly ‘pure’ or esoteric art on the other hand. Basically this is a clash of high-brow vs low-brow values, expressed in economic terms. The whole ‘field of cultural production’ is seen as being internally divided between the sub-field of extended or large-scale production (which caters for the masses, with their relatively conventional tastes) and the sub-field of restricted or small-scale production (which caters for the élite and intellectuals – a self-perpetuating and self-legitimizing group).26 As Bourdieu puts it, ‘the autonomy of a field of restricted production can be measured by its power to define its own criteria for the production and evaluation of its products’. These ‘autonomous’ criteria usually turn out to privilege form over content or function – a gesture which might be seen as affirming the unique and irreplaceable skill of the individual artist, but which is really a more or less transparent attempt by the field of restricted production to bracket itself off from other pre-existing forms of power relationships.27 This dichotomy between two opposing views of culture, which may seem very familiar from today’s perspective, is explained by Bourdieu as having arisen at a specific moment in comparatively recent history: the Industrial Revolution and the Romantic reaction in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe. He explicitly contrasts the modern cultural field with the artistic culture of pre-modern (or ‘primitive’) societies, which he sees as ‘unified within an immediately accessible spectacle involving music, dance, theatre and song’.28 Though there is no indication that Bourdieu intended any allusion to the classical world, this description of ‘primitive’ culture could almost be a quotation from any number of recent books on Greek poetry or drama.29 As I have already argued, the recent scholarly consensus that classical Greek performance culture was ‘unified’ is an idealized oversimplification; but at any rate Bourdieu is mistaken to imply that the ‘autonomization’ of literature and art and the clash of high and low value-systems represents a purely modern phenomenon. In fact, as we shall see, very nearly all of what he says can 38

2. Literary contests be applied, mutandis mutatis, to the classical Greek world. In particular, the opposition between mass and high-cultural value systems seems to underlie the ‘anti-prize’ mentality of the ancient critical tradition. Literary and cultural prizes fit rather uneasily into Bourdieu’s view of the field of cultural production. This is partly because they are difficult to locate precisely within the economic model of ‘cultural capital’ (are prizes themselves a form of capital, or is their function more like that of gifts, whose value is more difficult to quantify?). But it is due more to the fact that the status of those who bestow the prizes – the ‘consecrators’, to use Bourdieu’s term – has to be evaluated, or contested, in relation to the status of the ‘consecrated’ prize-winners. The ambivalent status of such prizes within today’s society has recently been explored by James English, whose stimulating book The Economy of Prestige is an extensive, Bourdieu-influenced study of cultural prizes (such as the Oscars, the Baftas, and the Booker Prize).30 Like Bourdieu, English believes that the clash of cultural value-systems is specifically a feature of the modern world. Although he mentions Athenian dramatic contests as ‘precursors’ to modern prizes, he does not discuss them at length, since he treats the cultural prize as a distinctly modern entity.31 Once again, however, almost all of what English has to say about modern prizes seems to apply equally well to the ancient world. His description of the characteristic features of modern prize culture will seem very familiar to the ancient historian: the inseparable (but endlessly contested) relationship between cultural value and other types of value; the institutional or state ‘ownership’ of prizes; the contrast between the lavish funding of the system and the puny monetary value of the prizes; the proliferation of material to be judged; the trend towards ‘memorialization’ of the winners; the large amount of ‘hype’ generated among the public; the fact that the occasion and adjudication is a form of entertainment in its own right; the selectively ambivalent attitude which both winners and losers show towards prizes; and the frequency with which ‘scandals’ and ‘wrong’ decisions are identified. In fact, the only substantial differences between ancient and modern prizes seem to consist in the number of prizes on offer and in the nature of the judges. Most importantly of all for our purposes, English demonstrates that modern prizes operate, in popular and critical discourse alike, precisely by generating a mixture of ‘hype’ and ‘anti-hype’, which together form an integrated, unitary system of discourse. Given the nature of cultural prizes and their uneasy relationship to other forms of ‘capital’, it is seemingly inevitable in a prize-awarding culture that there should be a permanent tension between ‘pro-’ and ‘anti-prize’ mentalities. The whole system is characterized by an ongoing – and permanently irresoluble – debate about how one should properly evaluate literature and the arts. And this debate is not purely a literary matter – for there can be no such thing as a purely literary matter – but it should be seen, rather, as an expression of another ongoing, and much more complex, debate about the structure and operation of society at large. 39

The Comedian as Critic Cultural-sociological approaches of this sort provide a plausible and attractive model for interpreting our ancient material. Ultimately, of course, it is impossible to prove that comparisons between the ancient and modern world are valid. To apply Bourdieu’s methods fully to the ancient world would require access to detailed information about Greek society that we simply do not have. But, at the very least, Bourdieu, English and others suggest a highly distinctive line of approach (and one which seems to fit the evidence better than other approaches). Whether or not the reader is convinced by the claim that literary prizes are a cross-cultural phenomenon (a view that will emerge more clearly from the analyses offered below), the discussion so far suggests that ancient critical discourse relating specifically to prizes may not correspond in every particular to ancient critical discourse on other aspects of literature. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that the comic competitions in fifth-century Athens were just another species of ancient competition, corresponding in every respect to the Greek competitive spirit (as we know it) in general. In the first place, Bourdieu’s analysis of the ‘field of cultural production’ suggests that cultural prizes are bound to be different from other sorts of prize. In addition, as I have already pointed out, the fifth century in particular marked a time of crucial change at Athens. It is true enough that the Dionysia, Lenaea and other Attic festivals from the fifth century onwards developed out of a pre-existing agonistic culture: the idea of literary and musical competitions was nothing new in itself. Nor was there anything new about the presence of dissent or ambivalence in the conduct or outcome of such competitions. It can scarcely be said that earlier literary contests were straightforward affairs, a form of ‘zero-sum game’ (like a football match or an athletic contest) in which there were always clear-cut winners and losers.32 But there were several important new things about the prize-culture of fifthcentury Athens: namely, the acquisition and administration of prizes by the newly democratic city-state; the politicization of established ritual practices; the huge scale of the fully-developed festival calendar; the elaborate rigmarole of the competition and its adjudication – all of these features mark out the Athenian dramatic competitions as radically different from their predecessors.33 What we are seeing, in effect, is a new and distinct type of prize – the institutionalized literary prize – emerging against a background of enormous social, political and intellectual change more generally.34 Having set the scene for our interpretation, let us now turn to the ancient evidence itself, contrasting the ‘pro-prize’ mentality of society at large with the ‘anti-prize’ mentality which pervades and characterizes the literary-critical tradition. The most important observation for our purposes is that in every respect the comedians seem to foreshadow the views of the professional critics of the fourth century and later.


2. Literary contests 2.4. Consecration: the ‘pro-prize’ mentality The results of dramatic contests were taken very seriously in antiquity, not just in the run-up to the festivals and their immediate aftermath but for many years afterwards. The high level of state control and management of the festivals, together with their lavish funding, can be seen as a powerful sign of public validation.35 Being a chorêgos carried huge political prestige and attracted fierce ambition.36 The winners (and runnersup) were publicly commemorated and their achievements recorded for posterity in victory lists, public records and personal monuments: the scale of personal commemorative statues of successful chorêgoi in the fourth century and later is often overwhelming.37 The results of fifthcentury Athenian competitions were still being commemorated in public inscriptions many hundreds of years later, not just in Athens itself but much further afield.38 There is some evidence to suggest that the poets themselves cared about winning prizes. The comedians, as we have already noted, frequently refer to victory, failure, and rivalry (though such references cannot always be taken at face value), and the tragedian Aeschylus even left Athens – allegedly – because of his anger over failing to win a prize.39 Prize-winners would hold elaborate celebrations (Agathon’s party in 416 BC was famously described by Plato in his Symposium), and it seems that they won immediate fame and celebrity. The comedians also recount (possibly exaggerated or ironical) stories of successful poets becoming swollen-headed and using their victory as a means of social – or erotic – advancement.40 It might be thought that the competitive spirit spurred on poets to write better work: Plutarch, for example, writing about the 468 Dionysia in particular, records that the unusual distinction of the judging panel (including Cimon) raised the contest to a more fiercely ambitious level,41 while Longinus, writing more generally about the creative process, says that great thoughts are connected to enthusiasm for rivalry and writers’ prize-winning ambitions.42 The ‘knock-on’ effects of prize-winning are evident in many texts. Aristotle, though (as we shall see) he deplored dramatic competitions and their effects, nevertheless wrote a work called Didaskaliai (‘Performance Records’) and another called Victories at the Dionysia – serious literary losses indeed. Subsequent generations of scholars, librarians and others were preoccupied with recording the details of prizes won or lost. If one reads an ancient biography, an entry in the Suda, or a Hypothesis to a tragedy or comedy in manuscript, one almost invariably encounters a reference to the number of prizes won by the author in question. This information was, clearly, thought to be one of the most important facts to be preserved for posterity – thus permanently characterizing the author as a success or failure (one might compare a modern Who’s Who entry or obituary for the same sort of preoccupation). Nowadays one is always being reminded that the prizes went to performances, not texts; yet the 41

The Comedian as Critic readers of books in Alexandrian and Byzantine libraries still, many years after the original performances, wanted to know how many prizes had been won by the authors whom they studied. The ancient Life of Sophocles records that the playwright won twenty victories, and often won second prize, but (significantly) never came third.43 In other words, Sophocles (as far as we can tell) won more first prizes than any other tragedian, and this prize-winning record seems to have had a direct effect on his lasting reputation as a playwright. This is indicated not only by Sophocles’ presentation in comedy (see Chapter 3 below), but also by the epitaph on his tomb, which is said to have read: ‘Here lies Sophocles, who won first prize with his tragic art ( ), whose character was most holy’.44 Whether or not this detail is strictly accurate,45 it is extremely significant, because it suggests that Sophocles was seen by posterity as a ‘winner’, not just in the case of specific contests but in general: he won first prize with his tragic art (as a whole).46 So, in the rhetoric of the ‘pro-prize’ mentality, literary prizes could become a metaphor for excellence in literature. A number of passages from Longinus’ essay On The Sublime bring out more clearly this metaphorical sense of prize-winning. Longinus repeatedly connects the idea of literary excellence with the image of prizes: significantly, he is not talking just about drama but about literature as a whole. For example: And, indeed [we must enquire] whether it is the greater number of good qualities or the greater good qualities that properly deserve to win the prize ... (33.1) I believe that the greater good qualities, even if they are not consistent throughout, should always win the vote for first prize ... (33.4)47

As I said earlier, it is unusual for a professional literary critic to talk about prizes with what appears (on the face of it) to be approbation; and in fact Longinus is the only ancient critic in whose work we find this sort of attitude. However, his position on prizes is more complex than this might suggest: despite the passages cited, he does not straightforwardly exhibit a celebratory, ‘pro-prize’ outlook (see below). It is clear that a writer’s prize-winning success on a specific occasion was repeatedly celebrated, recorded, monumentalized (literally or metaphorically), and thus perpetuated ad infinitum. The results of the competitions seemed to matter: they became associated with a certain enduring – not merely ephemeral – value. But was this ‘value’ genuine? Perhaps not. 2.5. Devaluation: the ‘anti-prize’ mentality In fact, we encounter an almost complete mismatch between the award of prizes and the judgement of literary critics. Almost all the authors in the ancient critical tradition focus repeatedly on a number of problematic 42

2. Literary contests themes: the manner in which the competitions are adjudicated; the role and nature of the audience; the criteria for prize-winning; the effect of competition on the authors; the relationship between performances and ‘literature’ (as such); the type of ‘value’ conferred by a prize; and the nature of genuine literary appreciation. In general, prizes are usually treated as irrelevant by critics. This is due to a strong sense that the best authors are thought to possess an inalienable status as ‘classics’, whether they win or lose: they are somehow immune to success or failure, and their superior status is presented as being so obvious that it does not even require demonstration or further discussion. It is worth noting that prizes (won or lost) had no discernible effect on the reception, survival, or lasting prestige of any ancient play. The plays which were talked about and re-performed during classical and later antiquity, and the plays which were transmitted as texts, were not necessarily the first-prize-winners.48 Occasionally, of course, there is a degree of correspondence between prize-winning success and a writer’s enduring status: Sophocles, who was placed first a remarkable eighteen times, retained ‘classic’ status in later years. But this was not always the case: Euripides, the ‘most tragic’ tragedian (according to Aristotle) and the most popular in later antiquity, notoriously won only five first prizes (one of them posthumous).49 In fact, the ancient tradition surrounding Euripides is based entirely on the perception that he was unpopular and unsuccessful. The entire plot of Aristophanes’ Frogs can be seen as springing from the premise that Euripides so often unaccountably loses competitions, despite being the better poet and the ‘obvious’ choice (see below). Many years later, the ancient biographers of Euripides record that the poet was ‘hated’ by his contemporary audiences, but imply that they were wrong to hate him – since to explain his unpopularity they have to dredge up dubious anecdotes about the poet’s personality and sex life (while the quality of his plays is simply taken for granted).50 Nevertheless, Euripides’ status as a ‘classic’ author persisted (and still persists today), irrespective of his prize-winning record. Whenever the results of specific competitions are mentioned, we are never told the grounds for the decision, or the reasons why the outcome was just or unjust, but we have to take it as self-evidently true that the ‘classic’ author ought to have won, rather than his lesser-known or less admired rival. Even in his own day, Sophocles’ reputation was such that his occasional lack of success could provoke outrage: when the obscure Gnesippus was awarded a chorus ahead of Sophocles, Cratinus made a joke out of the scandal, saying that Gnesippus was unfit to put on a play even at the minor festival of the Adonia (Cowherd fr. 17).51 The joke relies on the supposed fact that some authors are just naturally ‘better’ than others. We might compare Aulus Gellius’ surprise at the fact that the famous Menander was repeatedly beaten by the ‘inferior’ poet Philemon (he implies that undue influence from Philemon’s supporters must have been the cause),52 or Quintilian’s statement that Menander was often defeated in the ‘corrupt’ judgements of his day.53 All of these 43

The Comedian as Critic opinions are based, either explicitly or implicitly, on an established pecking order of poets which the reader is expected to know and accept. The plays in question – which are not even discussed – are assumed to be self-evidently superior (in some, unspecified sense), so that the judges’ verdicts are inexplicable according to any normal standards. The two most influential critics of all, Plato and Aristotle, argue that prizes are not just irrelevant but actually inimical to genuine literary appreciation. Furthermore, they claim that the influence of contests on artists is detrimental, since they encourage playwrights to produce bad, flashy, or superficial works in order to please the crowd. In a number of passages Plato states (or implies) that literature is debased by the need to satisfy theatre audiences,54 and, in the passage from the Laws discussed above (2.659c4-7), he declares explicitly that competitions have ‘corrupted’ the poets as well as the judges’ standards of pleasure. However, it is Aristotle who goes into some detail about the precise nature of the effect of contests upon playwrights. In the Poetics (6.1450b) Aristotle highlights the important fact that the contests did not differentiate between plays, playwrights, producers, or actors.55 Indeed, it seems inevitable that, despite anyone’s best intentions, the quality of the acting would have influenced audiences and judges more than any other aspect of the production. It was probably for this reason that a ‘Best Actor’ prize was instituted ca. 440 BC, to focus the judges’ attention on the quality of the plays themselves.56 Aristotle mentions the acting prizes in his section on hypokrisis in the Rhetoric (3.1403b-1404a): he says that these prizes are won by actors who are good at delivery, but he adds that actors still have more influence than poets in contests generally. Aristotle goes on to compare dramatic contests to political ones: in both spheres it is the vulgar, ignorant character of the listeners that is seen as responsible for the conduct and outcome of events. Dramatic performances are seen as a form of rhetoric (which is itself a ‘vulgar’ art),57 winning over the opinion of audiences or judges.58 Once again, as elsewhere, Aristotle’s point is the audiences miss the real meaning of the material presented to them, and that their judgement is based on superficial or misguided criteria. Elsewhere Aristotle describes the effect of competition on the literary works themselves. His chief cause for complaint is in the area of plot. The audiences and judges are said to prefer badly-constructed, ‘episodic’ plotlines, in which the order of events is not probable or necessary: These are made by bad poets on their own account, and by good poets because of the judges; since they are writing competition-pieces, and stretching the plot beyond its limits, they are often compelled to distort the order of events.59

It is slightly frustrating that here, as elsewhere in the Poetics, Aristotle does not illustrate his point in more detail, but presumably he is referring to sensational plot ‘twists’ of a type not strictly necessitated by the events. 44

2. Literary contests However, Aristotle’s derogatory description is not simply a comment on the festival judges, but rather it reflects his own idiosyncratic preference for a particular pattern of ‘complex’ plot.60 Elsewhere, he does supply an example of a supposedly faulty, crowd-pleasing plot-structure: it is the type of plot, like the Odyssey, that has a ‘double’ arrangement ending with opposite fortunes for good and bad people. It is thought to be the best because of the weakness of the spectators: the poets follow the lead of the spectators and make the sort of plays that they want to watch.61

This is evidently a different sort of plot from the one criticized above. This time, it is not so much the arrangement of events within the plotstructure but their entire nature or conception: Aristotle is describing a particular choice of myth rather than a poet’s specific handling of that myth. Audiences are said to prefer an ethically simplistic situation with contrasting fates for heroes and villains; this contrasts with Aristotle’s own preferred sort of plot, which is more concerned with moral grey areas and ‘in-between’ types of character.62 Aristotle is well known to prefer complexity to simplicity (on his own specific definitions of these terms); but audiences cannot appreciate complexity – not only because of their own limitations, but also because it is just more difficult to appreciate complexity in performance. One has to read plays in order to appreciate this complex quality; and so for Aristotle the sort of play that works best on stage, and wins prizes, is inherently not the best type of play. But what is the ‘best’ type of play, and what are the criteria for deciding? In contrast to professional critics, who attempt to fix and describe objective (or seemingly objective) criteria for good or bad literature, the Athenian festival judges appear to have operated according to criteria which were subjective and opaque. Consequently, we find no explicit mention of the qualities for which a prize was awarded, though critics might hint at a connection between certain qualities (or defects) and success in the competitions.63 But when specific merits are mentioned, these tend to be directly contrasted with those qualities that win prizes (for instance, Aristotle’s strictures about certain types of plotting). Plato, in a passage from the Laws (2.658b-d), writes that ‘the whole premise is that he who best succeeds in giving us enjoyment and pleasure’ should be awarded the prize; though the question of what properly constitutes ‘pleasure’ is hugely problematic.64 The competing comedians sometimes give clues about the qualities which were seen as likely to win prizes, but these are not much more helpful. ‘Novelty’ and ‘cleverness’ (both rather vaguely defined) are mentioned quite frequently as if these were important considerations, but there is no trace elsewhere in the critical tradition of the view that novelty is a virtue, and ‘cleverness’ is never mentioned at all (as such). And in fact, as I discuss elsewhere in this book, both novelty and cleverness are rather problematic and ambivalent categories. 45

The Comedian as Critic It will be clear that what I am calling the ‘anti-prize’ mentality encompasses a variety of viewpoints from writers of different periods and types. But the underlying factor in all cases is the relationship between the competing authors and the ‘consecrators’ of the prizes (to use Bourdieu’s term) – that is to say, the audience, the festival judges and the public at large. It is in the comedians’ negotiation of this uneasy relationship that we can see distinct similarities with the attitudes of later critics. 2.6. The theatre audience and the adjudication process It is normally assumed that the competing dramatists are always to be seen as playing to the audience as a whole, that their aim was always to appeal to the largest number of people, and that their political, literary and cultural values were more or less coterminous with the values of the Athenian public en masse. It is easy to see why this sort of viewpoint has gained such widespread currency, given that ‘elitism’ (a concept that covers a wide range of meanings) has become such a dirty word in the modern academy and society more generally. If we regard Aristophanes and his rivals as men of the people, rather than snobby elitists, it is a way of making them seem more acceptable, perhaps – more likeable, more like ourselves. Of course, we can never know what any of them really thought about anything: the usual caveats about irony and intentionalism (and so on) must be borne in mind. But still it is possible to take a different line from the ‘orthodox’ position. Many of our comedians do, in fact, exhibit signs of a more complex or ambivalent attitude to the public, and Aristophanes in particular can be read as embodying an ‘elitist’ mentality, in both cultural and political terms.65 In this section I look at evidence from comedy side-by-side with evidence from later critics, concentrating particularly on the role of the theatre audience and judges in the prize-awarding process. Plato, Aristotle and the overwhelming majority of later critics seem invariably to have devalued Athenian festival prizes on the grounds that the decisions were made by stupid and undiscerning audiences. The comedians, I suggest, can also be read along similar lines. The judging process adopted at the Dionysia and other Attic festivals, though obscure in some details, was a highly elaborate system, controlled by the state and painstakingly designed to be transparent, accountable and resistant to abuses (such as bribery or vote-rigging). The most remarkable feature of this procedure is its similarity to political decisionmaking processes (a similarity which has often been observed).66 The judges were not literary critics or professional dramatists,67 but amateurs. These were ordinary Athenian citizens, selected at random, who presided over the competition precisely in their capacity as representatives of the democratic city: there could be no more direct sign of the institutionalized, state-owned nature of the prizes.68 This fact alone might be enough to account for the hostility of critics, but there are other reasons for seeing 46

2. Literary contests the adjudication procedure as unsatisfactory. Despite all the complicated arrangements that were in place, it appears that in practice the ten judges did not have complete control over the outcome. Chance played a role because of the order in which the voting tablets were drawn out of the urn: according to one calculation, it would have been possible to win first prize with only three out of the ten votes.69 Then again, political expediency might determine the winner, no matter how good or bad the plays were.70 Perhaps unexpectedly, neither comedians nor professional critics draw attention to all these problems,71 but they have plenty to say about the people who made the decisions at the festivals. All the signs indicate that, even though in theory the judges were in charge, in practice it was the theatre audience who chose the winners: they would indicate their views, often noisily, throughout the competition, even if they had no formal vote as such.72 This is shown by, for example, the chorus-leader’s oath in Aristophanes’ Birds: Chorus-leader: I hereby swear that I will win by all the judges and all the audience members – Peisetaerus: You will! Chorus-leader: – but if I transgress, may I win by just a single judge’s vote!73

In a number of other passages from comedy, appeals are made to the judges and the audience members alike,74 but it is the audience in particular, not the judges, to whom the comedians repeatedly attribute the success or failure of their plays.75 This being the case, comedians would often speak ‘directly’ to the audience using the vehicle of the parabasis, urging and wheedling them into giving the prize to the right contestant.76 The fact that the outcomes of the contests were in the hands of the audience en masse was bound to trouble critics writing from a perspective of social, political, or philosophical élitism. For such writers, mass audiences, being naturally inferior, undisciplined, or lacking education and wisdom, were seen as ill-equipped to make important decisions about literary value.77 It is particularly telling (and frustrating) that the élitist critics do not even ask what the audience members thought they were doing when they made their decisions: they simply dismiss the judgements of the masses, without inquiring too closely into the criteria on which they were made or the reasons why they took pleasure in ‘the wrong’ type of work. (Nobody, presumably, sat in the theatre thinking: ‘I am an idiot; this is a self-evidently bad play: I must vote for it.’) The most prominent opponents of theatre audiences and judges on ideological grounds of this type are Plato and Aristotle. Of course, neither of these two writers can be said to be exactly representative of typical attitudes, but their collective influence on the later critical tradition was considerable. Their views on literature and society are well known and have been exhaustively discussed:78 here I am interested just in those passages in which they specifically mention prizes. 47

The Comedian as Critic Plato’s views on poetry (in general) and its effects on its audiences are laid out most fully in the Republic, but in a number of passages from the Laws he touches on the adjudication procedure and its failings. At Laws 2.657e-658e one finds a (comparatively rare) mention of the criteria used to award prizes. The discussion is more concerned with identifying the best genre of poetry than with the criteria for judging poetry, but essentially the premise (so Plato’s Athenian Stranger argues) is that the poet who best succeeds in giving enjoyment and pleasure should be considered the most skilful and awarded the prize. However, he concedes, different judges enjoy different things, and so uncertainty is created over who should rightly win. Initially (657e5-6) it is suggested that the prize should go to the poet who gives the greatest pleasure to the greatest number of people (which seems like a very un-Platonic, ‘audience-friendly’ viewpoint); but in the end it is the verdict of ‘the best people’ that counts, not just that of any old person. Plato’s Athenian goes on to explain why this should be so, in a passage which is worth quoting at length (2.658e6-659b5): Certainly I agree with the majority view that art should be judged according to pleasure – but not the pleasure of any Tom, Dick or Harry. I think that the most beautiful Muse is the one who gives delight to the best people and those with a proper education, and most of all the one who pleases a single judge, one distinguished in virtue and education. For this reason we say that the judges of these competitions need virtue: they must have a share in all wisdom, and especially courage. The true judge ought not to take instruction from the audience when giving his verdict, and be distracted by the din of the crowd and his own lack of education; nor, when he knows the outcome, ought he to deliver his verdict carelessly through weakness and cowardice, swearing falsely out of the very same mouth with which he invoked the gods when he was preparing to sit in judgement. For, properly speaking, the judge sits not as a pupil, but rather as a teacher of the audience, and he is to oppose those who offer the audience pleasure that is of an unseemly or improper sort.

This discussion is all about how competitions ought to be administered, in an ideal world. Thus, by describing the way things ought not to be run, Plato’s characters are in effect describing, by implication, the precise state of events in the real world. Later on, in an often-quoted passage (Laws 3.700a-701b), Plato makes his meaning more explicitly pejorative, describing the adjudication process as ‘a vile theatrocracy’ characterized by raucous hissing, shouting and clapping from the mob.79 In each of these passages, then, the problem with existing arrangements is that the prizewinners are selected by ignorant and undiscerning audiences and that the judges are either unwilling or unable to make up their own minds. Given such conditions, the prizes themselves are necessarily devalued. It is interesting that Plato uses the image of teachers and pupils to describe the adjudication. As he presents it, the function of poetry is to educate as well as to give pleasure – a dual function which is amply attested elsewhere, by Plato himself and many others80 – but whereas 48

2. Literary contests the poet was normally cast in the role of teacher, here Plato says that it is the judges who ought to be the teachers. (He goes on to repeat explicitly that in the real world it is the spectators who are the teachers.81) This unusual adaptation of the familiar motif is due to Plato’s concern with the problem of ensuring that the correct ‘lessons’ are learnt from poetry. One of the main problems with poetry in performance, according to the Republic, is that it is difficult to control the (potentially numerous and divergent) ways in which its audiences might interpret it.82 But if the meaning or message of a play is out of its author’s hands, it remains open to the judges to make sure that the correct lessons are learnt – by implication – through the awarding of the prize to the most edifying work. Thus, for Plato, the award of a prize is not only a decision which confers value on literature, but inherently (and crucially) an act of interpretation. In the Laws Plato can be seen as substantially modifying his position in the Republic, where poetry was banned altogether from the ideal state;83 but even now poetry is admitted into society only by removing from the poets control over their own works.84 Furthermore, if the power of the judges is increased, their character and capacity for discernment become more important considerations. Ideally there would not be ten judges, but a single figure, distinguished by virtue and education: such a judge is seen as the best figure to lead the young to the principles of true wisdom.85 All of this is a very long way from the reality of dramatic competitions in classical Athens. The real problem with the current system, for Plato, is that audiences and judges alike are deficient in knowledge; but, as we see a little later in the dialogue (Laws 2.668c-670b), it is a particular type of specialist knowledge that is required. The person who is to judge a literary work unerringly must know in each case the exact nature of that work and (most significantly) what it represents; for if he does not recognize its ‘essence’ ( ), its ‘intention’ ( ), or the ‘true original’ which it represents ( ), he will not be able to discern whether the artwork succeeds or fails (668c6-8). In other words, Plato is operating with an extremely specific conception of ‘correctness’ ( ) in mimetic poetry, which relates back to his theory of knowledge in general and (in particular) his theory of Forms.86 Such ideas are, naturally, beyond the grasp of the ‘great mass’ in the audience ( , 670b8-12). Plato’s ‘anti-prize’ opinions are not straightforward expressions of élitism: they have to be interpreted in the light of his philosophical opinions. Plato (unlike certain other ‘anti-prize’ critics) is not simply out to discredit festival judges and audiences. Indeed, as it turns out, he is not exclusively concerned with dramatic competitions. Rather, he is concerned to put forward a distinctively Platonic way of reading texts in general. The type of literary-critical activity described here is a highly specialized, idiosyncratic process, very different in kind from the judgement of the spectators at the festival (and, for that matter, that of most critics or readers). 49

The Comedian as Critic Plato has his own particular perspective on the prize system, then; and, like Aristotle (to whom we shall return later), his objections to the conduct of literary competitions are meant to be understood in the context of a wider system of philosophical ideas about poetry and its role in education and society. But views of this type are not confined to critics of the ‘philosophical’ type. Others too view the prize-awarding audience as an ignorant rabble in a more general sense. For example, Vitruvius, a very different sort of writer, describes the adjudication of an odd – almost certainly fictional – poetic contest organized by Ptolemy Philadelphus and attended by the grammarian Aristophanes of Byzantium: While the poets read their texts the whole population told the judges how to cast their votes by shouting at them. And thus, when their verdicts were called for, one by one, the six judges unanimously awarded first prize to the poet who they thought most pleased the multitude, and they awarded second prize to the next most pleasing. But Aristophanes, when asked for his opinion, told them to choose as victor the poet who least pleased the crowd ...87

This has been described, rightly, as an ‘absurd and anachronistic’ anecdote.88 Nevertheless, even if the story is unhistorical in its precise details, the underlying assumptions about the relative power of the audience and judges are significant. The anecdote represents the sort of view that an educated Roman of the first century might have of literary prize-winning in general, and it suggests that a certain type of view of earlier Greek competitions, and their (un-)fairness, had filtered down through the critical tradition of several centuries. The most important feature of Vitruvius’ story is the discrepancy between the judgement of the professional critic (Aristophanes of Byzantium, the literary scholar par excellence) and that of the amateur judges and the misguided audience. Before Aristophanes’ extraordinary intervention, the audience (as elsewhere) are seen as dictating the verdict, despite the presence of a panel of six official judges. Aristophanes’ suggestion that the prize should go to the least popular playwright is eventually adopted, but this is clearly implied to be the precise opposite of what normally happened at competitions. The point of the story seems to be that audiences are prone to making the ‘wrong’ decision. Vitruvius muddies the waters somewhat by adding later that the most crowd-pleasing poets were plagiarists, not necessarily bad poets as such. Even so, the correct judgement is still seen as relying on the expertise of a professional scholar, who is sufficiently learned to be able to detect plagiarism: it is this specialized knowledge and experience that the ignorant spectators and judges lack. True criticism, then, requires learning – this time not the epistemology and moral wisdom of the Platonic judge, but the erudition of a bookish Alexandrian scholar. Other Roman writers touch on the theme of vulgar audiences vs discerning critics. Ovid, writing about mimes, remarks that a poet’s popular success is likely to be in direct proportion to the vulgarity of his 50

2. Literary contests theme;89 while Horace, who calls the audiences of classical Greek drama ‘ignorant and stolid’ (indocti stolidique), advises the aspiring author not to bother about courting the admiration of the public, but instead to be content to have a few discerning readers.90 Of course, these authors were writing many years later than the classical Athenian contests, and they would have had in mind (at least in part) a rather different type of audience and performance context. But essentially, though, their views all represent variations on a theme which was already present in the fifth century. For instance, the ‘Old Oligarch’ mentions theatrical competitions in the course of his scathing description of the dêmos, saying that the mob has taken over and ‘ruined’ what were previously noble pastimes.91 His attitude, though it is embedded in fifthcentury social and political concerns,92 is none the less an expression of the same problem dealt with by Plato and later writers (not to mention Bourdieu): the clash between vulgar and élite values. The same theme is also seen very prominently in fifth-century comedy. For instance, the chorus leader in Aristophanes’ Wasps takes his own audience to task for failing to appreciate his previous play (the Clouds of 423), saying: At this point the author wishes to criticize the audience: he says that you’ve treated him unjustly, even after he’s given you such a lot of marvellous stuff in the past [...] But last year you betrayed him – he was trying to sow a crop of new ideas, but you ruined the whole thing because of your complete stupidity. He’ll go even further and swear by Dionysus – not just with one libation, in fact, but with several – that you never did hear a better comedy than Clouds. Well, the shame is entirely yours, you ignorant lot! The smart ones out there won’t think any less of the author if he overtook his rivals by being too clever.93

Incidentally, this parabatic passage evokes the competitive metaphor of chariot-racing to describe its author’s work, though the precise use of the metaphor is unexpected (it is said that Aristophanes overtook all the other ‘racers’ but took a tumble). It also seems to reveal some of the qualities which are seen as desirable in a ‘good’ piece of writing – but these seemingly admirable features are also quite problematic (as I discuss elsewhere in this book). For the moment the main point to observe is that Clouds failed to win (so its author claims) precisely because of the ‘stupidity’ of the audience. The type of material favoured by the audience is not Aristophanes’ verbally sophisticated, philosophically inventive humour, but something altogether cruder, more straightforward, and more familiar. In a later play, Frogs, a character gives us an example of this cruder, more popular type of comedy: we learn that ‘the usual jokes, the ones that always make the audience laugh’ (Frogs 1-2) involve farting and servants being beaten up. We are told that Aristophanes’ rivals, Cratinus and Ameipsias, go in for this type of thing; and we recall, perhaps, that it was Cratinus who defeated Clouds in 423. But the situation is not so clear51

The Comedian as Critic cut as all that, since here Aristophanes himself, ironically, is putting on stage precisely the type of jokes from which he seems to be distancing himself.94 Furthermore, a parabatic passage from one of Cratinus’ own comedies (fr. 360, from an unknown play) shows that Cratinus too could present his work as sophisticated and misunderstood, and the audience’s response as ill-judged and mistimed: Greetings to you, o crowd, you who laugh out loudly at the wrong point, you who are the best possible judge of our cleverness ( ) – except on the festival day itself!

So Aristophanes was clearly not the only comedian to question his audience’s critical acumen: it appears that in fact fifth-century audiences were accustomed to hearing this sort of complaint rather often. A lacunose fragment of Eupolis (fr. 392) also seems to be reproaching its audience for their failure to appreciate good comedy: Listen up, spectators, and take in what I’m saying; for right here at the start I’m going to defend myself to you ... [some words missing] what mental process has led to your saying that foreigners are clever poets, whereas if someone from right here sets his hand to writing poetry, someone who’s in no respect less sensible, he seems to be completely misguided, and insane, and off his rocker – in your opinion. Well, take my advice: change your ways completely, and don’t be resentful when one of us youngsters enjoys himself in artistic pursuits ...

These lines, which are obviously from the beginning of a parabasis or agôn,95 may or may not represent the voice or persona of Eupolis himself, but they are clearly spoken by some or other poet in a competitive context. The terms of the discussion are difficult to interpret precisely. The passage mentions ‘cleverness’ – a familiar concept, if hard to pin down – in such a way as to leave it ambiguous whether it really is a good thing to be clever (it may be implied that the audience members are wrong to attribute cleverness to these ‘foreign poets’, or that they are wrong to value cleverness at all). Nor is it clear just why the poet-figure is to be preferred to these unnamed ‘foreign poets’, whoever they may have been.96 However, the passage evokes a theme which is seen widely elsewhere in the comic poetry of the 420s – the dichotomy between young and old – so it may be that the poet is basically defending the novelty of his own work against the supposed old-fashionedness of his rivals. Such a claim would put the passage firmly in line with numerous other comedies in which novelty is (apparently) claimed as one of the most important criteria for judging literature – although (as we shall see in Chapter 3) novelty, like cleverness, is far from being a straightforwardly positive or admirable characteristic. A further difficulty lies in the translation of the last word in the fragment, translated above (with deliberate ambiguity) as ‘artistic pursuits’. In Greek, this word is , which can refer to any sort of artistic activity; but it may be that the mention of ‘youngsters’ 52

2. Literary contests in connection with was intended to suggest a reference to the ‘New Music’, which is elsewhere satirized by Eupolis and others.97 Thus it is hard to discern exactly what is at stake in these combative lines; but the most important point is that the spectators are severely criticized for their misguided attitude and lack of discernment. Appropriately enough, the fragment is preserved by the anthologist Stobaeus, who quotes it in his section ‘On Stupidity’.98 The chorus in Phrynichus’ comedy The Nightmare (fr. 3) sing a song in which they express criticism of certain young people – the ‘misanthropic blossom of youth, who have a sting in their fingers’ – the sort who, ‘when they sit down on the benches, tear to shreds the very people whom they sweet-talk, and all of them bend over double with laughter’. This somewhat obscure fragment is hard to interpret with confidence. It may be that the ‘benches’ are meant to be seats in the Assembly, but it has been plausibly suggested that the reference is to seats in the theatre – in which case Phrynichus can be seen as exhibiting an attitude closely comparable to the passages above, criticizing his audience for their perceived fickleness and the unreliable quality of their judgement on previous occasions.99 In particular, the reference here to misplaced or mistimed laughter – a particularly unfortunate failing in an audience watching a comedy – closely echoes Cratinus fr. 360 (above). The contrast made between ‘young’ and ‘old’ also corresponds to the generation-gap conflict explored by Eupolis (fr. 392) and various others, though on the basis of this fragment it seems that Phrynichus (unlike Eupolis) is positioning himself on the side of the oldies.100 Even if we take humour and irony into account, it is hard to read any of these passages as straightforwardly ingratiating. Often they just seem plain rude – as when Aristophanes (Clouds 524-5) complains that he was defeated at the hands of ‘vulgar’ men ( , a favourite adjective of Plato),101 or when he makes ‘Euripides’ refer to his audience as ‘morons’ (Frogs 910), or when Cratinus in a parabasis calls his spectators ‘mentally ill’ (fr. 395), or when both Pherecrates and Aristophanes sarcastically refer to smart-alec, ‘soi-disant clever’ members of the audience ( / , The False Heracles fr. 163; Peace 434).102 At other times the comedians or their characters cajole, wheedle and compliment their audience, but such remarks often sit rather oddly in their context, and somehow one can never quite believe in their sincerity. In Frogs, for instance, the chorus’ description of the spectators as ‘myriad intellects’ (677) already seems excessively fulsome, even before we have heard their intellectual credentials being mercilessly ridiculed elsewhere in the play (see below). What we are seeing is an uneasy, ambivalent tone which treads a fine line between apparent flattery and contempt. Indeed Telecleides (Amphictyons fr. 4) explicitly combines compliment and insult in the same line, addressing his audience thus: ‘O you who are so smart in some respects, while in others you are greener than green apples ...’103 Even when they contain no explicit abuse or admonishment, these 53

The Comedian as Critic addresses to the audience are often characterized by a nauseating obsequiousness that is difficult to take at face value – for example, when Platon (in Wool-Carders, fr. 96) says: ‘Hail, assembly of ancient-born, omni-clever spectators!’ The over-the-top, compound adjectives exude pomposity, and as elsewhere when the audience are called ‘clever’, one suspects a certain irony at work.104 In another comparable passage from Cratinus’ Pylaea (fr. 182), a character announces: ‘we have come as uninvited guests to the banquet of the sophisticated spectators.’ The reference to the audience’s supposed sophistication is obviously sarcastic, and in fact the lines seem to allude to some earlier occasion when Cratinus and his characters were not made to feel welcome (as it were) – that is, a poor showing, or a failure to be granted a chorus, in some previous contest.105 This last fragment is one of a number of complaints about the award of earlier prizes, which (it is said or implied) were scandalous, unjust or misguided. Apart from the well-known parabases of Clouds and Wasps and the other passages already mentioned, there is a suggestive (highly lacunose) papyrus fragment of Cratinus’ Wealth-Gods (fr. 171): ... bad ... but deserving of victory ... revealing ... approve of the situation that transpires ... lest these judges, weighed down by circumstances, [should not be] patient.

Here the chorus, in a parodos, seem to be blaming the audience or judges for missing the point of a past production; or perhaps they are expressing fear that the audience will not make the right decision in the current contest.106 Either way, there is a clear sense that the outcome of the contest depends not just on the incompetence of the judges but on external ‘circumstances’ that have nothing to do with the play itself. It seems probable that political considerations carried more weight than artistic criteria – a problematic state of affairs which may also explain the complaint aired in Aristophanes fr. 590 (from a badly damaged papyrus commentary). Here it is said that the archons based their decisions about whom to include in the festival shortlist on the wrong criteria: ‘... when granting a chorus in the Lenaea they ought to have considered ...’ Sadly, the fragment is incomplete (what ought the archons to have considered?) but the gist is fairly clear: Aristophanes, or somebody else, has been denied a place on the shortlist, and the decision-makers are being vilified. On one reading, the entire plot of Frogs can be interpreted as a sustained, ironic critique of the Athenian prize-awarding system in general. The play begins with Dionysus undertaking a search for his favourite dead poet, Euripides, but culminates in a poetic agôn in Hades between Euripides and Aeschylus – a contest which can obviously be seen as a counterpart to the adjudication at the Dionysia or Lenaea.107 By setting up a situation where Euripides, despite being the ‘obvious’ winner, not to mention Dionysus’ (and perhaps Aristophanes’ own?108) favourite, ultimately fails to win the prize, Aristophanes can be seen as 54

2. Literary contests criticizing a system in which incompetent judges routinely award prizes on an arbitrary basis to ‘the wrong’ candidates.109 Xanthias: So who is actually going to judge this competition? Slave: That was a tricky decision. The two playwrights found that there was a shortage of discerning people. Aeschylus would not agree to having the Athenians as judges – Xanthias: He probably thought that most of them were criminals! Slave: – and he thought that the rest of them were inept at making judgements on the quality of poets (Frogs 805-10).

As so often before, the theatre audience are criticized for their lack of discernment. But in this contest, the decision-making power is taken out of the hands of the spectators and given instead to Dionysus, ‘because of his long experience of the art’ (811). As has been pointed out, this is scarcely any better than the status quo. In the first place, Dionysus in his comic persona is a buffoon. This aspect of his character is very well attested in other plays and fragments,110 but never more so than in Frogs. The god, who has just been beaten in a musical agôn of his own by a bunch of frogs, is far from being a perceptive critic – he doesn’t know his Hipponax from his Ananius (658-61) – and when Euripides calls him an idiot, Dionysus happily replies: ‘Oh yes, I quite agree’ (917-18). But Dionysus, as god of the theatre, can be thought of as having presided over, and thus approved, the award of all previous (faulty) prizes, and his verdict in the agôn of Euripides and Aeschylus thus typifies the sort of faulty decision that one comes to expect at the god’s festivals. The final joke in Frogs is that Euripides is not even allowed the runner-up prize: second prize is awarded to Sophocles (who did not even take part in the contest), and Euripides comes a measly third!111 When the victorious Aeschylus is being sent on his way back to the upper world, Pluto says to him (1500-4): Goodbye, then, Aeschylus – go on your way, and best of luck to you! Save our city with your good advice, and educate the idiots – there are certainly plenty of them!

The ordinary people in the theatre audience do not emerge well from all this treatment. But how did they respond to being presented in such an unflattering way by the comedians? It is hard to say. The only two ancient sources who mention audience abuse are unhelpful and contradictory.112 It is possible that the audience would have interpreted the comedians’ abuse ironically, and enjoyed it as part of the joke. But it is also possible that the playwrights were being deadly serious, and genuinely insulting to at least a large proportion of the audience members, when they denounced them as stupid. As modern parallels show, the dividing line between ironic insults and genuine rancour can be uncomfortably narrow: comedians whose stage acts rely on verbal abuse, such as Jimmy Carr, Bernard Manning or Freddie Starr (who 55

The Comedian as Critic from time to time throws live maggots at audience members), can often cause genuine offence. It is difficult to interpret these passages, just as it is difficult to reach a definitive understanding of many of the jokes in ancient comedy. This is due not to the time lag involved, nor to the impossibility of locating the author’s personal voice in among the plurality of views expressed by his characters, but mainly to the pervasive presence of irony. Because comedy relies for its effect on irony, every utterance, however apparently straightforward, might turn out to have a meaning subtly – or completely – different from its surface meaning. These insults to the spectators could work as jokes if they were interpreted as meaning the complete opposite of what they seemed to mean: that is, as good-natured joshing, or an eccentric sort of captatio benevolentiae. Alan Sommerstein, for example, sees audience abuse as ‘effective and safe, because each individual spectator assumes that it does not apply to him’.113 But these utterances could function equally well as serious expressions of disdain for hoi polloi from disgruntled and undervalued playwrights (who, one notes, were not otherwise renowned for their democratic sympathies).114 Without any firm clues apart from the words in the script, either interpretation is possible. Those who interpret these insults as ironical cannot believe that a playwright would have run the risk of alienating his audience and thus endangered his chances of winning the prize. But this objection (along with much of what is written about comedy) relies on an unexamined preconception about the competitive spirit of the writers. As I have said, we cannot automatically assume that literary competitions are essentially the same as other types of competition (or that ancient agonistic culture in general was homogeneous). In particular, there is no reason to assume that all playwrights actually cared whether or not they won prizes. This may perhaps seem a controversial statement, but actually it is perfectly plausible. In the absence of any evidence to show what the playwrights actually thought (apart from statements in the mouths of their characters), it is just as likely as the alternative view.115 The comedians never give the impression that they are terribly bothered about their previous failures: after all, they are hardly reticent about mentioning them, and they even make (rather good) jokes out of the situation. Platon (Peisander fr. 106) makes light of his own poor prize-winning record in the festivals, saying that his own plays never do as well as those of his rivals, even though he supplies them with all their ideas. When one year the archon turned down his bid for a chorus, Cratinus seems to have turned this supposedly embarrassing fate to comic effect (Cowherd fr. 20);116 and similarly, at the end of his comedy Cheirons (fr. 255), he informed his audience: ‘I only just managed to get this play completed in two years’. On the face of it, this is a boast about the composition process of Cratinus’ work and its painstaking attention to detail,117 but it seems likely that the poet is once again joking about the fact that he was not granted a chorus at the first time of asking.118 56

2. Literary contests Why enter a competition which one does not necessarily want to win? I suggest that the judges’ verdict may well have been of consequence to the actors, the chorêgoi, and even the Athenian people at large, but that for the comic poets themselves the most important consideration was not to come first, but to be admired by their ideal or ‘target’ audience – which in some cases would have consisted of an elite minority of sophisticated, literate people, fellow writers, and so on. Or perhaps the main concern of many writers, even if they did not win first prize, was to be awarded a chorus – that is, to be given the opportunity to mount an extravagant performance of their work at somebody else’s expense. Whatever Aristotle and others might have thought, drama arguably needs a stage for maximum effect – which in classical Athens meant obtaining a performance slot at a festival. Getting through the initial selection procedure, then, would have been far more important than winning first prize. (In a sense, then, the ultimate ‘critic’ would have been the archon who drew up the shortlist of competitors.119) Never to be awarded a chorus at all would perhaps be humiliating, but to be placed first – or second – or third – by a mass audience, whose opinion they disdained, may well have been a matter of comparative indifference to the playwrights (whatever they might profess in their plays). In any case, winning second or third prize did not necessarily constitute ‘failure’ as such, though of course it could selectively be presented or perceived as such in certain situations.120 If this is true, the comedians’ recurrent focus on winning or losing can be seen, along with their various other jokes about their rivals, as part of a system of stock ‘running gags’,121 rather than as literal statements of personal ambition. It was funny to complain about unjust treatment at the hands of audiences and judges, because the outcomes of the competitions were no more to be taken seriously as artistic judgements than (let us say) the verdicts of the judges at the Eurovision Song Contest. A somewhat better recent parallel (in Britain) is provided by television panel games such as Have I Got News For You and QI,122 where there is never more than a basic pretence that the competing teams are trying to win. What is at stake is not getting the answers right and scoring points, but simply cracking jokes. The competitive element (in the straightforward sense of getting the questions right and scoring points) is practically absent, and often the rival teams’ scores are not even counted up. I suggest that this is more or less how the ancient comic ‘competition’ worked. Of course, this is not to say that no poet ever wanted to win a prize, just that prize-winning need not have been invariably the chief concern of each competing poet. The truth about how comic or tragic playwrights perceived their own work, and the way in which they constructed their ideas of value and prestige, is likely to have been rather more complex or difficult to pin down. In the end, the huge gaps in our evidence mean that we can never know what these competing playwrights really thought about prizes. Even if we could interview Aristophanes, Cratinus or any 57

The Comedian as Critic of the others, it is unlikely that a definitive answer would emerge. This is because, as parallels from the modern world show, public statements made by writers about prizes won by themselves and others tend (for whatever reason) to be characterized by a recurrent irony, ambivalence or inconsistency. Creative artists of all types tend, from time to time, either to celebrate or to play down winning or losing, in a way that is basically impossible to interpret.123 We are all no doubt familiar with artists who have publicly devalued or refused prizes. Woody Allen, to take just one example, notoriously disdains to attend Oscars award ceremonies, letting it be known that he prefers to spend the evening at a jazz club. Allen’s film Annie Hall (1977) contains the line: ‘Awards! All they do is give out awards! I can’t believe it: “Greatest Fascist Dictator: Adolf Hitler”.’ Yet this film also won four Academy Awards, which Allen was happy to accept.124 Just how much disingenuity lies behind ironical, or semi-ironical, posturing of this sort? It is impossible to answer that question definitively: indeed, it is probable that the artists themselves do not entirely know the answer. But I am reminded strongly of the ironical speech delivered at the Booker Prize ceremony of 1986 by Kingsley Amis (who won the prize with his novel The Old Devils): ‘Until just now I had thought the Booker Prize a rather trivial, showbizzy caper, but now I consider it a very serious, reliable indication of literary merit.’ In his Memoirs, where Amis discusses this speech and the hostile reaction it produced, he adds: ‘Memo to writers and others: Never make a joke against or about yourself that some little bastard can turn into a piece of shit and send your way.’125 Looking at modern writers is all very well, but let us conclude this section by looking at a couple of particularly revealing comic fragments. The first is from The Little Child (fr. 99), in which Platon says to his audience: Were I not under excessive pressure, gentlemen, to turn in your direction, I should not have ventured forward to make a speech of this type.

The seemingly apologetic tone here is evidently an ironical pose. Platon is really drawing our attention to the fact that all his rivals had been doing the same sort of thing for years, and that the ingratiating appeal to the audience had become a boring cliché of comedy. He is implying, furthermore, that he is putting up a show of competitive spirit only because one was somehow required to do so by the hackneyed conventions of the genre or occasion – a point of view which makes this fragment a highly significant piece of evidence. Finally we have a fragment from Amphis’ comedy Dithyramb (fr. 14), which is interesting partly because it shows that music might at times play a part in the decision to award a prize.126 Here two speakers are discussing a musical innovation called gingras (a new type of woodwind instrument, according to Athenaeus, who quotes the passage):


2. Literary contests A: [I’m going to use] the gingras, an extremely clever thing. B: What’s the gingras? A: A new invention of my own: I haven’t yet revealed it to the theatre audience, but it is already all the rage at symposia in Athens. B: But why don’t you bring it out in front of the public? A: Because I’ve been waiting until I’m allotted a tribe that is really eager for victory. I know it will shake up everything, like a trident, with all the applause it gets.

This tantalizingly short passage exhibits three significant motifs. First, it illustrates, once again, the direct link between the audience’s response and the success of a work (whatever the official judging procedure was): the volume of the audience’s applause implies a likely victory. Second, novelty is identified (as elsewhere) as a possible criterion for success. Third, cleverness is an additional criterion, linked to novelty (whether it actually swayed the judges or not). The fragment has some other points of more considerable interest. It implies (as does Longinus, for example) that the competitive spirit could, on occasion, be seen as a stimulus towards new developments and artistic excellence. For Amphis’ characters, innovation is directly linked to the audience’s tastes and the desire for a prize. The speaker here, a dithyrambic poet, is saving up his new instrumental effects for an occasion when his tribe is particularly keen to win the competition. Perhaps this is not very surprising; but what is rather more interesting is that the innovation in question would already have been familiar to some of the more privileged audience members. The inventor of the gingras tells his interlocutor that his instrument is already part of aristocratic high culture – it is well liked by the guests at private soirées – even though it has not yet entered the public domain. This contrast between élite and popular culture is very telling. As one scholar points out, what we are seeing here is ‘dithyrambic poets bringing tit-bits from the cultural riches of the upper-class private world of pleasure into the public world of the mob in the interests of their own victory’.127 In addition, this evidence has important implications about the creative process and the circulation of cultural value. Genuine cultural activity and true appreciation – the genesis and consumption of works of art, literature, and music – is seen as going on in the ‘field of restricted production’, quite independently of the public, institutionalized prizewinning circuit. Those who actually produce works of art, literature, and music are part of the élite sphere, and will continue to produce art, whether or not it wins prizes.128 Their ‘ideal’ audience is thus potentially much smaller, and more discerning, than the masses who fill the theatres at the festivals. All of this, if true, provides support for the view that victory or defeat in the competitions might have been a matter of selective or comparative indifference to the poets themselves, nearly all of whom, inevitably, would have belonged to the aristocratic class in society. The really important factor is, as has already been stated, that prizes from the fifth century 59

The Comedian as Critic onwards were state-controlled. The democratic appropriation and transformation of an essentially aristocratic sphere of activity changed the way in which cultural ‘value’ was publicly conferred, but the artworks continued to be produced, just as before, largely by the élite in society, who could afford either to ignore or to acknowledge the supposed ‘value’ of prizes. Art and literature existed, and were perpetuated, irrespective of politics and prizes. 2.7. Performances vs ‘literature’ The ‘anti-prize’ mentality of the ancient critical tradition makes sense in the light of Bourdieu’s analysis of the ‘dualist’ structure of the cultural field – we are seeing the emergence of a distinct ‘field of restricted production’.129 But the ‘elitist’ attitudes of the critics do not simply represent a series of attempts to distinguish high-brow art from l’art moyen. There is something else more specific at stake. It is clear that many writers are, in different ways, attempting to distinguish the purely literary or textual aspect of ancient drama as an area of study separate from all its other (not just performative) aspects. The tragedies, comedies, and satyrplays were just one, comparatively small, constituent part of huge public festivals which carried a great deal of religious and political significance, and it is clear that the award of prizes was often (implicitly or openly) a political decision.130 Modern criticism has swung back in the opposite direction, privileging the ‘context’ of ancient drama – its socio-political and religious aspects – above its value as ‘literature’; but in ancient criticism there is a clearly discernible movement to decontextualize literary works, and a growing sense that the job of the critic is to evaluate texts pure and simple, according to specialized ‘literary’ criteria based primarily on form rather than content.131 Aristotle is again the most influential proponent of such a view. Many have noted his tendency to play down the performative and visual side of tragedy (in particular, his view that ‘spectacle’ ( ) is the least important of the constituent parts of tragedy);132 he never mentions religion or ritual at all; he similarly overlooks politics.133 Indeed, his whole understanding of tragedy in the Poetics is based on its supposed predilection for ‘universals’ rather than ‘particulars’.134 This approach to drama, which strips away historical context in favour of more timeless values, devalues not only the award of prizes but also the festival and public performance as a whole. Performance is seen as an irrelevant distraction, for ‘a tragedy can do its job without performance and actors’.135 Literary criticism is all about the words in the text, as Aristotle makes clear by comparing tragedy to non-mimetic forms of literature: ‘tragedy produces its meaning without movement, just as epic does: a reading makes its meaning quite clear’.136 Elsewhere, Aristotle concedes that pity and fear can be elicited by the stage action, but also simply by the plot: this is really a more important consideration and the sign of a better poet.137 60

2. Literary contests The postulation of an ideal audience of discerning readers is an important part of Aristotle’s achievement as a critic, and one which reflects the growth of literary scholarship and the book trade in his own time. The same idea is developed further by another extremely influential critic several centuries later.138 Longinus’ treatise On the Sublime – perhaps the most fully developed classical exposition of what Bourdieu would call ‘autonomous’ art – has more to say about the activity of the professional critic and the act of reading. In a famous formulation,139 Longinus declares that literary criticism ( ) comes only as the final result of long experience – by which he means reading and rereading. But such a prolonged, intimate relationship with the texts was impossible for the competition judges. Given what is known of the festival set-up, it seems almost inevitable that adjudication followed directly on the performances.140 This meant that, even if the judges had access to texts of the competing plays,141 their decision had to be hasty and nonreflective – the direct opposite of what Longinus sees as true criticism. These views might seem difficult to reconcile with Longinus’ apparently approving attitude to prizes (de Subl. 33.1, 33.4, 35.2: quoted above). But, although his language does reflect the procedure at festivals,142 Longinus is definitely not talking about actual prizes. His subject is literature of all sorts, not specifically drama (or any other type of literature composed for competition). When he refers to prizes, he is not talking literally about the awards made in any real-life competition; these are abstract, metaphorical ‘prizes’ corresponding to the taste-judgements of experienced, civilised literary critics like Longinus himself. His borrowing of a metaphor is simultaneously a criticism of the competition system. Despite his admission that rivalry, and the ambition which it produces, can make poets better (44.1-4), and despite his implication that in general it is a desirable thing to win prizes, Longinus is in fact rejecting the existing culture of prize-awarding. He is not opposed to prizes altogether, but he is suggesting a radically different type of judgement and a qualitatively different, more élite, type of prize. The true ‘judges’, he claims, are in fact posterity and the whole of human experience (de Subl. 36.2): If you were to pick out and assemble together all the mistakes made by Homer, Demosthenes, Plato, and all the other great writers, the total would be very many times less numerous than all the felicities which one could find in the works of these heroes. Thus the whole of time and the sum of human experience, judges whose sanity cannot be doubted by envious detractors, take the crowns of victory and place them firmly on their head; they maintain their prizes irrevocably, and will in all likelihood keep them as long as water flows and tall trees flourish.

This last sentence naturally implies that in real life the judges’ decisions have (on particular occasions or in general) been so misguided as to seem ‘insane’ – powerful condemnation indeed. The critics’ focus on texts and literature is connected to a debate about the type of value possessed by good writing. Longinus’ view is that in the 61

The Comedian as Critic real world prizes denote ephemeral, not permanent, value: the qualities that abide are different in kind from the qualities that win prizes at festivals. And, as before, the value of the judgement depends on the nature of the judge: If a man of discernment and literary expertise hears a thing many times over, and it fails to dispose his soul to greatness or to leave him with more food for reflection than just the words themselves, but instead seems diminished upon repeated inspection, this is not genuine sublimity: it endures only for the moment of hearing. Genuine sublimity contains substantial food for thought, and bears repeated inspection.143

It is the precise time-scale of the critic’s activity that is important here. If true criticism depends on prolonged reflection, the material under consideration must necessarily last for longer than a single moment. Thus dramatic performances are ruled out as inherently impossible to criticize properly, and the focus shifts to texts as artefacts, whose physical survival is imperative. It would all have been very different in an age of cameras and DVDs. As I have already pointed out, many scholars regard the emergence of a distinct category of ‘literature’ as a new development of the fourth century and later. However, the evidence shows that this ‘textualizing’ attitude is not an invention of so-called professional critics such as Aristotle and Longinus. It is already seen, or hinted at, in fifth-century writers contemporary with the heyday of classical theatre.144 One important writer in this respect is Thucydides. In his programmatic preface he describes his Histories as ‘a lasting possession for all time, rather than a competition-piece to suit the tastes of an immediate audience’ ( , 1.22.4). The wording here is uncannily similar to Longinus 7.2, with its focus on the specific moment and the time-scale of literary judgement. Two contrasting models of literary value – the ephemeral competitionentry and the permanent text – are being juxtaposed. Thucydides is not rejecting drama itself (indeed, he is heavily influenced by drama in the texture of his own writing145), nor is he rejecting the principle of competition in so many words;146 but he is rejecting, specifically, the ‘value’ conferred on drama by prizes, in favour of a more genuine, lasting type of value. He sees his own work specifically as something that will endure (unlike dramatic performances). Thucydides’ conception of literature and its value is textual and monumental, ‘decontextualized and countercultural’.147 All of this is the direct opposite of the world of performances, festivals, instantaneous judgements, and prizes, which by their nature denote ephemeral and impermanent value only. This conflict between performative (ephemeral) and textual (permanent) conceptions of poetry may be seen as permeating the outlook of the fifth-century comedians as well, even if (predictably) their precise attitude to texts is not always easy to gauge. At any rate, though, it is clear that Aristophanes, Cratinus and their contemporaries – whatever 62

2. Literary contests view one takes of their competitive spirit – were familiar with texts and book-rolls, and so would not have conceived of their art as exclusively performative or impermanent. This is suggested inter alia by a number of scattered references to books, readers, book-stalls and booksellers in comedy (Aristomenes, Sorcerers fr. 9; Platon, Phaon fr. 189, The Poet fr. 122; Cratinus, Laws fr. 128; Eupolis fr. 327; Aristophanes, Birds 1288, fr. 795, etc.). A ‘textualizing’ attitude to drama may be seen as underlying a fragment of Eupolis’ Maricas (fr. 205), in which a poet-figure (probably representing Eupolis himself) contrasts the ‘ephemeral nonsense’ of his rivals with his own work, which is implicitly presented as being of long-lasting value (not to mention ‘serious’ and ‘solemn’ in purpose, as pointed out by the ancient scholar who cites the fragment).148 Cratinus in The Wine-Flask (frr. 208 and 209) also drew attention to the text of his play and explicitly described the process of writing it down. The idea that certain texts possess lasting value as ‘classics’ is central to a joke in Frogs where ‘Aeschylus’ says to ‘Euripides’: ‘My poetry hasn’t died with me, but his has died with him, and so he’ll have it down here to read out’ (868-9). Even if we prefer to think that this lasting value was perpetuated through re-performance, it is still clear that re-performance is necessarily based on the preservation and transmission of a text.149 Michael Silk makes a compelling case for seeing Aristophanes (in particular) as a writer first and a dramatist second, drawing attention to the comedian’s unusually ‘bookish’ preoccupations and pointing out that Aristophanes preferred to write the book and let someone else direct the actual production.150 But Aristophanes will not have been unique: it has often been suggested that other playwrights composed with a reading public specifically in mind. Certainly we know of several plays which were never performed but existed as texts – a category which included the revised Clouds, Nicophon’s Sirens and Metagenes’ Thuriopersians.151 Whether these plays were actually conceived of as ‘texts’ (rather than written with performance in mind) is a different matter; but it is obvious that some plays were not written for competitive performance: for example, those works commissioned by foreign tyrants (e.g. Aeschylus’ Women of Aetna, Euripides’ Macedonian dramas, and so on). Furthermore, such pieces show that artistic production and consumption took place in élite circles and (despite what is sometimes claimed) that drama was not necessarily or invariably linked to democratic or Athenian valuesystems.152 Aristophanes goes out of his way to tell his audience (or readers), in the parabasis to the revised Clouds, that his play ‘has come before you relying only on itself and its words’ ( , 544). This claim, which is made in the context of remarks about the relative levels of intelligence of Aristophanes and his audience, cannot be taken any more literally than any other claims in this extraordinarily ironic and self-contradictory passage; but it still depends on a clear contrast between the text of a play and its physical realization in performance.153 Ralph Rosen has made a strong case for seeing the revised Clouds as embodying Aristophanes’ 63

The Comedian as Critic implicit commentary on the evolution of this play from performance to a revised text: ‘Aristophanes must have been driven by a ... concern to “get the play right”, by inscribing the performed event in a medium that would be able to engage not just one audience at only one moment in time, but any audience that could lay hands on the fixed work, the text’.154 This is a judicious, open-ended conclusion that does not necessarily privilege textuality over performance, but (all the same) it does seem to me, in the light of their overall treatment of theatre audiences, that Aristophanes and some of his rivals are leaning towards a ‘target’ audience of educated readers. It would be too simple to claim that any of the comedians’ attitude to literature was exclusively textual, or that they were writing in such a way that would completely exclude or alienate the man in the street. Obviously the plays’ humour operates on more than one level, and even in Aristophanes’ hyper-sophisticated dramas there seems to be something for everyone to enjoy.155 Nevertheless, the sheer literariness of comedy – its allusive and intertextual texture, its reliance on detailed knowledge of earlier literary models, the enormous number of quotations (many of them recondite) that are embedded in the texts, and the enormously intricate scale and scope of the parodies – suggests to me that a great deal of the overall effect would have been lost on an audience who were not widely read.156 What we see in comedy is probably best understood as an uneasy and unresolved mixture of views reflecting the contemporary status of books and literacy in society more generally. Even though books had been around for several decades by the time Aristophanes was writing, literacy and book-ownership were not yet so widespread as to seem unremarkable, and (as has often been pointed out) many references to books and writing in late fifth-century texts are tinged with suspicion or criticism.157 In particular, the connection of books with the new-fangled intellectual culture of the sophists is significant – as in Aristophanes’ Fry-Cooks (fr. 506), where it is said that ‘either a book, or Prodicus, or one of those wordy chatterers has been the ruin of this fellow’. But who is the speaker of this fragment? It makes a big difference whether Aristophanes is reflecting a general feeling of mistrust of literate culture, or whether he is putting these opinions in the mouth of an ignoramus who is being derided. It is clear, at any rate, that the increasing production and circulation of books in fifth-century Athens gradually brought about a change in the way in which poetry was conceived of and written about, and (most significantly) a change in the criteria that were used to judge the quality of a literary work. The comedians will have played a part in this process of change, whether we choose to view them as simply popularizing (or lampooning) ideas from contemporary intellectual discourse, or whether we view them as contributing to that discourse in a more constructive or dynamic way. What is really important for our purposes, though, is that the ongoing dialogue between ‘elite’ and 64

2. Literary contests ‘mass’ values can be mapped quite closely on to the ‘poetry as literary text’ vs ‘poetry as performance’ debate. It is unlikely that the majority of the people in the theatre audience would have been able to read, or afford to own, copies of the texts of comedies, tragedies and other poetry.158 But the educated, wealthy elite would have been able to read their own copies of the texts – which means that the comedies would have had an independent existence as texts, completely separate from their one-off production (prize-winning or not as it might be) before the largely illiterate mob in the theatre. A choral passage in Frogs (1108-1114) has sometimes been taken to imply that literacy and book-ownership was widespread or even universal by 405 BC:159 But if you’re fretting on this score – that there may be a certain lack of education among the spectators, causing them to miss the point of the subtle things that you say – don’t worry, because the situation is no longer like that. They’ve undergone a rigorous training, and each one of them owns a book and understands sophisticated ideas ...

It is difficult to be confident that one has understood these lines properly, but it seems to me that they are almost certainly ironic. Books are seen as being the preserve of the intellectuals, and Aristophanes is (as usual) putting the boot in to the audience, who are very far from being intellectuals. The Athenian public are being cynically and insincerely flattered: the implication is that they don’t really understand anything, they certainly don’t appreciate book-culture, they don’t all have a book (or if they do, they only have one book at most), and they almost certainly will ‘miss the point’ of the poet’s sophisticated ideas, as they have done so often before. In fact, Aristophanes repeatedly derides those who are illiterate or poorly educated. This derisive attitude permeates the whole plot of Knights, which is brutally disdainful towards the demagogues and the Athenian people in general. The foolish, sheep-like masses who misguidedly support Cleon and the other demagogues in the Assembly are the same people who control the award of prizes in the theatre. In that play the awful Sausage-Seller’s illiteracy and his ignorance of poetry and music are given particular emphasis (188-9). It is said that such a person will appeal greatly to the Athenian public, for ‘the leadership of the people is no longer a job for a man of education or good character, but for someone who is ignorant and foul’ (191-3). Cleon is also mocked for his lack of education and culture (985-96), an unenviable state which is referred to as – a word which translates rather nicely (if not quite literally) into English as ‘pig-ignorance’. Similarly, a character in Wasps is mocked because ‘he doesn’t know how to play the lyre’ (959) – that is to say, he lacks the sort of education and polish that mark out an upper-class Athenian gentleman. Such jibes depend on a mixture of social and intellectual snobbery,160 and even if we do not treat them as literally representing the poet’s own point of view, they 65

The Comedian as Critic still reveal an outlook which makes it difficult to see Aristophanes as a man of the people (in any sense). Traces of a comparable attitude are also found in the work of his rival poets: Eupolis (Goats fr. 4) makes fun of someone who has lived his life ‘without having learnt even a scrap of culture (mousikê)’, and derides Hyperbolus because ‘he knows nothing at all about mousikê except the alphabet’ (Maricas fr. 208), while a similarly ill-educated character in Cratinus’ Laws (fr. 128) ‘doesn’t even know the alphabet’. Aristophanes and the other comedians are recurrently making implicit or explicit distinctions between different types of audience, different conceptions of literary value, or different modes of reading. This sort of distinction is perhaps seen most clearly in Frogs, the whole plot of which is essentially based on a clash between purely ‘literary’ and other types of criteria (including political considerations and dubiously formulated ideas of the ‘usefulness’ of drama).161 One recalls that at the start of Frogs (52-4) Dionysus is prominently depicted as reading a text of Euripides’ Andromeda; but this ‘textual’ conception of drama is completely lost sight of in what follows (the agôn resembles far more a conventional adjudication procedure, in which textual and verbal features are ignored in favour of political content). Dionysus’ initial idea of resuscitating Euripides is based on his preference for that poet’s literary style. Repeatedly in the earlier scenes from the play we are prepared for the idea that Euripides and Aeschylus will be judged according to literary technê (762-3, 766-7, 770, 780, 785, 793, 811, 831, etc.) and with close attention to the words in their scripts (802, 814-29, 840, 875-84). As Nick Lowe observes, all the criteria that seem to be in operation in the first part of the contest (close reading, parody and stylometrics) ‘take for granted techniques of reading specific to the written text’.162 Nevertheless, the final decision is actually made on the basis of the political ‘message’ of their plays (understood in the crudest possible sense). When Dionysus, near the end of the play, tries to explain why he descended to Hades in search of a poet, he says that he wanted to save the city by obtaining practical advice from the poets (1417-21). But this is a completely different reason from that given in the prologue, where it is said that Euripides has to be brought back because he is a good poet (i.e., one who does not violate poetic technê or piss all over tragedy).163 Of course, it may be thought that this contest between literary and non-literary values remains unresolved at the end of the play (as witness the number of published discussions of Frogs). However, as I see it, Aristophanes is encouraging us towards the view that what passes for ‘literary criticism’ at Athens is often carried out in an arbitrary and uninformed manner, and that ‘literary’ values are confused with ephemeral concerns that are irrelevant to the actual works of art. In this respect, as in so many others, he anticipates the outlook of ancient critics from later periods.


2. Literary contests 2.8. Conclusions and consequences It is hard to find anyone of stature in the world of arts and letters who speaks with unalloyed respect for prizes, and still more difficult to find books or articles ... that do not strike the familiar chords of amused indifference, jocular condescension, or outright disgust.164

To suggest that the comedians’ ‘competitive spirit’ should be distinguished from the desire to win first prize at all costs is not such an odd suggestion as it might initially seem. It is completely in line with what we know about the cultural sociology of prizes in general. Literary and cultural prizes operate within the discourse of their own times precisely by stimulating an irreconcilable mixture of ‘pro-’ and ‘anti-prize’ views, which in turn reflect unresolved contests in status between everyone who participates in the debate. It is clear that the overwhelming mass of ancient literary criticism, for all its diversity, exhibits a predominantly devaluing, ‘antiprize’ mentality, but it seems equally clear that the comedians can be interpreted along the same lines. As I have been careful to stress, none of these writers is opposed in principle to the hierarchical ranking and adjudication of literature, but rather to the organization of the competitions, the identity and nature of the ‘consecrators’, the underlying values on which the prizes are based, or (perhaps most of all) to the fact that these underlying values are never made absolutely transparent. All the views above represent statements of a clash between value systems which vary quite widely in type and which often remain unspoken, as does the ‘value’ conferred by the prizes themselves. Social, political, and philosophical as well as ‘purely’ literary values are juxtaposed, often confusingly. It will be clear by now that the ‘anti-prize’ mentality, whatever else it may be, remains inherently competitive in spirit. It seems to me that the ‘anti-prize’ mentality corresponds closely in many respects to Bourdieu’s view of the ‘autonomization’ of art, and that the uneasy tension within ancient society between ‘pro-prize’ and ‘anti-prize’ views, or between élite and mass values, can be seen as directly reflecting what Bourdieu calls the ‘duality’ of the field of cultural production. Though Bourdieu himself would perhaps have doubted the applicability of his theories to a classical context, the ancient evidence does lend itself remarkably well to a Bourdieu-style analysis; and it does seem that, despite obvious contextual differences, there is indeed a cross-cultural consistency in the way that literary prizes function within society and critical discourse. The quotation at the head of this section (from English’s Economy of Prestige) refers to the modern media and cultural prizes in AD 2005, but it might apply equally well to comedy or any of our ancient material. One important similarity between Bourdieu’s approach and my own is that they both seek to explain long-lasting transformations in cultural values as arising from specific periods of change within society.165 The same could also be said, essentially, of the picture painted by Ford in 67

The Comedian as Critic The Origins of Criticism.166 It just depends on one’s identification of the crucial period of time in question. Whereas the invention of a distinctly ‘literary-critical’ attitude is seen by Ford as resulting from the intellectual developments of fourth-century Greece, it seems to me much more plausible that the crucial time was the fifth century. This was not only a period of unusual social, intellectual and political change in general, but also, more importantly, it was the period which saw the Athenians’ remarkable transformation of an existing agonistic literary culture into a fully institutionalized, democratic system. Even though subsequent classical contexts were not ‘prize-awarding’ cultures in the same way, or to the same degree, as fifth-century Athens,167 it seems clear that this highly distinctive era of Athenian competitions transformed the way in which classical literary critics in general thought about prizes (just as for Bourdieu the Industrial Revolution in Europe led to the permanent creation of the ‘modern’ cultural field). The ‘antiprize’ mentality does not always manifest itself in precisely the same way – it is always important to bear in mind the specific circumstances of genre, audience and context when reading each different author’s views – but the basic intellectual framework of élite vs mass culture pervades the whole tradition, including fifth-century comedy. The discussion above has, I think, a couple of important consequences for our understanding of the meaning and development of ‘ancient literary criticism’ as a discipline. The first is that ‘literary criticism’ can be treated as being a more inclusive genre (in terms of date, background, and type of writer) than is sometimes supposed. On my reading of the evidence, the writers traditionally labelled ‘ancient literary critics’ (such as Plato, Aristotle, Longinus and others) are not seen as doing something new or separate: it seems more likely that they are continuing and refining the terms of a debate that had already been going on for some time.168 Secondly, and more importantly, it is clearer than ever that the place of fifth-century comedy within the development of literary criticism needs to be re-evaluated. Of course, there remain serious difficulties of evidence and interpretation. What did the competing dramatists actually think about prizes for which they competed, and what views of literature were current in popular discourse generally at the time in question? These are the facts which we most crucially need to know, but they are also the most inaccessible to us. I am suggesting an approach to comic texts which attempts to answer some of these questions, but which may strike some readers as implausible. (Was winning or losing really not a matter of primary importance to the ancient dramatists?) Nevertheless, in the absence of definitive evidence, it is worth considering not just the widely accepted, ‘obvious’ or ‘commonsensical’ view of things, but a range of possible interpretations – a type of approach which is always worth bearing in mind when dealing with the ancient world. In the rest of this book I attempt to pursue these consequences more fully, by examining more closely the type of criteria that seem to emerge 68

2. Literary contests from comedy for judging literature. But, in the meantime, one could conclude by noting that the ‘anti-prize’ mentality in comedy does not seem to have had a damaging effect on prize culture itself – in much the same way (perhaps) that political comedy does not seem to have affected the audience’s political views or voting habits.169 It might even be said that prizes actually gain in value by being endlessly contested and debated in public. This is certainly true of modern prize-culture, in which disagreements with the judges’ decisions have been seen as not only inevitable but actually necessary for the perpetuation of the system.170 ‘Anti-prize’ views increase people’s perception of the prizes’ importance – for who would bother to contest the awards unless they mattered in some way? In addition, ‘anti-prize’ opinions also have the effect of stimulating public debate about literary value. To quote another modern commentator, the function of the Booker Prize is ‘not simply to promote the cause of serious fiction ... [but] to provoke rows and scandals, which may, in due course, promote the cause of serious fiction’.171 Once again, this observation may apply equally well to the ancient festivals (substituting ‘drama’ for ‘fiction’). Nobody, after all, is ever going to agree on such a thing as absolute value in literature or in any other area of life – and why should we desire such an outcome? Literary prizes represented – and still represent – a stimulus for critical discussion, not a critical consensus. The significance of literary and cultural prizes lies precisely in the fact that they have a polarizing function. Similarly, the significance of comic criticism (as I see it) is that the comedians are prompting us to perceive a series of polarities or tensions between different conceptions of literature and literary value. This function is seen most clearly in Frogs, but it is also implicit or explicit (as we have seen) in many other plays and fragments. The ‘critical’ outlook which we see in Aristophanes and some of his rivals is still very much in flux and not fully developed. Comedy is staging a series of overlapping contests of its own – between rival conceptions of literature and literary value: between elite and popular tastes; between form and content; between specialized, literary technê and other types of non-literary criteria; between texts and performances – even though the outcome of these contests is not always clear. The contribution of the fifth-century comedians to the history of criticism does not necessarily lie in the fact that they prefer one type of view to the other; rather, their importance lies in the fact that they are articulating (if not resolving) a debate about what sort of thing literature is and how one should evaluate it. The transformation of prize-culture by the Athenians and its attendant ideological problems, against a background of expanding literacy and intellectual transformations in society generally, provided the catalyst for this debate.



Novelty This chapter examines an elusive quality which is recurrently presented by comedians as being central to good comedy (and, by implication, central to good literature in a wider sense). This quality is kainotês, commonly translated into English as ‘novelty’ (though the word may also connote originality, innovation or modernity). Novelty is mentioned in comedy more frequently than any other item of literary-critical terminology, which might imply that it is to be seen as the most important criterion for judging literary value. Nevertheless, we ought to be suspicious of the ‘obvious’ interpretation (as ever when dealing with comedy). I shall argue that actually the comedians, despite appearances, are not all straightforwardly endorsing novelty as a principle of literary criticism; nor are they all to be seen as literally staking a claim for their own work to be seen as innovative. Rather, they are playing around with the concept of novelty, transforming this critical concept (which was already in current use in other contexts) into a recurrent source of irony and humour. In other words, ‘novelty’ – along with just about everything else in comedy – is to be imagined as appearing within a very large pair of ironical inverted commas (‘ ’).1 This ludic, ironical attitude may or may not have been used to convey a serious purpose or message. As I have been arguing, we are perfectly free to read comic irony in an open-ended, neutral way if we choose to do so: comedy doesn’t always have to be seen as ‘saying something’ about the material that it exploits. Also, the outlook and character of individual comedians no doubt varied widely. Some of our writers, such as Aristophanes, will have been sophisticated comic geniuses with a definite poetic agenda; others will have been run-of-the-mill hacks with nothing much to say for themselves (the fragmentary remains do not really allow us to make distinctions). Nevertheless, even on a neutral or weak reading of these texts, it is possible to see that something is being said, or implied, about novelty. Any sort of joke, whether it takes the form of excoriating satire or a bit of harmless fun, inevitably makes us take the subject of the joke a little less seriously. At the very least, all these references or jokes highlight the concept of novelty, making the audience laugh at a concept that they would have encountered in its serious guise somewhere else. A somewhat stronger reading would see the comedians as problematizing novelty:2 perhaps they are bringing to our attention the fact that many other poets and critics had been using (or overusing) this term, and prompting us to question the meaning of the word and its function as an evaluative term for literary critics. (What is novelty? Are all types of novelty equally desirable? – and so on.) But where Aristophanes is 70

3. Novelty concerned, it is possible to take an even stronger line. I believe that he should be seen as implicitly rejecting novelty altogether. This is suggested by two crucial observations about novelty. The first is that literary critics from the fourth century onwards almost never talk about novelty; they certainly never include it among the criteria for judging good literature. Where novelty is mentioned at all in the later critical tradition, it is stigmatized and said to be something to avoid. Plato and Aristotle, for instance, express a marked disdain for novelty in art and culture, emphasizing its potential dangers to society;3 while Longinus even says that a striving for novelty is responsible for all faults in literature.4 The second fact about novelty is that Athenian theatre audiences clearly loved it, and seem to have regarded it as a basis for awarding prizes in the tragic and comic competitions.5 The relationship between these two facts has already been spelled out (in Chapter 2) in relation to comedy. It seems to me that Aristophanes can be seen as anticipating the outlook of the so-called professional literary critic of later antiquity: his comedies can be read as implicitly rejecting the views of the mass public in favour of an alternative set of elitist literary values. Perhaps some of the other comedians can be interpreted along similar lines: it seems unlikely that Aristophanes will have been alone in this attitude, but the fragmentary state of the evidence makes it impossible to be certain. At any rate, even if one doesn’t like to see Aristophanes or any of his rivals as proto-Aristotelians, it is pretty clear that we will have to allow room in our interpretations for irony and selfdeflating humour. 3.1. Aristophanic self-promotion Let us begin by discussing three Aristophanic scenes in which novelty is prominent: the parabases of Wasps, Clouds, and Knights. These passages have been seen as possessing a special significance in terms of Aristophanic poetics, because here Aristophanes is not simply discussing a principle for literary criticism in a general or broadly applicable sense. He is making a much more powerful rhetorical claim: he seems to be trying to persuade us that he himself has special rights to the word . In these three self-justificatory scenes, Aristophanes is – ostensibly – presenting novelty as a ‘trademark’ theme of his own plays, which both characterizes them and sets them apart from the inferior (old-fashioned) products of his rivals. The first of these crucial scenes is from Wasps (1016-17, 1044-5), a passage which we have already examined in connection with the playwright’s relationship to his audience: At this point the author wishes to criticize the audience: he says that you’ve treated him unjustly, even after he’s given you such a lot of marvellous stuff in the past .... But last year you betrayed him – he was trying to sow a crop of the very newest ideas ( ... ), but you ruined the whole thing because of your complete stupidity.


The Comedian as Critic The ‘betrayal’ to which the author refers is the verdict of the judges at the previous year’s competition, in which Clouds failed to win first prize (a subject which we discussed in the last chapter). It is clearly implied that novelty ought to have ensured the play’s success: Aristophanes is pointing out to the audience that his play was brim-full of a quality that would normally have been guaranteed to win their vote. But Clouds came in last place, despite its superabundance of novelty – a problematic state of affairs. The cause of the problem is identified as the audience’s stupidity or lack of discernment: their criteria for awarding the prize in 423 are obscure, but supposedly they were aberrant or unsatisfactory in some sense. Aristophanes, perhaps some years later, revised the script of Clouds. The version which survives contains a completely rewritten parabasis, which is clearly designed as a continuation of the argument of the Wasps passage: the two passages are commonly read together as constituting a sort of intertextual dialogue or poetic manifesto.6 In the new parabasis of Clouds, the playwright gives rather more substance to his own claim to be seen as kainos, listing various specific innovations from his plays and contrasting them with his rivals’ hackneyed, repetitive, or apparently plagiarized material (Clouds 545-59): And I myself, being the poet that I am, do not preen myself, nor do I seek to fool you by presenting the same material two or three times over. No – I am clever enough to bring out novel conceptions every time ( ): not one of them is anything like the others, and all of them are ingenious ( )! It was I who punched Cleon in the stomach when he was at the height of his power – I didn’t go so far as to jump on him again when he was down. But these poets – the very second Hyperbolus lowered his guard, they have been relentlessly persecuting the poor sod – and his mum. First of all, Eupolis dragged his Maricas out before you – he re-tailored it out of the bits of our own Knights, and made a dog’s dinner out of it – and he inserted a drunken old bag into it, just so he could include the kordax. This was the same old bag that Phrynichus put in a play long ago – the one that the sea-monster tried to eat. Then Hermippus wrote another play attacking Hyperbolus; and now all the others are laying into Hyperbolus – and copying my eel imagery!

Novelty, if it can be pinned down more precisely, seems here to consist of original subject-matter: Aristophanes is referring specifically to political satire of a type that (so he says) had not previously been seen, the socalled ‘demagogue comedy’.7 It may be thought that novelty in plot or subject-matter constitutes a type of phenomenon rather different from the ‘very newest ideas’ mentioned in the Wasps parabasis (where it is usually thought that a sophisticated tone, or a certain intellectual or philosophical outlook, is being described). All the same, one notes that, here as elsewhere, Aristophanes mentions novelty and ‘cleverness’ in the same breath ( , 547). The words used in each passage ( and ) are somewhat ambiguous, and could refer to either tone or content;8 but there is no need for us to assume that ‘novelty’ was intended 72

3. Novelty by Aristophanes to be understood in a limited or quasi-technical sense. Indeed, as we shall see later on, a large part of the rhetorical usefulness of the concept lies precisely in its inclusive (or vague) range of meaning. Aristophanes is accusing his rival comedians of a marked lack of originality in terms of subject-matter. If we are to believe this account, what he is talking about amounts to a complex and tangled process of plagiarism. First of all (he says) Aristophanes wrote Knights; then Eupolis wrote Maricas, which ripped off not only Knights (for its portrayal of the central demagogue-character) but also Phrynichus’ Andromeda (for its portrayal of an ‘old bag’ – actually a tragic heroine); and then Hermippus wrote Breadsellers, another demagogue-comedy which ripped off both Aristophanes and Eupolis; and finally ‘all the others’ started doing the same thing (we know of at least one other comedy called Hyperbolus, by Platon, and no doubt there were more) – not to mention stealing Aristophanes’ joke about eels.9 We shall return to the topic of plagiarism later on in this chapter. But for the moment the main observation to be made is that Aristophanes – so he claims – stands aloof from ‘all the others’. He doesn’t need to plagiarize other people’s work because, unlike them, he is inventive enough to come up with his own material – he even refers to his plays as ‘inventions’ ( , 561) in the very last sentence of the parabasis. By placing himself at the start of this long process of plagiarism, Aristophanes encourages us to see him in any (or all) of three guises – the undervalued innovator, the put-upon victim of theft, or (most flatteringly) the authoritative model that everyone else is falling over themselves to imitate. His audience would no doubt have been familiar with this sort of stance, since it had already been explicitly articulated, albeit in a slightly different way, in his earlier play Knights. In the parabasis from that play (507-10), he makes his chorus members announce that they are proud to be speaking on behalf of the young Aristophanes, whereas they would have refused to work for one of the ‘old-fashioned’ comic producers ( ) – this is a striking claim, even if it is obviously a joke. The chorus go on to elaborate at length on the generation gap between obsolescent, old-time comics and the young, upand-coming generation of playwrights, addressing the audience in the following terms (Knights 518-25): Our poet says that…he has long been aware of the changeability of your tastes, and of the fact that you spurned his poetic predecessors when they became old: he knew what fate Magnes suffered as soon as his hair turned grey – Magnes, who won so many victories over his rivals’ productions .... When he reached old age, past his prime, he ended up being forced off stage, venerable figure that he was, because he wasn’t up to making fun of people any more.

The chorus go on to talk of poor old Cratinus, who nowadays (it is claimed) is a down-at-heel old dotard, doddering about the place, talking nonsense, and wearing a victory crown so old that it has withered on 73

The Comedian as Critic his head (526-37); and of Crates, who ekes out a precarious existence, his past successes behind him (537-46). Aristophanes pretends to be expressing sympathy for these old-timers, combined with flattery and even admiration for their past achievements, but they are actually targets of mockery: this would be pretty obvious even without the evidence of openly derisory jokes elsewhere in the play (such as Knights 400, where Cratinus is described as a bed-wetter). In fact Cratinus and Crates were not even terribly ancient in 424 when Knights was produced: Magnes is known to have flourished in the 470s, so was probably already dead, but these other two were still alive and kicking. Indeed, Cratinus defeated Aristophanes in the following year (423), which shows that he was still very much a serious rival, not a superannuated has-been. Aristophanes is on the defensive, and his seeming concern for the elderly is all too obviously an ironical put-down, delivered in the context of competitive self-definition.10 As Niall Slater has nicely put it, Aristophanes seems to be ‘working very hard to create a myth of succession, in which the two previous generations of poets are quite naturally supplanted by himself’.11 The main function of the Knights parabasis seems to be that of establishing a rhetorical distinction between old (= bad) and new (= good). As in the other passages above, Aristophanes positions himself clearly on the side of the new, but here he makes it more difficult than ever to define just what being ‘new’ might mean. We have already seen how hard it can be to decide whether novelty is a feature of style, tone, or subject-matter; but now an additional complicating factor is introduced, since Aristophanes implies that the character of an author – or, more specifically, his physical age – is relevant to judging his work. Is novelty exclusively the property of youth? Do elderly poets necessarily write oldfashioned poems? These questions suggest a link between the concept of novelty and another strand in early Greek poetics: the notion that a writer’s work is a reflection of his character, personality, or morals.12 If Aristophanes is suggesting that older writers have a qualitatively different outlook on the world, or a markedly old-fashioned style of writing, he may simply be expressing a general truism, with which many people in the audience would have agreed, or he may be gesturing towards a current literary-critical debate. The relationship between literature and a writer’s age is not frequently given explicit treatment elsewhere in the ancient critical tradition, but one thinks particularly of Longinus’ On the Sublime (which includes a notable discussion of ‘late’ works, based on the difference in outlook between the Odyssey, taken by Longinus to be a work of Homer’s old age, and the Iliad).13 At any rate, Aristophanes is complicating the debate here by linking the literary idea of novelty with the concept of a ‘generation gap’ – a concept which, as we shall see, has important social and political implications. Since Aristophanes himself was only in his twenties when writing Clouds, Wasps and Knights, it might be seen as expedient for him to treat literary novelty and physical youth as interchangeable terms. All three of the passages above seem to be working hard to establish 74

3. Novelty a particular association in the audience’s minds between the concept of novelty and the type of comedy that Aristophanes is offering. Aristophanes might seem almost to be coining his own epithet, encouraging us to think of him as the ‘novel’ poet (just as Theognis was the ‘frigid’ poet, Cratinus the ‘drunk’ poet, and so on).14 Such a strategy would obviously represent an attempt to ingratiate himself with the audience and festival judges, since, as all our sources confirm, audiences en masse valued novelty above all else. In all these parabases Aristophanes is openly appealing to the existing literary tastes of the public. If we read him at face value, he is not trying to change those tastes, but simply telling them the sort of thing that they want to hear. As I have already hinted, the orthodox view of these and other passages which talk about novelty is that they are to be read (more or less) completely straight. Of course, the views expressed by Aristophanes are not exactly simple, even on the most straightforward reading. As we have seen, they mix together several distinct ideas; they do not allow us to formulate any very clear definition of novelty; they are shot through with irony and a certain tongue-in-cheek playfulness; and, as ever, there is a powerfully competitive subtext beneath all of these claims, since Aristophanes’ novelty is always made to appear, implicitly or explicitly, in sharp contrast to the other poets’ lack of novelty. And yet scholars and commentators have invariably assumed that Aristophanes, for all his rhetorical posturing, is basically establishing novelty as a characteristic of his own comedy and a criterion for recognizing good drama in a more broadly applicable sense.15 Even Michael Silk, a writer who is unusually sensitive to the nuances of comic language and irony, sees these lines as representing the playwright’s own views on comedy and its ideal aspirations: ‘Comedy ... should be original, should be sophisticated, and should be serious. Aristophanes’ own comedy ... is all of these things.’16 Now Silk (to be fair) does point out that the picture is more complicated than this, and that Aristophanes does sometimes use just the type of old-fashioned subject-matter that he seems to reject (both here and elsewhere).17 All the same, he adheres to the view that, by and large, Aristophanes’ claims to innovation are to be read at face value (and he eventually concludes that Aristophanes’ own distinctive type of novelty is to be located precisely in his sustained engagement with Euripidean tragedy).18 The situation is actually rather more complicated. As I have been arguing throughout this book, the way that comedy works, in general, is persistently ludic, ironical, polyphonic and anti-literal. No apparent statement of programmatic authorial intent, however explicit or straightforward it may seem, can be trusted. Even if it is thought that I am being over-sceptical in this respect, it has to be said that the alternative type of approach, which essentially tries to sift through the lines of comedy and extract the poet’s own views, rests on hermeneutically shaky ground. The tendency of critics to read some parts of comedy literally and other parts ironically is somewhat arbitrary: how are we supposed to make the choice?19 75

The Comedian as Critic Even if we remain wary of theoretical approaches, and even if we choose to persist with the crudely literal assumption that Aristophanes himself is speaking plainly to us in these passages, we will have to think more carefully about the rhetoric here: how is it supposed to function as an act of communication between author and audience? (It does not really matter for these purposes whether we picture the ‘audience’ as a theatre full of inebriated Athenian farmers or a few bookish intellectuals sitting in the library.) If these self-justificatory claims really are to be read literally, how are we to suppose that they actually worked in context? We must imagine a crucial moment at which irony, wit, sophistication, selfeffacement, humour and all the other normal characteristics of comedy are temporarily abandoned. At this moment the playwright turns to us, in propria persona, and wheedlingly pleads with us (‘But seriously ... please vote for me! Please! My work is seriously innovative! It is so much fresher and cleverer than anyone else’s stuff! Give me the prize! Please! Go on!’) Can we really imagine Aristophanes or his rivals adopting this sort of stance? (If you think that this sort of thing would go down well in front of an audience, perhaps you should try it out the next time you perform a stand-up routine.) Even if a comedian believes that his material is the last word in comic brilliance, he isn’t going to say so in this blunt, artless fashion: it’s definitely not ingratiating, it’s not cool, and (worst of all) it’s not funny. The ‘But seriously ...’ moment is alien to Aristophanic comedy (and, I would say, all successful comedy in general). So what are we to make of all these Aristophanic claims of novelty? I think that they can all be read ironically, as representing the sort of thing which someone less funny and less sophisticated than Aristophanes might claim literally. They are not claims of novelty but jokes about novelty. In the sections which follow, we shall pursue various lines of argument which show that it is difficult to interpret Aristophanes’ claims of novelty in any way except ironically. But the other portions of Clouds itself are perhaps the most important evidence in this respect, since they openly contradict or disprove all the other statements that Aristophanes makes in the parabasis (538-43).20 Aristophanes’ comedy, contrary to its claims here, does feature characters wearing the leather phallus; it does have dancers performing the obscene kordax; it does show old men being beaten up; it does feature cries of iou iou (they are the opening words of the play!) ... and so on. These howling inconsistencies are impossible to miss – and they strongly suggest that Aristophanes’ supposedly programmatic claims are ironic or even nonsensical in other ways as well. Another highly significant factor is that Aristophanes so often mentions novelty in connection with ‘cleverness’ ( ). Indeed, in the parabasis of Clouds, novelty and cleverness are treated as being virtually synonymous (574-8). This juxtaposition of ideas ought to make us question the supposed virtues of novelty, not just because ‘cleverness’ is so often treated with ambivalence (as we have already seen in Chapter 1), but because Clouds on the whole is savagely satirical in its attitude to in its various guises (the suspect teaching of Socrates, the pretentious 76

3. Novelty posturing of the sophists, or the shallow, dishonest arguments of the new rhetoricians).21 Aristophanes, then, appears to be championing, embodying and condemning the same values simultaneously: unless we want to see him as irredeemably inconsistent (or even schizophrenic), we will surely have to see him as an ironist. How we choose to interpret the irony, of course, is another question. 3.2. The ubiquity of novelty It can sometimes seem as if Aristophanes is trumpeting novelty as a distinctively or even exclusively Aristophanic quality, which sets him apart from his rivals and predecessors. But in fact all of the other comedians were seemingly making the same sort of claims for their own art. Pherecrates in Corianno (fr. 84) invites his audience to turn their attention to a ‘new invention’ of his, which he calls ‘conjoined anapaests’.22 Cratinus’ reference, in Odysseus and Friends (fr. 153), to a ‘new plaything’ has been seen as a self-conscious reference to the playwright’s own innovations in staging.23 Metagenes, in The Man Who Liked Sacrifices (fr. 15), also trumpets his own originality, saying that he ‘feasts’ his audience on all sorts of ‘novel’ appetizers,24 while a couple of characters (probably poets) in Eupolis’ Autolycus (fr. 60) argue over which of them has the more original ideas and which has merely ‘licked the lips’ of other poets’ dishes.25 All the comedians talk about novelty, and all of them apparently stress their own originality – but the joke lies precisely in the fact that everyone was doing it. Jokes about novelty were still going strong even in the fourth century and later.26 One recurrent strand in middle and new comedy, picked up by Athenaeus (who cites much of our surviving material), is a contrast between tragedy and comedy based on the respective kainotês of each genre. Comedy, so its authors claimed, was ‘new’ in the sense that it was based on the invention of material, whereas tragedy was ‘old’ because it used mythical material that was already in existence.27 This theme is exhibited in the famous fragment of Antiphanes’ Poetry (fr. 189) which claims that tragedians, with their ready-made, old-fashioned myths, have it easy in comparison with comedians who are forced to come up with their own plots and characters from scratch. Several other fourthcentury comedians confirm that striving for kainotês is jolly hard work, for which (it is implied) they should be admired or rewarded.28 A character in Xenarchus’ comedy Porphyra (fr. 7) complains that ‘the poets are rubbish: they never come up with a single new invention, but instead they all just rearrange the same stuff in some way or another’. Is he talking about tragic or comic poets? It hardly makes any difference. Xenarchus was writing several decades after Aristophanes, but he is still making the same point: even the complaint about boring old jokes has itself become a boring old joke. Novelty, however we interpret it, is certainly not an original or unique aspect of comic poetics. By the time that Aristophanes was supposedly 77

The Comedian as Critic trumpeting his own kainotês in the 420s BC, there was nothing new about novelty – a paradox which is central to understanding the whole subject. In fact, Greek poets from the very earliest times had always been claiming novelty for their own works as well as reflecting selfconsciously on the theme of novelty in a more abstract sense.29 Almost the first literary-critical judgement ever recorded is based on the criterion of novelty: Telemachus in the Odyssey tells Penelope that men always like to hear the sort of song which strikes them as the newest or freshest ( , Od. 1.351-2).30 Various other early Greek poets, writing selfconsciously about their work, also seem to praise or exemplify novelty: Hesiod, Alcman and Pindar are often quoted in this respect.31 This strand in ancient Greek poetics would have been familiar to many of those who watched or read fifth-century comedy, and Aristophanes and his rivals can be seen as responding to a well-established strategy of poetic selfpresentation. As we have seen elsewhere, a comedian’s persona or ‘voice’ is, to a large extent, a work of pastiche, based on selected elements taken from the personae of earlier poets.32 This material causes us to reflect that if a poet makes a claim to novelty (sincerely or ironically as it might be), he is also placing himself in a long and well-attested poetic tradition. But if one praises novelty while voicing the same sentiments that one’s poetic predecessors have been voicing for hundreds of years, is this really a new attitude – or is it rather old-fashioned? This paradox reminds us of another paradox: that in fact the whole question of originality in Greek (and Roman) literature is heavily dependent on a sense of tradition. Doing new and original things was valued, but equally it was seen as important for a poet to place himself in the great tradition of his predecessors: intertextuality, allusion, and ‘the anxiety of influence’ are at the heart of everything.33 As Bacchylides wrote – several decades before Aristophanes – ‘One poet is heir to another, now as in days of old; for it is no easy matter to find gates of verse that have never been uttered before.’34 3.3. Old vs new in late fifth-century Athens Old comedy, then, is ‘old’ in more ways than one. But it is worth extending our focus somewhat beyond comedy itself, and looking at the concept of kainotês in Athenian society more generally. Obviously the word kainos, along with its opposite terms archaios or palaios, had been doing the rounds for some time. These are common, all-purpose words, which do not originally possess any special (technical or quasi-technical) sense. But in certain contexts words can change their meanings. One notes, in passing, that this was a concern of certain fifth-century intellectuals whom one might refer to as ‘literary critics’ in the broadest sense: Democritus, Prodicus, Protagoras and others were interested in the contestable relationship of words to their referents ( ).35 This interest is reflected in contemporary comedy – most notably, in Aristophanes’ Clouds – and Thucydides famously puts a more sinister 78

3. Novelty spin on the slippage of meaning in his description of the civil war in Corcyra.36 But perhaps even more relevant for our discussion here is the notion of ‘keywords’, as defined by the sociologist Raymond Williams. Williams is interested in the way in which social and cultural development can be seen as taking place within discourse: that is to say, language does not simply reflect change, but rather it plays a dynamic role in the process of change. Williams describes his approach to language as a mixture of ‘cultural history, historical semantics, history of ideas, social criticism, literary history and sociology’,37 and in his book Keywords he traces the ‘cultural archaeology’ of a selection of significant words such as culture, society, theory, taste, gender, and so on. These and other ‘keywords’ are not specialized or discipline-specific words, but constitute ‘a general vocabulary ranging from strong, difficult and persuasive words in everyday usage to words which, beginning in particular specialized contexts, have become quite common in descriptions of wider areas of thought and experience’. Because Williams is interested in twentieth-century culture, he is able to conduct a very full enquiry into many different types of evidence, including not just literature but also film, theatre, the mass media, newspapers, television, interviews, and so on. As classical scholars, we are in a much less privileged position: any sort of sociological inquiry into the ancient world is handicapped by lack of evidence. Nevertheless, it could be argued that comedy, because of its nature (as an unusually self-reflexive form of literature, enacted in front of a very large public), performs some of the functions attributed to the media in modern times, and that comedy, for all its interpretative problems, may be the best category of evidence available for understanding fifth-century society and culture in general. At any rate, it seems that the concept of ‘keywords’ can provide a useful way of looking at our material. Words such as kainos (along with sophos, dexios and so on) do seem to function as ‘keywords’ in the Athens of the last decades of the fifth century. Other contemporary evidence reinforces the sense that we are dealing with words that in this specific context have become charged with special meaning and resonance. It did not mean the same thing for Aristophanes to call himself kainos in 423 BC as it did for Pindar to call himself kainos more than half a century earlier. A comparative approach from sociology is useful for reminding us that writing literary history is a historically situated act which must be contextualized (as far as possible). We are not just dealing with abstract, purely ‘literary’ questions, however much our ancient sources (or modern critics) might try to persuade us that this is so; we must try to be cultural historians as well. It is also worth bearing in mind what is perhaps the most significant of Williams’ findings – the fact that definitions of keywords are not always relevant. What matters is not definitions of words but rather the uses to which words are put. We have already seen how difficult it is to define kainotês, but we shall be more interested in the way that kainos and related words are used by the comedians and others. 79

The Comedian as Critic It is clear that there is something significantly new about the social context in which Aristophanes and his rivals were writing. It seems that in a particular period of Athenian history (from approximately 431 BC), people in general were talking about novelty more than ever before, in response to big changes in culture and society – what has been called the Athenian ‘cultural revolution’ or a fifth-century ‘generation gap’.38 In a relatively short period of time, the city of Athens witnessed the rise of the new breed of ‘demagogic’ politicians (as satirized in Aristophanes’ Knights, Eupolis’ Maricas and other comedies);39 the advent of the sophistic movement, with its radically innovative and unsettling approach to language and morality (as satirized by Aristophanes, in Clouds, and almost all the other comedians);40 the appearance of the ‘New Music’; a number of serious challenges to democracy; enormous demographic and economic changes in the life of the city; the introduction of new gods into Athenian ritual; and the increasingly disastrous war against the Peloponnesians and their allies. Francis Dunn’s recent book Present Shock in Late Fifth-Century Greece provides an excellent cultural and historical analysis of this crucial period, suggestively comparing the mood at Athens in the period 431-401 to the upheavals of the 1960s. Dunn’s concept of ‘present shock’ reflects what he sees as a widespread anxiety among Athenians of these decades, ‘whereby the magnitude and speed of cultural change severs ties with the authority of the past, immersing individuals in a disorientating present’.41 It is within this exciting and unsettling period in history that kainos became a ‘keyword’, as people responded in various ways to ‘The Shock of the New’ (to steal a useful phrase from a different context).42 The Athenian ‘cultural revolution’ has been widely discussed elsewhere. For our purposes, the main things to note are the number of writers who talk about novelty, the number of different fields of activity in which novelty was identified, and the ambivalence or unease that surrounds the concept. ‘Novelty’ was used by radical innovators (in poetry, music, politics, and intellectual life) to refer to their own activities, but it could also be used by their detractors as a pejorative term. In a famous passage from Thucydides (3.38.4-7), reporting a debate which took place in 427 BC, Cleon is made to criticize the voguish new developments in politics and rhetoric brought about by the sophists and the demagogues (of which he himself was perhaps the most notable example): You are very good at being deceived by an argument which is formulated in a novel way ( ), but when the argument is tried and tested you don’t want to follow it up. You are always slaves to anything that is unusual, and you are suspicious of anything normal [...] You do not resemble an assembly deliberating about politics, so much as an audience sitting at a sophist’s feet.

This attitude, which presumably owes more to Thucydides than to Cleon’s own views, combines several strands which we encounter widely 80

3. Novelty in our evidence. Novelty emerges as a bogus quality which is contrasted with genuine virtues (good sense, logic, or ‘anything normal’); it is also associated with the suspect ‘cleverness’ of the sophists.43 The most notable feature of the speech, though, is its tone of open condescension or contempt for the Athenian masses who slavishly admire novelty: this tone chimes in with an attitude which, as we shall see, is expressed or implied several times in comedy. Thucydides is a counter-cultural elitist, whose rejection of novelty (along with other superficial or transitory concerns) is part of his overall commitment to abiding literary value and the praise of posterity.44 A related idea, in Thucydides and elsewhere, is that novelty – in politics, in morality, in everyday life – may actually be dangerous. What we call ‘novelty’ may actually be a transformation for the worse. The word kainotês and its synonyms (especially neôterismos) could have overtones of revolution: in Thucydides’ History, the verb kainousthai is used strikingly in association with the civil war in Corcyra, with starkly negative connotations.45 (It is in precisely this passage that Thucydides discusses the instability of language and the sinister way in which words may acquire ‘new’ meanings.) From history to tragedy: Euripides reflects the modernizing tendencies of his age, making his characters go out of their way to refer, selfconsciously, to the ‘novelty’ of the events in various plays. His use of the word kainos often seems to be a form of ‘shorthand’, drawing our attention to his provocative invention or alteration of myths, or to the construction of his innovative plots. This effect is seen in plays such as Orestes, where the chorus introduce the (completely invented) final scene by announcing that ‘here is novelty upon novelty’ (1503), or in Helen, where the main character archly points out a certain ‘out-of-dateness’ in the plot ( , 1056); or in Women of Troy, where the chorus call upon the Muse to sing about Troy ‘in new choruses’ (511-12): a sign either that Euripides has altered the traditional myth or that he has composed the ode in the style of the ‘New Music’.46 But the comedians also drew particular attention to this tendency of Euripides in the course of their parodies. Aristophanes called his Helen of 412 ‘the new Helen’ ( , Thesm. 850) – a phrase which not only highlights the extreme oddity of that tragedy, but also relies for its humour on the audience’s recognizing the reference to Euripides’ self-consciousness (and even his penchant for using the word kainos itself).47 Richard Kannicht believes that the phrase ‘the new Helen’ was a popular slogan (‘Schlagwort’) in Athens by 411 when Aristophanes used it in Thesmophoriazusae – reflecting, once again, an impression that everyone was talking about kainotês.48 This impression is strengthened further by Telecleides’ pointed reference to a ‘new’ play of Euripides ( , fr. 41). The practitioners of the so-called ‘New Music’ are particularly interesting in this context. Melanippides, Phrynis, Philoxenus, Cinesias and others were pioneers of a strange, avant-garde musical style based on the incorporation of new notes into the scale, the clashing combination 81

The Comedian as Critic of different tonalities and rhythms, the use of imitative sound-effects, and the subordination of words and meaning to music and rhythm.49 Timotheus is probably the most notable New Musician because of the overtly aggressive challenge that he poses to old-fashioned values, not just in musical style but in the radical subject-matter of the poetry. For example, in his Persians (fr. 791.211-12) he sang: ‘I dishonour the Muse of older days with my new songs’. Elsewhere (fr. 796) he declared: I do not sing the old songs! My new songs are better! It is a new Zeus who now reigns; Cronos’ reign was in the past. Away with the Muse of old!

As Timotheus’ most recent commentator notes, these claims can be interpreted in the light of the early lyric poets’ strategies of selffashioning,50 but all the same one would not want to play down the startling effect of sentiments such as these. It is hard to imagine a more brashly defiant voice: it seems that Timotheus is going out of his way to offend the older generation.51 Perhaps Aristophanes and the other comedians were doing the same sort of thing – using the word kainos to highlight their own modernity, in a bombastic fashion – but the overall tone of comedy is markedly different from the humourless, strident stance of Timotheus. It seems more likely that the comedians’ references to kainotês are actually a distorted or parodic version of this self-important sort of claim, especially when we consider that the New Musicians are invariably the target of comic mockery in various ways.52 It is striking that every single surviving reference to the dithyrambist Cinesias is derogatory. He was recurrently a favourite butt of comedians’ humour, mocked not only for his musical innovations but also for his use of language, his religious views, his personal appearance, his weak health, and his loose bowels.53 He appears in person in a notable scene from Aristophanes’ Birds (1373-1409), where he enters the stage spouting pretentious, highfalutin verses. He is allowed to get as far as announcing that he has come to Cloudcuckooland ‘with fearless mind and body, in pursuit of a new ...’ before he is abruptly cut off. Pherecrates, in Cheiron (fr. 155), is even more uncomplimentary, presenting a memorable image of a personified ‘Music’ who complains of the horrendous treatment she has undergone at the hands of Cinesias and others. Music describes it as a kind of violation or rape, while the sound of the innovators’ discordant harmonies is said to be ‘twisty’, like ‘perverse ant-hills’ or ‘cabbages riddled with caterpillars’. The comedians are giving voice to a widespread view that new forms of art and culture may be no less dangerous than new political developments. Plato and Aristotle’s ideological objections to the New Music are directly analogous. For example, we read in the Republic (4.424c) that ‘one must beware of changing to a new form of music, since this endangers the entire social structure. The forms of music are never 82

3. Novelty disturbed without unsettling the very constitution of the state’. (The word translated ‘music’ here is the Greek , which in fact may encompass any type of musical, literary or cultural activity.54) Numerous comparable passages exist (leading us to reflect that in this respect, as in many others, the comedians are directly in line with the fourth-century critical and philosophical tradition).55 The Athenian ‘musical revolution’ directly corresponds to the other changes taking place in fifth-century society. It has been compared to the invention of jazz music in turn-of-the-century New Orleans or Chicago, or the emergence of rock-and-roll in America and Britain in the 1950s: these musical movements also had a marked social and political significance. To listen (or not to listen) to jazz or rock-and-roll was an important statement of one’s social, ethnic, economic, or age-group identity – a clash between old and new, between black and white, between high and low culture, and so on. It is clear from the evidence of the comedians and others that the New Music provoked a similar reaction in Athens. Many of the writers above seem to share the view that that innovative art poses a threat to social or political life – an idea that is explored at some length by Yun Lee Too in The Idea of Ancient Literary Criticism.56 Too’s main focus is on Longinus’ On the Sublime, which she sees as marking a ‘retrospective yearning’: current writers are criticized for an excessive striving for novelty (kainospoudaion), and the past is seen as ‘an alternative to a defective present’. But this outlook is not confined to Longinus: it is reflected in the comedians and other fifth-century writers. Indeed, it could be argued that the majority of cultural critics, in the fifth century or in whatever period we care to mention, are basically conservative or nostalgic in character.57 Zadie Smith, for instance, has recently made precisely the same point about contemporary criticism and literary journalism (‘Here’s the funny thing about literary criticism: it hates its own times, only realizing their worth twenty years later. And then, twenty years after that, it wildly sentimentalizes them out of nostalgia’).58 No doubt one could argue with Smith’s precise time-frame, but she is talking about a phenomenon which seems to be cross-cultural to a large degree. Our late fifth-century sources have to be interpreted primarily in their own cultural context, but they also represent an attitude which is seen much more widely in other texts and cultures. 3.4. ‘Fashion’ in literature and music Quite apart from the controversy provoked by the ‘New Music’, it is clear that musical and literary tastes were changing in this crucial period. Comedy provides plenty of evidence for this change. For example, a character in Aristophanes’ Poetry (fr. 467) complains that some sort of poetry or music is ‘not the kind of thing that people used to perform in the old days’, while another character, in the second, lost Women at the Thesmophoria (fr. 347), talks of ‘the old days, when Crates was still popular’ – a fragment which recalls the parabasis of Knights (see 83

The Comedian as Critic above). The decrepit jurors in Wasps are depicted as being laughably obsessed with the long-dead tragedian Phrynichus, who is caricatured as a figure of extreme antiquity.59 A character in one of Eupolis’ plays (fr. 366) says that literature or music ( ) is ‘a deep and varied thing’: Athenaeus, who quotes the fragment, says that this is a barbed comment about novelty.60 Cratinus in Odysseus and Friends (fr. 153) satirizes an old-fashioned ( ) female poet, making one of his characters refer to ‘this odd, out-of-date stuff belonging to the time of Charixena’. ‘Belonging to the time of Charixena’ ( ) was probably a stock phrase denoting an old-fashioned or obsolescent style: the same phrase is used to describe someone’s ‘rotten’ aulos-playing by a character in Theopompus’ Sirens (fr. 51). It is hugely significant that poets began to be categorized as being not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (as such) but, rather, as being either ‘in’ or ‘out’. This is, I believe, the first period in history at which we explicitly encounter the idea of fashion in literature. The comedians may be held partly responsible for the development of this idea: jokes in comedy would have functioned as a barometer of changing tastes, but they may also have played a dynamic role in shaping those tastes.61 On the other hand, perhaps one can also detect, in Aristophanes and Eupolis, a distinct sense that literary fads are not worth taking seriously. At any rate, a number of old comedies featured contests or comparisons of one sort or another between fashionable (modern) and unfashionable (old) poetry and music. It is clear that in 423 BC Euripides was ‘in’ while Simonides was very much ‘out’. This is shown by the argument between father and son in Clouds, which touches on their respective literary tastes (1353-65). We are told about, but do not actually witness, a sort of sympotic contest in which Pheidippides and Strepsiades recite extracts from their favourite poets. Euripides, the fashionable choice of the younger generation, is admired by Pheidippides despite (or because of) his depiction of kinky sex between a brother and sister (in Aeolus), and his tragedy is also given the double-edged epithet ‘clever’ (1370, 1377). The underlying idea here (as in Frogs) is that tragedy ought to be morally improving, but Euripides is immoral or dangerous – though of course Aristophanes’ overall attitude to Euripides is notoriously difficult to interpret. By contrast, Simonides is seen as safe but ‘old-fashioned’ ( , 1357) or perhaps simply ‘bad’ ( , 1363). Lyric poetry in general seems to have dropped out of fashion.62 In Eupolis fr. 398 (from an unknown play),63 it is said that the poems of Pindar are no longer read, owing to the philistinism ( ) of the public – a statement which may or may not be undercut by irony. Even if more survived of the fragment or its context, it would scarcely be easy to gauge Eupolis’ opinion either of Pindar or of public tastes. In another unplaceable Eupolidean fragment (fr. 395), we are told that Socrates likes to recite Stesichorus as his party-piece at symposia. Since Socrates (in comedy, at least) is usually the representative of all that is ‘novel’ and ‘clever’,64 it seems rather odd that his poetic tastes should be 84

3. Novelty so far behind the times, and so one again suspects the presence of irony at work, without being in a position to prove it. Irony is definitely present, however, in Eupolis’ Helots (fr. 148), where a character declares: It is old-fashioned ( ) to sing songs from Stesichorus and Alcman and Simonides – but it is fine to listen to Gnesippus, who has come up with nocturnal songs for adulterers to use when serenading women ...

What begins as a conventional contrast between ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles of poetry changes direction and is transformed into exaggerated praise of the poet Gnesippus (who is reviled elsewhere).65 The apparent approval is immediately undercut by the statement that Gnesippus’ poems are fashionable precisely because they form a suitable accompaniment to extra-marital hanky-panky: presumably the speaker is either an adulterer or a faux-naïf. One notes the similarity of outlook between this fragment and Clouds (an outlook which is also paralleled elsewhere): novelty is associated with a decline in sexual morality or in moral standards more generally.66 It seems that Eupolis was particularly interested in the clash of old and new poetic styles – another indication that Aristophanes is not unique in his preoccupation with novelty. In yet another Eupolidean fragment (fr. 326), one character offers another character the choice of hearing a recital of old or new poetry: (A.) Come on, then: do you want to listen to the contemporary style of poetry or the old-fashioned sort? (B.) Read me an example of each, and when I’ve listened to both types and weighed them up, I’ll choose which one I think best.

This is slightly different from the preceding examples in that the contest between the old and new styles was actually played out on stage, rather than merely being described. The audience would, presumably, have been treated to a couple of (no doubt parodic) extracts from the work of representative poets, and characters A and B would then have debated the relative merits of each type. This lost comedy, whatever it was, may have presented a staged process of performance, detailed ‘practical’ criticism, and adjudication, rather similar to what is seen in Frogs.67 Unfortunately, we have no context for this fragment, so it is impossible to say how the characters’ conversation developed. It may be that the rest of the scene was entirely ludicrous, and that Character B was the object of ridicule; but, even if so, this would not really make much difference. What matters is that the scene clearly depends on an explicit opposition between two contrasting methods of approaching literary texts. The first method, which is rejected here, involves yielding unquestioningly to the latest fashion. The second method, preferred by Character B, involves forming a considered opinion based on a close reading or detailed comparison (synkrisis) of the texts. The second method represents the 85

The Comedian as Critic outlook of the true ‘literary critic’ – that is, the view that literature should be judged according to a specifically ‘literary’ set of criteria. By staging such an opposition, it may well be that Eupolis is implicitly endorsing the second type of approach. Whatever one’s precise interpretation of the fragment, its opposition between distinct modes of reading is central to our reading of comedy as criticism, which makes fragment 326 an enormously valuable piece of evidence. It seems to me that Aristophanes and Eupolis embody a distinct sniffiness towards the latest literary fashions. They imply that it is unacceptable to admire literature merely because everybody else admires it. Perhaps this is really what many of us do as literary critics, whether or not we admit openly that this is the case.68 But a focus on the concept of fashion (as such) can provide yet another way of distinguishing the rhetoric and outlook of the professional ‘literary critic’ from mainstream or popular critical discourse.69 Fashionability is intimately bound up with ephemeral popular culture, whereas the dominant tendency in (ancient and modern) literary criticism is based on the idea of the canonical text or ‘classic’. Classic literature is timeless: it never goes in or out of fashion. Therefore ‘fashion’ must be an irrelevant or misguided notion, and it increasingly comes to seem that the comedians’ use of kainos means not ‘new’ but ‘newfangled’. 3.5. Anti-novelty This brings us to several important passages in which Aristophanes implicitly criticizes or rejects novelty. These lines (along with all the other lines in the plays) cannot be taken as literal statements of the author’s viewpoint, but they reflect a type of critical position that is the exact opposite of the problematic parabases discussed above. We have already noted that in Clouds, everything that is new, modern, or clever is viewed with suspicion. It is remarkable to discover that almost everything that Aristophanes says of himself in the parabasis is echoed in the self-characterization of the obnoxious ‘Worse Argument’, who is the representative of the younger generation and the new style of education (1036-96). The Worse Argument, in common with a number of other comic characters, uses ‘old’ ( ) as a term of abuse, denoting naïvety or stupidity,70 and he aligns himself clearly with everything that is novel and clever; he also emerges as immoral and dangerous. It is the Worse Argument that Pheidippides asks Socrates to teach him, precisely because he thinks it will make him ‘clever’ (1111). In reality, though, this education results mainly in domestic violence and chaos. At the start of the rhetorical contest between Better and Worse Arguments, the following exchange occurs (895-7): Better: How will you defeat me? Worse: By coming up with novel ideas ( ). Better: Ah, yes: novelty is currently in vogue ( ), on account of these idiots. Worse: They’re not idiots – they’re clever men ( )!


3. Novelty The motifs of cleverness and novelty are again linked together as reflecting the same sort of intellectual and moral outlook. ‘The idiots’ are the people in the audience, and novelty is said to be in vogue precisely because of the audience’s tastes. Lines such as these are obviously meant to be funny, but they can be read as implying a contempt for the audience and a rejection of the values that they hold.71 In this context, lines such as Clouds 1399-1400 take on a different nuance: How pleasant it is to be au fait with everything novel and sophisticated, and to be able to despise the established customs!

These lines are sometimes quoted out of context as yet another example of Aristophanes’ supposed endorsement of kainotês, but in the context of the plot they come across as manifestly ironical and disparaging. What we are seeing in this scene, and the later stages of Clouds, is really the social and moral dangers of novelty – a changed world in which sons are allowed to beat up their fathers with impunity. More significant still is a passage from Assemblywomen (577-80, 583-7) in which the chorus and Praxagora converse about Praxagora’s cunning plan for the city of Athens: Chorus: Our city requires a cunning new plan of some sort. Just be careful, when you outline it, that none of it has ever been said or done before: they hate to watch the same old stuff over and over again. [...] Praxagora: Well, I trust that I’m about to teach them some useful lessons. But I’m terribly anxious about the audience: will they be receptive to novelty? Will they not want to stick with conventional, old-fashioned stuff? Neighbour: Don’t be anxious at all about striving for novelty! We value novelty – and indifference to what is old – above anything else.

Suggestively, the word used by the Chorus here to refer to Praxagora’s ‘plan’ is , the very word that is used of Aristophanes’ own plays in the parabasis of Clouds (561: see above). But it will already have been clear enough that these lines, though they are making a political point, obviously function as a metatheatrical comment about the plot of the play.72 Whereas the earlier play seemed to present kainotês in a good light, the tone here is more complex and almost certainly pejorative. What is particularly significant is that novelty is directly connected to audience response. In the earlier passage Aristophanes seemed to be saying that the audience did not value novelty enough at the Dionysia of 423 BC; now he strongly implies that they value it too much, because they are shallow, superficial and misguided. Some of the Athenians sitting in the theatre may well have recalled, somewhat uncomfortably, an earlier scene in which Praxagora says disparagingly: ‘the Athenians are never content to leave anything be – they’re always pointlessly concerning themselves with some innovation or other’ (Eccl. 219-20). Now I am not implying that Praxagora’s views represent Aristophanes’ 87

The Comedian as Critic own ‘real views’ in any straightforward or literal way, any more than do other characters’ views. But they do represent the presence, within the plays, of a rival voice and viewpoint which is manifestly at odds with the supposedly ‘Aristophanic’ persona as seen in the parabases and elsewhere. This rival viewpoint, even if we do not want to see it as fatally undermining the authorial claims of novelty, is at least to be read in dialogue with such claims. This sort of attitude connects Aristophanes to later literary critics in terms of its implied disdain for the audience and for the sort of qualities which are valued by the masses and win prizes (the subject which we discussed at length in Chapter 2 above). The audience and judges are seen as being unthinkingly swayed by novelty, at the expense of anything else, but there are hints of the existence of an alternative, preferable set of values. Perhaps we are being encouraged to view novelty (as did Plato, Aristotle, Longinus, and others) as a flashy and vacuous quality which might blind audiences to genuine literary excellence. In fact Plato, in the Laws (7.797a-b), includes a conversation about novelty which is uncannily similar to Praxagora’s scene above: Athenian Stranger: [People in general] worship anyone who is always introducing some novelty or doing something out of the ordinary [...] Indeed, we might even go so far as to say that this sort of person is the greatest danger that can ever afflict a state, because he changes the character of the young without anyone noticing, by making them reject the old and value the new.... Cleinias: Are you talking about the way the public finds fault with anything old-fashioned? Athenian: Precisely so. Cleinias: Well, you won’t find us ill-disposed to this sort of argument: we couldn’t be more receptive to it.

Aristophanes and Plato are unmistakably reflecting a similar perspective on novelty in these passages. When we consider the various other ways in which Assemblywomen corresponds to Platonic ideas (notably, in its presentation of political ideas and its discussion of gender and society), perhaps it will seem less surprising that Aristophanes should resemble Plato in his literary-critical outlook as well.73 At this point it is worth comparing a writer from a very different context, but one who is preoccupied with both novelty and old comedy. This is Lucian of Samosata, the satirical essayist and critic of the Second Sophistic. Perhaps it may seem a little odd, methodologically speaking, to attempt to illuminate our fifth-century material by using a writer from more than six centuries later. But on the other hand, Lucian is heavily influenced by old comedy, and indeed presents himself, on occasion, as a ‘comedian’ in the Aristophanic mould.74 He can, with caution, be used as a reliable source for the ancient reception of comedy and a connoisseur’s sense of what comedy was all about. Lucian’s Zeuxis (or Antiochus) is of particular importance for our study, partly because it is almost entirely concerned with kainotês 88

3. Novelty in art and literature (a remarkable fact, bearing in mind how seldom kainotês features in any literary or critical writings at all after the fifth century) and partly because Lucian’s attitude towards novelty is openly dismissive. In this comic dialogue Lucian talks to us in the persona of a playwright who professes a wish to write the sort of material that is worthy of his audience ( , 12). He begins by describing the embarrassingly effusive reaction of the spectators following one of his rhetorical performances: They greeted me, seemingly full of admiration – at any rate, they accompanied me on my way for quite a while, shouting out compliments on all sides, to such an extent that I turned quite red, worrying that I might be unworthy of such praise. This, then, was the one main point that they made: all of them singled out one and the same thing – the original conception implicit in my works and the great innovation that they embody. ‘Oh! What novelty!’ – ‘By Heracles, how unexpected!’ – ‘What an ingenious chap!’ – ‘No one could adequately describe the freshness of his ideas!’ – and so on. [...] I was rather irritated by their adulation, and thought to myself: ‘So this is the only attractive quality in my works – that they are unusual and avoid the beaten track? But what about fine language composed according to the good old rules? Sharpness of intellect? Thoughtfulness? Attic charm? Harmony? Literary art in general? – I suppose my stuff is far removed from all these qualities ... (Zeuxis 1-2).

It is clear that these people who admire Lucian’s work so slavishly do so for the wrong reasons. They have missed the point, because they are idiots, and so their praise is worthless (ibid. 3). Rather than valuing genuinely literary values such as language and craftsmanship, they are swayed by the superficial, worthless consideration of novelty. Lucian proceeds to illustrate and expand on this theme using analogies from the spheres of visual art and military strategy, demonstrating that kainotês, far from being admirable, is in fact a dangerous, suspect quality. He even quotes Telemachus’ famous words from the Odyssey, that people always prefer the newest songs, in such a way that makes us interpret that passage as implicitly critical of audiences (since Telemachus is seen as rejecting the majority view of novelty). Lucian is a valuable source for the identification of different constituencies within the audience and the idea of a ‘target’ audience of elite, discerning readers, to be differentiated from the mass audience. He disdains the superficial, ignorant tastes of the uncultured; he is obviously writing for hyper-sophisticated littérateurs, whatever he might claim. In this respect (I believe) he directly reflects the implicit views of Aristophanes. Zeuxis is not the only work in which Lucian displays this sort of outlook. Near the beginning of A True History, for example (1.2-3), he ironically claims novelty for his work while openly admitting that his work is a rehash or pastiche of earlier works including Homer and Herodotus; while in The Rhetor’s Education (17) he advises aspiring sophists to strive for a flashy, superficial novelty of style and content if they want to win over their audiences.75 Apart from Plato and Aristotle, 89

The Comedian as Critic Lucian’s work gives us perhaps the clearest and most explicit distinction between mass values and elite values that we see in the ancient critical tradition. The sort of values prized by Lucian are based on the good old rules ( ): they are specifically said to include intellect, thoughtfulness, linguistic charm, harmony and literary technê in general. In other words, literature should be judged by distinctly literary criteria: these criteria do not include novelty, which is simply a crowd-pleasing substitute for true quality. It seems to me that Lucian has taken his whole outlook, and his authorial persona in Zeuxis, directly from a perceptive reading of Aristophanes and other fifth-century comedy. 3.6. Palimpsests, rehashes and repetition Even if the comedians did not present kainotês in an ambivalent or ironical way, it would be rather difficult to define the concept in relation to the genre of comedy. This is because, as we have been arguing throughout the book, the defining premise of Greek komôidia is that it is an inherently secondary, parasitic, intertextual literary form.76 These comedians (whatever else they may be doing) are nearly always referring to, parodying or reworking some other text, and so the effect of comedy on its audience depends heavily on quotation-spotting, allusionchasing, name-checking and literary in-jokes of various kinds. Even if the comedians never mentioned kainotês at all, criteria such as novelty or originality would perhaps strike us as strange or paradoxical concepts to apply to literature which is so intrinsically derivative. The comedians’ jokes about kainotês are based on the assumption (or, more accurately, the pretence) that the only funny jokes are those that no one has ever heard before. But this assumption is bogus: everyone knows that old jokes can be just as funny as new ones, and in fact repetition, running gags, stock jokes and catchphrases can be used as deliberate comic devices.77 Bruce Kawin’s interesting book Telling it Again: Repetition in Film and Literature distinguishes, helpfully, between ‘destructive’ and ‘constructive’ repetition, treating repetition as a deliberate aesthetic device, used by creative artists as a way of manipulating the psychological state of their audiences. Much of what we see in old comedy is ‘constructive’ repetition. The repetition of jokes within a single scene or play can be funny in itself;78 but in general, the more often a joke is told, the funnier it can become (in the right hands). Jokes can also take on a life of their own: even if they are not particularly funny in themselves, or even if we have forgotten their original point, they may become funny precisely because we recognize them as running gags. We groan: ‘Oh no – not that old chestnut again!’ but there is a particular sort of humour and pleasure behind the groan. The repetitive aspect of many jokes is central to theoretical or cognitive definitions of humour by Bergson, Frye and others, which are based in part on the element of recognition.79 Repetition is not only a comic device but also one of a number of 90

3. Novelty authorial strategies for producing meaning in a broader sense. The theoretical notions of intertextuality and dialogism, which we have touched upon before in our discussions of voice and parody, are again relevant in this respect. Kristeva’s often-quoted dictum – ‘any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another’ – seems particularly well suited to our material,80 as does Eco’s view that ‘much of the pleasure of art resides in the expectation and enjoyment of iteration, rather than in the supposed innovation’.81 These words might almost have been written with Greek comedy in mind. However, Genette’s concept of ‘hypertextuality’ (which is essentially a development of the ideas of Kristeva and others) may be seen as particularly helpful for analysing what is going on in comedy. ‘Hypertexts’, in Genette’s definition, are ‘toutes les oeuvres dérivées d’une oeuvre antérieuse, par transformation, comme dans la parodie, ou par imitation, comme dans la pastiche’.82 They are palimpsestic texts which construct their meaning by evoking, or comprehensively reworking, other anterior texts known as ‘hypotexts’. Genette’s concept seems to apply particularly well to our material, and his phrase ‘la littérature au second degré’ seems, quite by accident, to provide a perfect description of the inherently secondary genre of komôidia. Aristophanic comedy is an unusually hypertextual or palimpsestic medium. It relies, for its complete effect, on an enormous level of detailed literary knowledge and sophistication on the part of the audience (or readers); any meaning that it may possess resides in the very fact of its literariness. All of this means that mere novelty or originality are likely to be valued rather less than tradition – that is, demonstrating a wide knowledge of other texts and positioning one’s own work in relation to them. Comedy is really all about spotting the allusions. Claims of ‘novelty’, in this case, appear in a rather different light. It is clear that comedians could selectively present themselves as either ‘old’ or ‘new’, depending on which aspect of their art they cared to emphasize at any given point. It is in this context that the comedians’ jokes about ‘plagiarism’ and ‘collaboration’ should be interpreted. We have already encountered Aristophanes’ elaborate charges against his rivals at Clouds 545-59 (see above), but there are various comparable passages. Perhaps the funniest example of this sort of humour comes from Platon, who in his Peisander (fr. 106) bemoans the fact that impecuniousness has led him to act as a ‘ghostwriter’ for other, more successful, comedians – and that these ghostwritten comedies always do better in the competitions than the plays which he submits under his own name! This unusual variation on the plagiarism/collaboration motif combines a nice line in seeming selfdeprecation with an ironical attitude towards the rivalry of the dramatic contests. But Platon is hardly to be seen as novel. Many other comedians made the same sort of jokes – including, for instance, Cratinus’ complaint that ‘the bald poet’ (i.e. Aristophanes) has been stealing his material (The Wine-Flask fr. 213); Eupolis’ claim that he has ‘collaborated with the bald poet’ and given him his Knights as a ‘present’ (Dippers fr. 89), or his 91

The Comedian as Critic characters’ attempt to reassure the audience that they are not going to be doing another Knights (Maricas fr. 210); Aristophanes’ accusation of Eupolis for ‘making three cloaks out of one bit of material’ (Anagyrus fr. 58) ... and various other comparable jokes.83 Such claims used to be taken literally, but more recent, more nuanced discussions have shown that they constitute a sophisticated series of intertextual running gags rather than literal accusations. All these poets are constantly talking about novelty while openly reusing material. There is a constant lively, dynamic pattern of appropriation to be observed in all these plays and fragments. This is emphatically not ‘plagiarism’, done secretly in the hope that no one will notice. It is done openly, brashly and blatantly – the pleasure lies precisely in our spotting the work that has been ‘plagiarized’ and appreciating the use that has been made of it. (As a character in Aristophanes’ Amphiaraus (fr. 30) says, ‘I know I’m doing something old-fashioned ( ) – it hasn’t escaped my notice!’) It is good to rip off or refashion one’s own or someone else’s material, provided that one does it in a funny or appealing way. Perhaps, then, reading between the lines, one could say that the foremost criterion for judging comedy is not originality, but imaginative borrowing and reworking: the best comedy is the one which is the most elaborately intertextual. This is more or less the view of Malcolm Heath, who has described everything in comedy as a ‘repertoire’ of shared material: in such a context ‘any poet could lay claim to originality, any rival could make a counter-claim of plagiarism’.84 And yet I think Heath slightly overemphasizes the open-endedness of this process and the degree of homogeneity exhibited by the comedians. If one sees all these poets as essentially doing more or less exactly the same thing, this leaves comparatively little scope for individuality. Inevitably some comedians would have been funnier than others – but there is more to it than that. It is likely that what distinguished one poet from another was the degree of self-consciousness that they exhibited, and the degree of implicit or explicit commentary on their material that they included in their work. The whole conception of Frogs, Aristophanes’ most complex literary comedy, is hypertextual. The prologue introduces ‘old jokes’ as a major theme of the play right from the very first line, as the slave Xanthias says (Frogs 1-2): Master, shall I tell one of the usual jokes – the ones which always make the audience laugh?

Xanthias proceeds to go through a well-worn routine of old jokes, which he says all the other comedians have been using for ages – but he himself is performing this routine at the same time as distancing himself from it. These tired old jokes – the stock figure of the comic porter, the hackneyed complaints, the physical comedy revolving around the heavy baggage, the familiar gags about farts and shit – are funny precisely because they are so old. There is an ostensible element of rivalry: Aristophanes 92

3. Novelty says that Lysis, Ameipsias and others all use these terrible jokes, but the difference between the poets – so he would have us believe – is that Aristophanes tells us that these are terrible old jokes. Thus he maintains an ironic detachment from his material and also defamiliarizes it.85 None of this is likely to prompt very much astonishment, because it is so obvious. But the first twenty lines of the play have two major programmatic functions: they introduce kainotês as a major thematic preoccupation, and they also make it clear (as if it had not been clear to begin with) that the whole idea of kainotês has to be treated with heavy irony. What is astonishing is that the entire plot and substance of Frogs can be seen, on further investigation, as constituting a palimpsest – a collage of literally dozens of hypotexts. It is not just the opening scene of Frogs that is programmatic. At several key moments in the play, Aristophanes alerts us to the fact that he is interested in old jokes as a kind of meta-discourse. For instance, old jokes turn out to be the key to understanding an odd exchange between Dionysus and Heracles early on in the play (59-67). Here Dionysus has been explaining that he has been assailed by a sudden passion: Dionysus: ... such is the passion that is ravaging me. Heracles: What sort of passion, brother dear?’ Dionysus: I can’t describe it – but I’ll explain it to you obliquely ( ). Have you ever felt a longing for pea soup ( )? Heracles: Pea soup? Urgh! ... Yes, of course – countless times in my life. Dionysus: ‘Am I making myself clear’ ... or shall I explain it in some other way? Heracles: No! No more about pea soup, anyway! I totally get it. Dionysus: Well, then: that is the sort of desire that is consuming me: a desire for ... Euripides.

This joke has always seemed rather puzzling. The obvious interpretation centres on Heracles’ famous fondness for eating and drinking. As Sommerstein puts it, ‘the best way to Heracles’ mind is assumed to be through his stomach; in comedy Heracles is regularly a glutton’.86 The joke is moderately funny on that level, but still it does not quite make sense. I think there is more to it. Dionysus says that he is going to explain his meaning ‘obliquely’ or ‘in code’ ( ).87 What is the ainigmos to which he refers? And precisely how is Heracles’ penchant for pea soup comparable to Dionysus’ longing for Euripides? It isn’t quite enough to say that Dionysus is simply very eager to see Euripides, just as Heracles is very eager to eat pea soup: that would not be an ainigmos but a straightforward comparison or simile. It seems likely that the ainigmos is contained in the word (‘pea soup’) – which, one notes, appears three times in this short exchange. ‘Pea soup’ seems to have a special, hidden meaning. It is also significant that when ‘pea soup’ is mentioned Heracles says ‘Urgh!’ ( ) – a word which tends to denote violent aversion or dismay.88 He goes on to say that he has had pea soup ‘countless times’ 93

The Comedian as Critic ( ), which seems to evoke a sense of repetition and boredom – not so much ‘Mmm, lovely: pea soup!’ as ‘Urgh: not pea soup again!’ This sense is reinforced further by line 65 (‘No! no more about pea soup!’). The explanation of this ainigmos, I suggest, depends on a recurrent metaphor used by Aristophanes and others (which we shall discuss at more length in Chapter 4 below): the idea that comic drama is ‘food’ and that the playwright is a ‘chef’.89 Dionysus is not talking about Heracles’ eating habits, but rather making a metaliterary in-joke. In fact ‘pea soup’ seems to be a specific metaphor for the sort of boring old jokes that one has heard a thousand times before. This is shown by a fragment of an unknown comedy by Callias (fr. 26, quoted by Athenaeus, epit. 2.57a): Callias, in the course of a discussion about comedy that is past its best ( ), talks of ‘pea soup, a fire, turnips, radishes, figs, flat-cakes ...’.

Pea soup, turnips, radishes and so on are all examples of plain, cheap, everyday foods rather than (as usually encountered in the boasts of comedians-as chefs) luxury items belonging to elite culture. We might compare Knights 537-9, where Aristophanes seems to be criticizing Crates for ‘feeding’ his audience with cheap food, in implied contrast to Aristophanes’ haute cuisine. It cannot be known whether Aristophanes in Frogs 59-67 is making a specific allusion to Callias, or whether the metaphor of boring ‘pea soup’ was in widespread use, but it is interesting to recall that Callias wrote a play called Frogs – did fragment 26, perhaps, belong to that play? One can do little more than toy with this tantalizing possibility – but if it is true, it would make Aristophanes’ joke even more deliciously pointed. One also notes that Callias (floruit c. 446-430) was already making jokes about ‘comedy that is past its best’, several decades before Aristophanes got there. The metaphorical use of ‘soup’ (in a slightly different but closely comparable sense) would also have been familiar to Aristophanes’ audience because of the work and reputation of another poet – Hegemon, who was himself known by the nickname ‘Lentil Soup’ ( ).90 Hegemon, whom Aristotle describes as the inventor of parody (Poetics 1448a12), composed comedies and other types of pastiche or parodic verse. It seems that his nickname is meant to suggest that his works are literary concoctions, boiled up (as it were) from the verses of other poets. Lentil soup, like pea soup, represents the cheapest, plainest sort of fare; but one cannot help reflecting, in addition, that both these foodstuffs are noted for their flatulence-inducing properties. Dionysus’ hunger for ‘pea soup’, then, is to be read as a coded signal that Frogs is going to be full of old jokes. This also explains why the god likens his hunger to ‘pea soup’ to his yearning for ... Euripides. (The deliberate postponement of the name shows that it is definitely the ‘punchline’.) Aristophanes’ audience would no doubt have groaned as they recognized another self-referential in-joke. (What? – not Euripides 94

3. Novelty again?) By 405 BC, when Frogs was premièred, Euripides had been the favourite subject of Aristophanic jokes for at least twenty years. As we have already seen, Euripidean tragedy had long been a ‘signature theme’, to which Aristophanes playfully draws our attention time after time: he wants us to see it as a sort of obsession.91 As early as 425, in Acharnians, his characters were made to announce: ‘Right! Time to move on to Euripides!’ (387-9) – as if the audience would already have been conditioned to expect this. In Wasps (60-1), a few years later, Aristophanes had made a tongue-in-cheek promise not to show his audience ‘Euripides being mocked again’ – but Wasps turned out to be full of jokes about Euripides (as did Proagon, Aristophanes’ other play of the same year, which featured Euripides as a character). We might also recall, in the light of Frogs, Aristophanes’ promise in Peace (741-3) not to bore us with any more jokes about Heracles and his hunger – not to mention the complaint of one of Cratinus’ characters: ‘Life isn’t worth living any more, what with Heracles always being hungry and these same jokes always being made ...’ (fr. 346)!92 It is obvious that all these remarks are highly ironical. Aristophanes – as ever – is having great fun with the idea of subverting his own claims, and with the audacity of recycling the same jokes and subject-matter time and time again. For Aristophanes to reveal that he is giving us yet another Euripidean comedy, just a few lines after poking fun at his rivals for their lack of novelty, is highly provocative. But old jokes about Euripides are only the tip of the iceberg. It quickly becomes clear that Frogs contains an enormous number of old jokes. In fact, this comedy is designed to turn the whole notion of kainotês on its head, because in every respect it is deliberately, completely, outrageously unoriginal. The whole plot is recycled from a number of recent comedies on a similar theme. The most significant of these was Aristophanes’ own Gerytades, which was produced just a couple of years earlier (thus there would have been little chance of the audience’s failing to recall it). This play was a metaliterary comedy in which an embassy went down to the Underworld to resuscitate dead poets, including tragedians (yet again) – in other words, an almost exact replica of the plot of Frogs.93 Another comparatively recent comedy, Eupolis’ Demes (412 BC), seems to have used exactly the same central conceit: Eupolis’ plot hinged on saving the city by reviving dead politicians rather than poets, but the basic idea is still the same (and we have already seen, in Chapter 1, that Frogs may contain a significant amount of intertextual play with the political ideas in Demes). There was also Pherecrates’ Small Fry, a comedy of which just enough survives to show that it was (as Norwood nicely puts it) ‘a queer extravaganza about Hades’.94 Small Fry not only featured a dramatic contest (fr. 102) but also included Aeschylus as a character (fr. 100). In the first place, then, Frogs can be seen as a blatant rehash of these three earlier comedies. Perhaps it is fanciful to suggest that the very idea of setting a play in the Underworld, among the spirits of the dead, automatically carries connotations of the antiquated and out-of-date. 95

The Comedian as Critic Whether or not that is the case, the theme of katabasis was used by several tragedians as well as comedians, and Critias’ tragedy Peirithous (which is quoted or alluded to several times in Frogs) may also have been an important hypotext. The motif of an embassy to a marginalized herofigure whose intervention might rescue the people could also be seen as a reworking of an epic or tragic theme: Aeschylus’ Myrmidons, based on the Iliadic embassy to Achilles, is quoted in Frogs remarkably often (see Appendix to this chapter). We also know of several other lost comedies which seem to have provided significant amounts of thematic material or striking images that are recycled in Frogs.95 The title Frogs was not original – it had been used for comedies by Magnes and Callias (see above) – and it may well be that Aristophanes’ frog-chorus owes something to these lost works.96 The use of a secondary chorus of mystic initiates is perhaps unexpected, but it may have something to do with the fact that Phrynichus, who competed against Frogs in 405, also used a chorus of mystic initiates (his play was called Mystai). This may be a delightful coincidence, but it may also suggest that Aristophanes went out of his way to discover the details of Phrynichus’ play-in-progress so that he might make reference to it. Then there is the motif of Dionysus qua bumbling idiot, which is inherited from Cratinus’ Dionysus as Paris, Aristomenes’ Dionysus the Athlete, and others; and the related motif of Dionysus qua incompetent sailor, which appeared in Eupolis’ Taxiarchs and Archippus’ Dionysus Shipwrecked; while the culminating literary-critical scene in Frogs, in which the competing playwrights’ lines are (literally) weighed in the balance, is a ludicrous parody of the weighing of men’s fates that gave Aeschylus’ Psychostasia its title. Far from eschewing old material, Aristophanes is prolifically recycling his own and other poets’ material – not only on a large scale (in the conception of the entire plot) but also on a small scale (in individual scenes, lines and jokes) – and that is precisely why it is so funny. Frogs is nothing but a long series of old jokes; it is an exuberantly, riotously palimpsestic text, made up of literally dozens of quotations, allusions, and old jokes of one sort or another. (A full list of these references is supplied in the Appendix at the end of this chapter.) Many of these jokes and allusions will have been unmissable; but the obscurity of some of them, along with the sheer number and variety of literary quotations embedded in the text, may well make us think (as so often before) that the full effect of the play’s humour is aimed at a target audience of literati. As the play progresses, Aristophanes keeps reminding us, lest we forget, of his own studied lack of originality. A further pointed reference to ‘pea soup’ is made in the course of a conversation between ‘Heracles’ (actually the slave Xanthias in disguise) and the staff of the inn where he ends up staying (Frogs 503-604). As ever, ‘Heracles’ is hungry – a clichéd scenario if ever there was one (the fact that the innkeeper mentions ‘an earlier incident’ when Heracles ate all their stock may be felt to labour the point somewhat). We are told that when Persephone learnt of 96

3. Novelty Heracles’ arrival, she immediately started ‘boiling up pea soup – two or three pots full of the stuff’ (505-6)! The mention of ‘pea soup’ would have amused those in the audience who got the point of the earlier scene, and the added detail of the enormous quantity of pea soup on offer drives the point home. ‘Heracles’, despite his hunger, answers: ‘No, thank you!’ (508) – and thus ‘pea soup’/clichéd material is yet again rejected and enacted simultaneously. A similarly self-conscious, self-contradictory gesture towards palaiotês is made elsewhere, just after Xanthias has been fooling around with the luggage again (the same old slapstick humour that was ostensibly rejected in the opening lines of the play). Xanthias drops the luggage, and when he is ordered to pick it up, he replies (438-9): ‘This whole business is all just “Corinthos son of Zeus”’. As the scholiast on this passage points out, the expression was a proverb denoting the same old thing over again.97 So (although there is also another level to the joke98) it seems clear that another reference is being made to the derivative nature of the play’s humour. All of this comes from a poet who claims that he is always generating new ideas and never gives us the same material two or three times over (Clouds 545-6). This claim now appears to be ludicrously inaccurate – at least, where Frogs is concerned. Now it may be that Frogs was extraordinary in the scale of its hypertextual activity, but actually it seems that Aristophanes’ work on the whole is characterized by self-repetition and recycling of his own earlier material (we might compare Genette’s discussion of ‘l’autopastiche’ as a distinct variety of hypertextuality).99 Certain themes – including mockery of Cleon, parody of Euripides, the battle of the sexes, and so on – recur again and again in the surviving plays and fragments. More significantly, Aristophanes is also known to have produced several comedies with the same title – including two Wealths, two Peaces, two Aeolosicons, and two Women at the Thesmophoria – at least some of which seem to have been revisions or rehashes rather than completely new works.100 In this tendency he differs from the other comedians, who seldom (if ever) seem to have put on a play with the same title twice.101 But none of these plays is quite comparable to the second Clouds. Whereas the whole conception of Frogs seems to have been a hypertextual rehash, the whole conception of Clouds is a more or less straightforward repeat. Even in its original state, as performed in 423, this comedy was in some respects a reworking of Aristophanes’ first play Banqueters, produced only four years earlier. The fragments of Banqueters reveal a plot remarkably similar to that of Clouds. The play featured a ‘generation gap’ clash between a father and his sons (frr. 205, 232); satire directed against the sophists and other modern intellectuals with their ‘clever’ ideas (frr. 205, 206, 227, 233); a concern with the etymology and meaning of words (frr. 205, 233); some sort of critique of the old-fashioned lyric poetry of Alcaeus and Anacreon (fr. 235); and a contrast between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles of education (frr. 206, 225). This conflict of ‘old’ versus ‘new’ was clearly at the thematic heart of 97

The Comedian as Critic Banqueters just as it is in Clouds (and many other texts of the period). It was embodied in the play’s main characters, the Well-Behaved Boy and the Pathic Boy – a pairing which unmistakably recalls the Better and Worse Arguments in Clouds. Indeed, Aristophanes even reminds his audience of the close similarity between Clouds and Banqueters (not that there is much chance that they will have forgotten), when he talks about ‘the time when, in this very theatre, my Well-Behaved Boy and my Pathic Boy won such a favourable reception ...’ (Clouds 528-9).102 This reminder is prominently inserted right at the beginning of the parabasis, just a few lines before Aristophanes ironically flatters his ‘clever’ spectators (535) and talks up the supposed ‘novelty’ of the repeat performance that they are now watching. This is an audacious strategy. It is not really possible to identify how much of the surviving Clouds is new, or how much has been taken from either Banqueters or the original Clouds. Much ink has already been spilt over such unanswerable questions, and I shall not attempt to find solutions where others have failed.103 The main point to be made here is that Clouds makes scarcely any pretence to be doing something new. Rather, it self-consciously trumpets itself as a ‘repeat’, more than any other play. Aristophanes, at the very point where he seems to be presenting us with his poetic manifesto, is literally giving us ‘the same old material two or three times over’ – the very thing that he assures us he is not doing. Thus his supposed claims of novelty, more than ever, come across as nonsensical, because he is making it as obvious as it could possibly be that he embodies the precise opposite of novelty. What other comedian would present his audience with a ‘completely new’ play that had in its entirety been staged before? This question may cause us to wonder whether Aristophanes ever intended the revised Clouds to be performed on stage (or, indeed, whether the archon in charge of the festival would have allowed such a performance).104 The incomplete state of the revision suggests that it never actually was performed,105 but it clearly circulated widely (and has survived to the present day) in the form of a text for a reading public. An audience of readers, intellectuals and literary scholars may have been what Aristophanes had in mind all along – though if the revised play had been staged in front of the Athenian public it would no doubt have come across as a barbed attack on public taste and (in particular) the craze for novelty. The orthodox reading of Clouds is based on the assumption that Aristophanes undertook the revision in order to broaden the appeal of an esoteric and unpopular play.106 I would suggest, rather, that his aim (in so far as we can discern it at all) seems to have been to play about ironically with the concept of kainotês and to experiment with the breathtakingly bold idea of repeating, not a joke or two, but a whole play. (And did I forget to mention the ancient commentator who points out that the whole plot of Clouds is stolen from Cratinus’ All-Seeing Ones?107) * 98

3. Novelty To conclude: the status of novelty in the poetics of old comedy is not all that it might seem. These numerous comic references to kainotês are difficult to pin down to a single meaning or overall interpretation. No doubt the individual comedians, even if they could be brought back to life and pressed into divulging their opinions plainly and literally, would reveal a range of different perspectives. It seems clear (to me, at least) that the image of novelty that emerges from Aristophanic comedy is particularly challenging. Aristophanes affects to be claiming novelty for himself precisely because audiences like it, while at the same time ironically subverting it and implying that better criteria could be found for judging literary excellence. It is impossible to say whether Aristophanes was unique in this sort of attitude, but the range of fragmentary material we have seen may suggest that (at least) some of his rivals were also trying to problematize or make fun of the whole notion of novelty in some way. Even if the fifth-century comedians are not seen as rejecting kainotês altogether, or as inventing new criteria for judging literature, their work clearly represents a shift in outlook when compared with the poetic ideals of the epic and lyric poets. One of the most significant features of kainotês is that, although it was clearly an effective concept in terms of persuasive rhetoric, no one ever really defines what it is. Is it a feature of form, style, or content? Is all novelty desirable for its own sake? Are all types of novelty equally admirable? The comedians, in common with other literary critics, do not help us to answer these questions. Kainotês is essentially to be seen as a rhetorical device rather than a clear criterion to be used when formulating objective literary judgements. It was clearly none the less persuasive for all that: indeed, its vagueness as a concept probably explains in part why it is such an effective and persistent concept, for it is difficult for anyone to prove or disprove. But, at any rate, it is clear that we are dealing with highly complex, sophisticated, ironic and contradictory texts. Kainotês, far from being a straightforwardly admirable quality which one might claim for one’s own work, emerges from comedy as a problematic, negotiable category within literary-critical thought. Appendix: Old jokes in Frogs This is a list of all the jokes, allusions, quotations and motifs in Frogs for which a parallel or source can be found in another text. No doubt the play contains many more allusions and quotations which we cannot detect, owing to the poor state of the evidence. It is not being claimed that every single one of these ‘old jokes’ represents a deliberate reference to a specific literary model. Perhaps, in many cases, we are looking at adaptations of topoi:108 several distinct models may be evoked indirectly by the use or adaptation of a topos or running joke. What the list below shows is that Frogs embodies a large and heterogeneous collection of quotations, jokes and motifs that had been used before (and, in many cases, would be used 99

The Comedian as Critic again) either by Aristophanes or someone else: this material would have given rise to the humour of recognition on the part of the audience. 5 3-14 62-7 72 93 100-5 139 151 180-208 184 282 289 303-4 357 366 367 371 415-30 437 438-9 474 470-8 479 501

‘How I am afflicted!’: Ar. fr. 340. Baggage-handling jokes reworked from Phrynichus, Lycis and Ameipsias Heracles as glutton: Frogs 549-60, Birds 1583-1604, 1689-92, Wasps 60; Cratinus fr. 346; Alexis fr. 140 (cf. 549-604 below). Pea soup: Callias fr. 26 [see discussion above]; Quotation from Eur. Hypsipyle fr. 763. Quotation from Eur. Oeneus fr. 565. Quotation from Eur. Alcmene fr. 88. Quotations (sometimes adapted) from Eur. Wise Melanippe fr. 487; Alexandros fr. 42 = Bacch. 889; Hipp. 612; Andromeda fr. 144. How to get to the Underworld: Eupolis, Demes, Ar. Gerytades, Critias Peirithous etc. Mocking Morsimus (Knights 401, Peace 803) and Cinesias (Clouds 333-9, Peace 827-31, Birds 1372-1409, Eccl. 330, fr. 156; Pherecrates fr. 155; Strattis fr. 18; Platon fr. 200. Boat on stage: Cratinus, Odysses frr. 143, 151; Eupolis, Taxiarchs. Dionysus as seafarer: Homeric Hymn 7; Eur. Cycl. 11-12; Hermippus fr. 63, etc. Hello, Charon: Achaeus, Aithon fr. 1. Quotation adapted from Eur. Philoctetes fr. 788.1. Empusa: Assemblywomen 1056-7; Fry-Cooks fr. 515 Hegelochus mispronouncing Eur. Or. 279: Sannyrion fr. 8; Strattis frr. 1, 63. Quotation from Sophocles, Tyro fr. 668. Cinesias’ shit: Assemblywomen 329-30 (and cf. 151 above). Politicians nibble away at poets’ fees: Platon fr. 141, Sannyrion fr. 9. All-night revel: reference to Pherecrates, All-Night Revel (Pannychis) ? Ritual abuse is based (in content and metre/music) on Eupolis, Demes fr. 99. Xanthias picks up the luggage again (cf. 3-14). Corinthos son of Zeus: cf. Eccl. 828, Pl. Euthyd. 292e [see above]. Aeacus accosts Heracles: Critias, Peirithous (?). Paratragic tirade based on Eur. Theseus (?) [doubted by Rau (1967) 115-18]. Dionysus shits himself: cf. 1-20 (again). Callias of Melite: Birds 286; Cratinus frr. 12, 81; 100

3. Novelty Eupolis, Flatterers fr. 156. 503 Pea soup (again): cf. 62-7. 549-604 Hungry Heracles: Peace 740-3; Dionysus in disguise: Cratinus, Dionysalexandros. 569 Cleon: Knights (passim), Ach. 377-82, 502-3, 630-1, Wasps 1284-91, etc. 570 Hyperbolus: Knights 1303-15, 1363; Ach. 846-7, Peace 680-92; Eupolis, Maricas; Platon, Hyperbolus, etc. 607-9 Scythian policemen: Thesm. 929-1226, Lys. 433-62, Ach. 54. 653 Cries of iou iou: Clouds 537-44. 659-67 Quotations from Hipponax fr. 661 (or Ananios? – so ); Soph. Laocoon fr. 371. 676-7 Conventional flattery of audience: Ach. 1013-14, Knights 233, Clouds 521, 575, etc. (see also 1108-18 below). 678 Cleophon: Thesm. 805; Platon, Cleophon. 706 Quotation from Ion, Phoenix (or Caeneus) fr. 1. 708-11 Tradesman jokes: cf. Knights etc. (see 840 and 858 below). 840 Euripides’ mum the greengrocer: Ach. 478, Thesm. 387, 456, Knights 19 (see also 947 below); quotation from Euripides fr. 885. 841 Euripides’ beggars and cripples: Ach. 410-79, Peace 146- 8 (cf. 1063 below). 855-67 Euripides’ Telephus: Ach. 303-593, Thesm. 466-519, 689-759 etc. [see Rau (1967) 217]. 858 Poets squabbling like breadsellers: Hermippus’ Breadsellers (about Hyperbolus’ mum; cf. 570, 840). 889 Euripides’ unconventional theology: Thesm. 451. 910-20 References to Phrynichus (old tragedy = ‘stupid’); Aeschylus, Niobe, Myrmidons, Phrygians. 929 Aesch. Myrmidons fr. 422. 931 Reference to Euripides, Hippolytus 375-6. 932 Aesch. Myrmidons fr. 134. 944 Euripides’ ‘friend’ Cephisophon: fr. 596 (see also 1408, 1452-3 below); cf. Vita Eur. and . 947 Euripides’ mum again: see 840. 992 Aesch. Myrmidons fr. 131. 1004 Aeschylus’ claims to have built up tragedy: Pherecrates fr. 100. 1021 Aesch. Seven Against Thebes is ‘full of war’: Gorgias B24 DK. 1026-9 Aesch. Persians 1034 References to Hesiod, WD; Musaeus; Homer. 1041 Aesch. Myrmidons frr. 135, 138; Women of Salamis (?). 1043-51 Eur. Stheneboea; Hippolytus; Bellerophon. 1063 Euripides’ rags again: cf. 841 above. 101

The Comedian as Critic 1070 Empty wrestling-schools: Clouds 987-9, 1002-19, 1052-4; Eupolis, Autolycus. 1079 Euripidean women: Hippolytus; Auge fr. 266; incest: Aeolus (cf. Clouds 1353-76); wordplay (Eur. Phrixus); cf. Thesm. (passim). 1099 Eur. Phaethon 99-100 Diggle. 1108-18 Flattery of audience: see 676-7 above. 1119-1244 Prologues: Aesch. Cho.; Eur. Antigone fr. 157 (cf. Pho. 1595-1614); Eur. fr. 846; Hypsipyle fr. 752; Stheneboea fr. 661; Phrixus fr. 819; IT 1-2; Meleager fr. 516; Wise Melanippe fr. 481.1. 1261-1300 Aeschylean lyrics: Myrmidons fr. 132; Psychagogoi fr. 273; fr. 238; Priestesses fr. 87; Ag. 108-11; Sphinx fr. 236; frr. 282, 84. 1305-6 Eur. Hypsipyle fr. 769. 1309-63 Euripidean lyrics: Eur. fr. 856; Hypsipyle frs 1, 7, 755, 765 etc.; references to Orestes 1368-1502; Meleager fr. 523; Electra 435-6; Cretan Women fr. 471. 1327 Pun: Cratinus fr. 276. 1364-1413 Weighing: Aesch. Psychostasia. 1382-92 Eur. Med. 1; Aesch. Philoctetes fr. 249; Eur. Antigone fr. 170; Aesch. Niobe fr. 161. 1396 Lightness of Persuasion: Gorgias B8 DK. 1400 Aesch. Myrmidons or Euripides [source of quotation obscure]. 1402-3 Eur., Meleager fr. 531; Aesch. Glaucus of Potniae fr. 38. 1414-99 Poets arguing: Contest of Homer and Hesiod (cf. numerous other poetic agônes). 1422 Alcibiades: Ach. 716; Wasps 44-6; frr. 205, 244; Eupolis, Baptai fr. 171; Pherecrates fr. 164, etc. 1425 Ion, Guards fr. 44. 1437 Cinesias (again): see 151, 366 above. Soaring in the air: Birds 1372-1409. Cleocritus: Birds 876. 1451 Palamedes: Thesm. 769-84; Eupolis fr. 385. 1453 Cephisophon (again): see 944 above. 1442-50 We need new leaders: Eupolis, Demes (etc.). 1466 Rapacity of jurymen: Ar. Wasps. 1468 Euripidean/tragic quotation [source unknown: see Rau (1967) 122]. 1471 Eur. Hipp. 612 (parodied also at Frogs 101-2 above). 1475 Eur. Aeolus fr. 19 (see also 850, 1081 above). 1477 Eur. Polyidus fr. 638; fr. 1082 (see also 1079 above). 1491-2 Socrates: Ar. Clouds; Callias fr. 15; Telecleides fr. 41; Ameipsias, Connus; Platon, Sophists, etc. 1528-33 Aesch. Eum. 1012-13; Glaucus of Potniae fr. 36.



The metaphorical language of criticism Our attention has so far been concentrated mainly on the criteria that emerge from comedy for making literary judgements. However, the precise language in which those judgements are expressed can also tell us a lot about the critical outlook of the comedians, and about the way they are encouraging their audiences and readers to think. Literary criticism requires the use of a particular vocabulary: this is true whether we are thinking of the activity of the so-called professional critic, the rhetorical theorist, the grammarian, the self-reflexive poet, the comedian or ‘the man in the street’ (that frequently evoked but rather elusive individual). The language of criticism does not have to be a category of technical terminology or jargon, separate from everyday language; it may often constitute ordinary words used in a special, marked sense. Sometimes the comedians’ critical vocabulary is straightforwardly literal, or ostensibly so: in the chapters above we have observed writers or their work being described as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘novel’ or ‘old-fashioned’, ‘clever’ or ‘vulgar’. Evaluative judgements of this sort are relatively uncomplicated (although, as we have seen, even such apparently simple language can present certain interpretative problems). Nevertheless, metaphorical language is also widely seen in comic criticism: literature is often described or evaluated using terms or images taken from other fields of activity. This type of language is naturally much more difficult to interpret. When Aristophanes, for example, describes Euripides’ art as being ‘like tangled fleece’ ( , fr. 682) or ‘well-rounded’ ( , Women Claiming Tent-Sites fr. 488), what does he mean? One can go some way, perhaps, toward answering this question. It is obvious that both these terms combine elements of description (in that they draw attention to specific features of Euripidean tragedy) and aesthetic evaluation (in that they tell us whether the effect of these features is pleasing or displeasing): the first term implies disapprobation, the second (probably) approbation. But much is left unspoken. Even if it were absolutely clear – which it is not – whether Aristophanes is referring to the subject-matter of Euripides’ plays or to some aspect of his style, it would be hard to see precisely why these particular images were chosen (since neither style nor content can literally be described as rounded or fleecy). It is left up to the individual interpreter to make links and associations in his own mind between the disparate verbal, visual and tactile phenomena – shapes, textures, animals, weaving and dramatic poetry – that are evoked by these adjectives. The precise nature of these cognitive associations will no doubt differ from individual to individual.1 103

The Comedian as Critic The use of metaphorical language, by comedians or other critics, nearly always contains a built-in ambiguity, rather as poetic imagery in general is ambiguous.2 Terms such as and could be treated as a species of poetic epithet.3 After all, the comedians – whatever else they may be – are primarily poets. And yet any critic, even one who writes in prose, may find ‘poetical’ language to be a powerful means of articulating his views. As Harold Bloom has said, ‘I behold no differences, in kind or in degree, between the language of poetry and the language of criticism’.4 Bloom’s argument, baldly summarized, is that all literary criticism (of whatever period you care to mention) is essentially an act of artistic self-expression. For all that the critic may claim to be dealing in objective truth or sober, scientific analysis, he is really a poet or provocateur, concerned primarily with subjective argumentation, rhetoric and the provision of entertainment. According to Bloom (even if we might want to modify his radical position to some extent), our comedians seem closer than ever to the status of literary critics ‘proper’. Pleasingly picturesque images may be calculated to appeal to a poetryloving audience more than boringly literal language. But metaphors are useful for the critic above all because of their ambiguity – that is, because they allow him to express views in a way that is both rhetorically powerful and (more importantly) impossible to pin down to a precise meaning. As I have been arguing throughout this book, ambiguity, along with irony, is at the heart of comedy and of comic literary criticism, because the comedians seem to have been aiming to resist definitive interpretation of their work.5 One might compare Aristotle’s treatment of metaphors in his Rhetoric (3.3.4, 1406b): not only does he cite the comic poet as a particular example of the type of writer who characteristically uses metaphors to excess, but he also sees the function of metaphors as precisely that of obscuring clarity of meaning. Metaphorical language is an important feature of comedy in general, but it is also an important tool in the self-assertion of the critic, for it effectively prevents anyone else from assailing the critic’s assumed position of authority. This fact goes a long way towards explaining why metaphors are so frequently found in association with pejorative criticism and literary polemic in particular. They allow the critic to deliver negative judgements without having to justify them very scrupulously, and they make it hard for anyone to respond or disagree. If I criticize my rival’s work, he might well find a way to defend it on some basis or other, but it would be impossible for him to prove that his work was not ‘tangled’, ‘bitter’, ‘rough’ or similar. Recent work in theoretical linguistics has tended to distinguish between two views of metaphor, the ‘non-constructivist’ and the ‘constructivist’.6 The more traditional, ‘non-constructivist’ approach sees metaphor as a primarily decorative linguistic phenomenon, whereby one word is replaced by another word of different meaning (as in, for example, Aristotle’s definition of metaphor at Poetics 1457b7);7 a clear distinction is thus established between ‘normal’ and ‘metaphorical’ usage.8 By contrast, the ‘constructivist’ approach sees metaphor as a conceptual phenomenon 104

4. The metaphorical language of criticism rather than a rhetorical device. This approach was popularized by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their influential book Metaphors We Live By,9 which showed that metaphors are central to the way we perceive the world and express ourselves: use of metaphors is not always conscious or calculated, and the distinction between ‘normal’ and ‘metaphorical’ language is not always possible to maintain.10 Constructivists examine the way in which meaning is constructed through language rather than directly perceived. The selection and use of metaphors can be deliberate, but just as often we often use metaphors unconsciously: it is almost impossible for us to express ourselves without recourse to metaphors of one sort or another.11 This is a particular feature (or problem) of the English language, which more than any other is marked by idiomatic and non-literal phrases, but the phenomenon is by no means confined to modern English usage. A constructivist perspective is useful for understanding the operation of literary metaphors in comedy. This is partly because (as we shall see) we are dealing with a series of conceptual metaphors, which may take a variety of different verbal expressions. For example, the phrases ‘skilfully wrought’, ‘built up’, ‘angular’ and ‘joined with rivets’, all of which are used by the comedians to describe poetry (see §4.3 below), are linguistic variations on the same underlying conceptual metaphor (the idea that poetry is constructed like a building). The constructivist approach also helps us to appreciate the fact that language both reflects and shapes the way that people think. The effect of metaphors is to influence the way that people perceive and discuss fundamental issues (such as literary criticism): this is true whether or not we believe that the comedians deliberately used metaphors for this purpose, or whether or not they invented the specific metaphors that they employ. The comedians were not the first to employ metaphors when talking about poetry. The earliest literary critics of all – the self-conscious lyric poets – used a wide range of metaphors and images to describe poetic activity. (This language has been meticulously analysed by René Nünlist in his invaluable book Poetologische Bildersprache in der frühgriechischen Dichtung.12) Poets had long been compared to birds, bees, sportsmen or oracles; their work was compared to statuary, architecture, flowers or precious metal; poems were likened to roads, or said to fly through the air like arrows – to select just a few examples from a large and heterogeneous assortment of images. Such metaphors can be viewed purely in aesthetic terms, as pleasingly decorative images, or they can be analysed in terms of their social significance, for what they reveal about the archaic poets and their communities.13 However, the comedians reflect an interesting development. Whereas the early poets’ use of metaphors is descriptive, the comedians used metaphors in a predominantly evaluative sense. This marks a significant shift in the language of criticism. Previously, evaluative terminology had been literal: criteria such as truth, accuracy, usefulness, pleasure and novelty were used to judge the success or failure of poetry. Such literal 105

The Comedian as Critic criteria, as we have seen, continued to be used; but alongside them also appeared metaphorical criteria such as ‘coldness’, ‘airiness’, ‘slenderness’ and so on. It is unlikely that the comedians themselves were responsible for this development, nor do they seem to have invented many of the metaphors that they use to evaluate poetry.14 Most of the specific words and concepts in comedy, as we shall see, can be traced back to earlier poetry, which shows that they were already current (and, it can be assumed, fairly familiar in the normal usage of most Athenians). In general, the way in which they are used in comedy suggests that they are not being introduced for the first time, but rather being parodied or played around with in some way. Of course, one would not wish to underestimate the importance of the comedians as critics. Whether or not we choose to see them as original thinkers, they will undoubtedly have played an important role in disseminating and popularizing critical ideas. As I have already argued, their deployment of metaphors in an explicitly competitive context is very significant indeed; their treatment of individual images and words is often interesting or suggestive; and in one area in particular – the use of food and taste-related imagery – they do seem to have made an original contribution to the language of criticism (see §4.7 below). But often they are exploiting other people’s use of metaphors for the sake of a joke. Often the jokes seem to rely on the identification of a familiar usage as a cliché.15 But it has also been suggested that the comedians are sometimes to be seen as satirizing specialized technical terminology of a sort that the majority of audience members would have regarded as obscure or pretentious. This was the view of Pohlenz, who believed that Aristophanes was parodically reworking terminology and theories from sophistic discourses by Gorgias and others (and that the plays could, with caution, be used to reconstruct the ‘serious’ versions of those theories).16 A similar view was taken by Denniston, who (in an influential and often-cited article) interpreted much of the content of Aristophanes’ Frogs as ‘technical jargon, barely understood by the man in the street’.17 Nevertheless, several scholars have more recently questioned the extent to which a ‘professional’ or ‘technical’ vocabulary of literary criticism existed at this date, preferring to think in terms of a widespread popular critical discourse.18 After all, as Kenneth Dover has pointed out, ‘tragedy was part of the ordinary citizen’s experience, and we cannot imagine that when people went home from the theatre they communicated their opinions to one another only in inarticulate grunts of approval and disapproval’.19 Quite so – though he is right to add that there will have been a wide spectrum of responses among the ‘ordinary citizens’ of the audience, at varying levels of sophistication. But the main problem with Pohlenz’s theory (as with much of what is written about Greek literature) lies in a certain methodological circularity. That is, he is obliged, because of the shortage of external evidence, to use comedy as a source of ‘factual’ information at the same time as he is interpreting it as an idiosyncratic 106

4. The metaphorical language of criticism treatment or distortion of those ‘facts’. Furthermore, there is no other evidence for these supposed sophistic treatises, for all that Gorgias and the others are known to have been interested in literary and linguistic matters.20 The question of the comedians’ sources (or targets) is basically insoluble, since we have no real way of knowing very much about the intellectual discourse or the everyday popular speech of fifth-century Athenians. But we do not really need to identify any specific ‘target’ to the humour in order to appreciate the comedians’ use of metaphor. In many cases it seems that the comedians are drawing attention to the metaphorical slipperiness of language itself (this is where the ‘constructivist’ approach to metaphor comes in useful again). Another point worth making in this respect is that even if a comedian’s use of a particular word may strike us as unusual, it can often be seen as an expression of a familiar metaphorical concept. For example, when Aristophanes uses the adjective ‘potent’ ( , Frogs 98) to describe a poet, Denniston identifies this as an example of technical jargon: ‘the word is palpably unfamiliar to the audience’.21 This is not demonstrably true; but even if Denniston were correct, it seems clear that Aristophanes’ audience would have been perfectly familiar with the underlying conceptual metaphor of artistic creation as a process of generation or birth, which is quite widely attested in other poetry (see §4.5 below). Whether these metaphors were the province of a relatively small group of intellectuals and sophists, or whether they were in more widespread use, the most important thing to note about them is their inherently elusive, ambiguous quality. The comedians recurrently exploit this quality, either to make fun of it or in order to articulate their own combative critical stance. Of course, there is a certain tension between these two purposes, for the poets are lampooning the very techniques that they themselves use. But we will only be troubled by this tension if we expect our comedians to be consistent or coherent. Each of the following sections examines a particular conceptual category of metaphor. The comedians draw their images from several different areas of human experience and the natural or manufactured environment, including (principally but not exclusively): temperature; air, atmosphere and weather; craft and construction; bodily functions; character and style; wine; and food. It will very soon emerge that my division into these seven categories, made for convenience and clarity of presentation, is somewhat arbitrary. There are numerous connections and points of overlap between the various categories: it is important to stress that the comedians’ use of these metaphors is completely unsystematic and in no way represents a ‘theory’. A few overall patterns emerge, most notably a recurrent (but not exclusive) connection of metaphors with aesthetic criteria and literary style. This tendency reflects the way in which Aristophanes and others can seem to be leaning towards a more specialized, ‘literary’ approach to poetry, based on form rather than content. It also prefigures, in some sense, the widespread use of metaphors in later rhetorical criticism as 107

The Comedian as Critic labels for different styles (ideai) – the ‘grand’ style, the ‘elegant’ style, the ‘forceful’ style, the ‘slender’ style and so on.22 But the overall impression that emerges from comedy is of an unsystematic, unregulated system of metaphorical language which is confusingly vague or contradictory (and often, I suggest, deliberately so). We always have to keep in mind the fact that the comedians, whatever their precise aims, are not out to explain these ideas for our benefit. 4.1. Temperature One of the comparatively few evaluative metaphors to be used adjectivally is the epithet psychros, which literally means ‘cold’. It is usually translated into English as ‘frigid’, though this gives the slightly misleading impression that it was a quasi-technical term (since ‘frigid’ in English, unlike psychros in Greek, is not a multi-purpose adjective in normal usage). However that may be, it is not immediately obvious what the idea of temperature might mean when applied to literature, and indeed ‘coldness’ is difficult to define in terms of any specific quality that may be observed in the words of a text. It may be thought that the concept is used by the comedians to denote a certain type of linguistic style: this is suggested by later critics’ use of the terms psychros and psychrotês. The ‘cold’ style has a place in several rhetorical theories (including works by Aristotle, Theophrastus, Demetrius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and others).23 The quality of ‘coldness’ is defined by Demetrius (On Style 114), following Aristotle and Theophrastus, as excessive or hyperbolic use of language ‘which transcends the expression appropriate to the thought’. It is recommended that one should avoid using orotund language for trivial subject-matter – as in the case of the Sophoclean character who said ‘an unbased chalice is not entabled’ ( , Triptolemus fr. 611) when he really meant ‘a cup without a bottom is not put on the table’. Demetrius expands on the concept at some length, elaborating on Aristotle’s view that ‘coldness’ arises from outlandish vocabulary, ill-judged epithets, extravagantly formed composite adjectives, and strained metaphors.24 It is clear that ‘coldness’ has a well-developed afterlife in classical rhetorical theory. But we can not assume that it already had this precise scope of meaning in fifth-century usage. In comedy, at any rate, psychros seems to be a general term applied to ‘bad’ poets or their works.25 Often it seems to have a distinct overtone of ‘boring’ subject-matter, which is something rather different from extravagant diction. When Aristophanes writes that Euripides was ashamed of his play Palamedes because of its ‘coldness’ (Women at the Thesmophoria 848), he implies that this work was both tedious and unsuccessful in the dramatic competition (since – it is said – Euripides cannot bear to show his face in public); but he can scarcely mean that every line in the play was marred by stylistic excess. In order for an entire play to be described as ‘cold’, we have to assume that (in comic usage, at least) the epithet was an all-purpose pejorative expression. 108

4. The metaphorical language of criticism The following exchange from Eupolis’ Prospaltians (fr. 261) confirms that ‘coldness’ could be used without any particular stylistic associations: A. Did you hear that? B. Yes, by Heracles! That joke of yours is coarse, Megarian, and completely cold. Only the youngsters are laughing ...

Unfortunately, the joke in question is not included in the fragment, so we are not in a position to see just what was so ‘cold’ about it. However, it seems that the other terms here, ‘coarse’ ( ) and ‘Megarian’, are to be treated as virtually synonymous. Both these words are used elsewhere to denote the type of humour that is stigmatized by fifthcentury sophisticates as being old-fashioned and crude – the sort of stuff that may appeal to low-brows or children but will not satisfy discerning audience-members. Aristophanes takes pains to distance his own comedy from the ‘Megarian’ efforts of his rivals (Wasps 57), but already, perhaps several decades earlier, a character in one of Ecphantides’ comedies (fr. 2) was describing ‘Megarian’ drama as ‘embarrassing’. The underlying contrast here (as so often elsewhere) between mass and elite values should not be ignored, but it is also interesting to observe that what seems to be a culturally specific adjective (Megarian) is made to serve a much broader general purpose. It is easy to see why Megarian comedy might have acquired connotations of extreme antiquity, since the Megarians supposedly invented the genre,26 but much harder to see what was so terrible or crude about it. Nevertheless, it seems that the epithet is being used in a metaphorical rather than a literal or descriptive sense. That is, all ‘Megarian’ comedy (the inverted commas are crucial) is simply treated as synonymous with bad comedy: the word is only ever used in a pejorative sense. Thus ‘Megarian’ and ‘cold’ can be seen as closely comparable terms: they are rhetorically effective but have little or no literal meaning. It seems that, in the context of old comedy, ‘coldness’ comes to denote jokes that just aren’t funny (it is apparently used in this sense several times in later Greek comedy).27 This is an attractive idea because it is impossible to decide what is or is not ‘funny’ according to any objective set of criteria, which means that the term has a potentially universal appeal and applicability. Every single person in the audience could have understood the word in a different sense, depending on their own individual sense of humour. The metaphor is all the more useful precisely because it is so difficult to pin down. It is clear, at least, that the word psychros, far from being a ‘technical’ term, was in widespread general use. Sometimes the concept of ‘coldness’ can be implicitly evoked without even using the epithet psychros itself – as when Peisetairos in Aristophanes’ Birds (934-5) gives a warm cloak to a poet, saying: ‘Take this – you definitely seem to me to be freezing’.28 Similarly, when a character in Aristophanes’ Acharnians is describing a trip to Thrace that he made one winter, Dikaiopolis interjects: ‘Was 109

The Comedian as Critic it at about the same time when Theognis put on a show there?’ (Ach. 136-40). This irrelevant, throwaway line is funny only if we assume that Theognis was already generally known as a writer of ‘cold’, wintry poetry. Indeed, the unfortunate Theognis does seem to have gained a particular reputation for ‘coldness’, since the epithet is used more often of him than of any other poet. Almost nothing remains of Theognis’ poetry,29 so it is impossible to judge whether or not his tragedies exhibited the sort of stylistic excesses criticized by Aristotle and others. But if the term psychros can be applied to every word he ever wrote, it is hard to see it as having any precise linguistic meaning. This view is reinforced by the fact that the epithet can be transferred without any difficulty from the poetry to the author himself – as when a character in Women at the Thesmophoria (138-40) says that Theognis, as the author of such ‘cold’ literature, must be a ‘cold’ man. This statement is made in the context of a discussion about the connection between an author’s character and his literary style (a subject to which we shall return later on, in §4.5). Now it might make more literal sense, perhaps, for a person rather than a line of poetry to be described as ‘cold’;30 but that is hardly the meaning that Aristophanes wants to get across here. The whole point of metaphorical language is that it does not make literal sense, of a sort that could ever be demonstrated or proved by empirical means. Perhaps surprisingly, given the prevalence and usefulness of the term psychros, there is no sign of any other literary metaphors based on temperature. In modern English colloquial usage we might talk about a ‘hot’ new talent or express ‘warm’ approval, but nowhere in Greek comedy (or elsewhere) do we find thermos or similar expressions being used of ‘good’ poetry. No doubt this is unsurprising in the light of comedy’s preference for negative over positive value-judgements. 4.2. Air, atmosphere and weather Imagery taken from the natural world may seem to be straightforward, artless and easily comprehensible to the reader, but (once again) it has no clear literal or descriptive meaning when applied to literature. Such imagery has the capacity for being used in a positive sense (one can readily imagine good poetry being compared to sunshine, light or the air that we breathe) but it is more often used to express negative value-judgements. Air provides one source of pejorative imagery, in Greek comedy as in modern English colloquial usage (we have all heard people being described as ‘gasbags’, ‘full of hot air,’ and so on). When a speaker’s words are compared to air, it is implied that they are excessively prolix, pretentious or lacking in clarity of meaning. This metaphor is frequently found in association with dithyrambic poetry, which is repeatedly criticized and parodied by the comedians on account of its empty verbosity and overuse of compound words.31 For example, Trygaeus in Aristophanes’ Peace, who has just returned to earth after a flight to heaven, describes his experiences thus (827-31): 110

4. The metaphorical language of criticism Slave: Apart from yourself, did you catch sight of anyone else wandering through the air? Trygaeus: No – that is, apart from two or three souls from among the dithryrambic poets. Slave: What were they doing? Trygaeus: Floating about and collecting a few mid-airy-breeze-wafting overtures ...

The ludicrous invented word ‘mid-airy-breeze-wafting’ ( ) parodies the sort of compound adjective for which dithryambic poets were mocked.32 It is not just the poetry that is seen as ‘airy’. The poets themselves are depicted as floating high above the earth in an airyfairy fashion: too insubstantial to be called men, they are mere ‘souls’ wafting about in mid-air. We might compare Aristophanes’ parody of the dithyrambist Cinesias at Birds 1375-1409. Here, as elsewhere, the dithyrambist is characterized by his pomposity and his use of unnecessarily long lists of adjectives in apposition (including compound adjectives) to describe a single object. Just as Cinesias’ poetry lacks substance, so he himself is said to be so slight in build that he is nicknamed ‘the man of linden-bark’. (The supposed physical thinness of these poets is a separate aspect of their characterization which has further significance, but we shall come back to this metaphor in §4.7 below). Cinesias: I am soaring up towards Olympus with my light wings: I am soaring now on one path of song, now on another ... Peisetairos: This undertaking is going to require a whole load of wings! Cinesias: ... with fearless mind and body in search of novelty. Peisetairos: We welcome Cinesias, the man of linden-bark. But why are you whirling your halting foot around here in a circle? Cinesias: I want to become a bird – a clear-voiced nightingale. Peisetairos: Stop singing and just tell me what you mean! Cinesias: I want to be given wings by you and then fly up in the air and from the clouds obtain some preludes which are new, snow-swept and air-whirled. Peisetairos: You mean to say that one can get preludes from the clouds? Cinesias: Well, of course! – our art depends on them. The best dithyrambs are airy, murky, dark-flashing, wing-whirled. You’ll soon realize if you listen. Peisetairos: I’d rather not (Birds 1375-91).

It has often been thought that Cinesias was himself notably fond of airborne or avian imagery in his own poetry. This is the usual explanation of the above passage, though in fact it is not necessary in order for the joke to work. It may be, of course, that Cinesias’ (now lost) poetry was ‘airy’ in both style and content, but it is just as likely that the parody depends on style alone – in other words, that ‘airiness’ is primarily a stylistic metaphor, and that compound words and pretentious content were generally thought to be ‘airy’ or ‘high-flown’, irrespective of the specific subject-matter of the poetry. It is funny for Cinesias to sing about 111

The Comedian as Critic birds and flight because – according to comic logic – that is just the sort of subject that an ‘airy’ poet would choose to sing about. But there is another level to the humour, since this passage is also a comical extension of the traditional lyric metaphor, found in Alcman, Pindar, Bacchylides and others, of the poet as a bird.33 Cinesias’ opening words above are actually a quotation from Anacreon (fr. 378), and his wish to become a nightingale may perhaps have suggested Bacchylides’ description of himself as the ‘Cean nightingale’ (3.97-8). In these passages ‘airiness’ carries distinct overtones of conceit or affectation – it is used of writers who ‘give themselves airs’ (as one might say). This sense of the metaphor is developed at some length in Aristophanes’ Clouds, which extends the scope of meaning to include pseudo-intellectual posturing as well as bad poetry. The chorus of this play is composed of clouds, who are a wittily physical embodiment of metaphorical ‘airiness’,34 and it is they who are said to provide Socrates and the other so-called intellectuals with their judgement and intelligence (such as it is). When the naïve Strepsiades first catches sight of the clouds, he does not realize what they are: Socrates: Did you not recognize or believe in them as goddesses? Strepsiades: No, by Zeus – I thought that they were mist, or dew, or smoke. Socrates: And that, by Zeus, is because you didn’t know that it is they who nourish the majority of sophists, prophets from Thurii, medical experts, onyx-signet-ring-wearing-long-haired layabouts, and song-bending composers of dithyrambic choruses – air-borne quacks, whom they nourish in their unproductive idleness, because they write poetry about them (Clouds 330-4).

Dithyrambic poets come in for a pasting once again – they are described as ‘air-borne quacks’ ( ), an epithet which underlines the link between airiness and perceived inauthenticity. But the main target this time, and throughout the play, is the high-flown – and highly suspect – ideas of the sophists and their pupils. Gorgias, Protagoras and others were often criticized for being trivial and lacking in substance, not just by Aristophanes but widely elsewhere (including, of course, the Platonic dialogues). In a further extension of the aerial imagery, the ‘Socrates’ character in Clouds is literally made to soar around in mid-air above the stage, by means of the flying-machine (mêchanê). As he expounds his crazy, garbled ideas about modern science and technology, he is made to say that he is ‘walking on air’ ( , 225). Thus the staging of the play is used to give an extra level of physicality to this conceptual metaphor. In addition, Aristophanes has made his ‘Socrates’ into a cosmologist, for much the same reason that he made Cinesias write poetry about birds in flight: in the world of comedy, an ‘airy’ philosopher would naturally be interested in ‘airy’ topics such as the movements of heavenly bodies (even though the real Socrates was not noted for his interest in cosmology). In real life Socrates complained about the inaccuracy of his portrayal in 112

4. The metaphorical language of criticism Clouds, but it is clear that Aristophanes’ caricature of him, as someone ‘who is whirled about the stage talking nonsense,’ did have a serious effect on his public image (Plato, Apology 19c). It seems that smoke could also be used metaphorically in a similar sense to air. In the passage quoted above (330) the clouds are compared in their appearance to smoke, while elsewhere Strepsiades, under the influence of sophistic rhetoric, expresses the desire to ‘chatter narrowly about smoke’ ( , Clouds 320) – that is, to waffle on about nothing.35 Similarly, a character in Eupolis’ Demes (fr. 135) was called ‘Smoke’ because of his empty talk, and Cratinus nicknamed his fellow comedian Ecphantides ‘Smoky’, apparently on account of his obscurity (fr. 462).36 It may be that a reference to Ecphantides is also intended by Bdelycleon in Aristophanes’ Wasps (151) when he exclaims: ‘I shall be known as the son of Smoky’;37 but the metaphor of smoke is also encountered elsewhere in Wasps (457-60), where it is transformed into physical reality on stage (the same comic technique that we have just observed in Clouds). Bdelycleon combats the chorus of jurors by blasting them with smoke from bellows, while the slave Xanthias shouts out encouragment: ‘Go on – suffocate them with a blast of smoke from Aeschines, son of Swank-artios’ ( ).38 This is a derogatory reference to the politician Aeschines, also described as ‘the son of Swank’ ( , Wasps 325), who was obviously known for his blustering, empty speech. Perhaps these metaphors were in wide general use to refer to anyone pretentious or vain, but it seems that they were associated above all with the type of writer or intellectual who represented innovation (always a questionable phenomenon in comedy, as we have seen in Chapter 3). All modern forms of thought, or trendy types of poetic or musical expression, could be presented as somehow bogus and viewed with suspicion. This is not to say that the comedians themselves were anti-intellectuals or reactionaries, but they no doubt reflect the outlook of their typical audience members (either in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the public or, as it might be, to parody or satirize their outlook). As Dover puts it (apropos of Clouds), ‘we must make an imaginative effort to adopt ... the position of someone to whom all novelty, all philosophical and scientific speculation, all disinterested intellectual curiosity, is boring and silly’.39 Conceptual metaphors are an effective means of articulating that sort of position. Implicitly linked to the metaphor of airiness is the related concept of weight. In order to float around in the air, as it were, one has to be ‘lightweight’. We have already mentioned the supposed slenderness of the dithyrambist Cinesias, a characteristic which can now be seen as a critical jibe rather than simply a literal description. The sophists too are repeatedly described in comedy as being slender – in Greek, leptos, a word which from the 420s or thereabouts seems to take on the additional sense of ‘subtle’ (or ‘over-subtle’): it is one of those words, such as sophos or dexios, which is inherently ambivalent, capable of bearing both 113

The Comedian as Critic positive and negative meanings at once.40 Plato, when he is describing the ‘ancient quarrel’ between philosophy and poetry in his Republic (10.607c), quotes the phrase (a reference to ‘slender’ or ‘subtle’ thinkers) as a typically denigratory description of philosophers by an unnamed poet: the quotation, which is unidentifiable, resembles certain phrases in Clouds and Frogs, and very probably comes from a comedy. The word leptos is also used repeatedly of Euripides, especially in the poetic contest in the second half of Frogs.41 In that contest the ‘slender’ (modern, intellectual, pretentious, etc.) verbiage of Euripides is contrasted with the ‘weighty’ (old-fashioned, sensible, decent, etc.) words of Aeschylus. This theme culminates in the famous scene near the end of that play (1364-1410: see below) in which an enormous pair of weighingscales is brought on stage and the words of Aeschylus and Euripides are literally weighed against each other. Once again the comedian is reducing a metaphor to absurdity by transforming it into literal, physical reality on stage. We may choose to interpret this concretization of the idea of literary ‘weight’ as an implicit criticism or rejection of the metaphor;42 or perhaps Aristophanes is mainly concerned with poking fun at Aeschylus’ Myrmidons (from which the weighing-scales are taken).43 Either way, it is obvious that Aristophanes did not invent the metaphor; he is transforming and manipulating a pre-existing image for his own purposes. Several scholars have seen Aristophanes’ imagery in Frogs as anticipating a significant feature of later rhetorical theory – that is, the dichotomy between the ‘grand’ and the ‘thin’ styles (as seen, in its more fully developed form, in the stylistic schemata of Theophrastus, Demetrius and others).44 It has even been suggested that the agôn in Frogs is heavily dependent on a lost Gorgianic treatise devoted to this subject.45 Given that Aristophanes in general seems to be absorbing other people’s theories rather than inventing his own, this is a perfectly plausible suggestion, but it has to be admitted that there is no solid evidence for a bipartite theory of style, by Gorgias or anyone else, at this date.46 Nevertheless, one does not have to assume dependence on any single model, or even any explicitly ‘theoretical’ content, in order to account for Aristophanes’ interest in language and style. It remains clear that the contrast made in Frogs between Aeschylus and Euripides, though it focuses inter alia on matters of content and subject-matter, is indeed largely a stylistic contrast. Whatever the precise source of Aristophanes’ ideas, their importance is that they reflect the emergence, during the fifth century, of a distinctively ‘literary’ approach to poetry, privileging style over content (what Bourdieu would call ‘autonomous’ literary criteria).47 All of this has brought us some way from the atmospheric imagery with which we started this discussion, but (as I said before) the way in which the comedians use these metaphors is very far from being systematic or theoretical, and there is a considerable amount of overlap between images. In fact, mixed metaphors are very often found, especially when rhetorical style is being described: as when, for example, Socrates tells 114

4. The metaphorical language of criticism Strepsiades that his rhetorical training will make him ‘an expert, a castanet, and fine-milled flour’ (Clouds 260). Such odd combinations of images are memorable but hard to interpret precisely: no doubt that is precisely the point. The best examples of this sort of technique are found in Aristophanes’ vivid characterization of the orator Cleon’s style (which is described by other sources as extraordinarily violent, loud and forceful).48 At Knights 436-7 Aristophanes employs weather imagery again, comparing Cleon’s speech to a powerful north-eastern wind which may cause danger to seafarers; and in several passages he likens Cleon’s verbal onslaught to that of the Cycloborus or other powerful torrent streams (Knights 137, Wasps 757, Peace 757). Elsewhere, Cleon’s speech is compared, in a single phrase, to both thunder and mountains (Knights 626-8), a mixed metaphor which effectively conveys the powerful scale of his rhetoric.49 In a riotous description of Cleon’s prosecution speech against Aristophanes in 426 BC, the image of the Cycloborus recurs, jumbled up with other metaphors (Acharnians 380-2): He slandered me, and French-kissed his lies all over me, and roared like the Cycloborus, and soaked me, so that I all but expired, covered in filth.

In three lines the comedian evokes extreme weather conditions, floods, erotic passion, noise and dirt – a thoroughly overwhelming combination.50 All of the images just mentioned are clearly pejorative in one sense or another. A more positive use of metaphors is seen in Eupolis’ often-cited description of Pericles’ style (Demes fr. 102): A. Pericles was the very best at speaking. Whenever he came forward, like those who are good at running, he would outdistance everyone else at speaking by ten feet. B. So he spoke quickly, did he? A. Yes – but apart from his speed, Persuasion perched upon his lips, and so he was enchanting to listen to; and of all the orators he alone left behind a sting in the audience.

Unless these lines are ironical, they do seem to contain nostalgic praise of Pericles. If there is any implied criticism here, it is of modern rhetoric, contrasted with the virtues of the older style of speaking (before the sophists and demagogues ruined everything). This fits in closely with the main theme of Demes, which was the degeneration of modern life and politics. As Storey comments, in his excellent discussion of the fragment, speaker B here ‘is trying to outdo the comments of A, who can think only in purely athletic terms, while B moves into a more elevated set of metaphors’.51 This is well put, but one might add that B apparently sees no contradiction between his choice of metaphor and A’s choice: the four separate images are seen as somehow complementary, rather than confusing or inconsistent. These various descriptions are striking because of their extended length and their unexpected juxtaposition of elements, rather than because they 115

The Comedian as Critic literally illustrate any specific stylistic features of the speech in question. One also notes that, as with many metaphorical descriptions of rhetoric (in comedy and elsewhere), the focus is primarily on the effect on the listener, rather than on the speaker’s words themselves.52 4.3. Craft and construction The notion that the poet is a craftsman and the poem a physical artefact – a statue, an artwork, a woven tapestry, a building, a monument or similar – is taken by the comedians directly from the traditional imagery of Greek lyric poetry.53 Pindar, for example, opens his sixth Olympian Ode to Hagesias of Syracuse by describing his poem as a magnificent temple: We shall establish golden pillars underneath the well-built porch of the chamber as if we were constructing a marvellous temple: once the work is begun, we must make the pediment visible from far afield.

Elsewhere Pindar also describes his poetry as ‘a monument whiter than Parian marble’ (Nemean 4.81) and his chorus as ‘carpenters of honeyvoiced songs’ (Nemean 3.4-5), while Bacchylides compares the act of composition to weaving (5.9-10) and monumental masonry (1.184, 10.10), and Simonides famously said that ‘painting is like silent poetry and poetry is like a talking painting’ (test. 47b);54 one could supply numerous other examples of this sort of imagery. The lyric poets’ use of these craft metaphors, though it is certainly picturesque and charming, is not purely decorative in function. Underlying the metaphor there is almost invariably some sort of self-consciously programmatic declaration of the nature and function of poetry itself. In the first place, our attention is being drawn to the idea of poetic technê and the fact that poetry, like craftsmanship, requires skilled labour. Secondly, we are being reminded of the commemorative function of poetry and its power to bestow permanent fame on its subject-matter (a function which is somewhat difficult to reconcile with the view that poetry is primarily a performative rather than a textual medium). As Andrew Ford has shown, it is around the turn of the fifth century that poets came to be widely referred to as poiêtai (‘makers’) and poems as poiêmata (‘things that are made’); but the poets themselves seldom make direct or straightforward comparisons between their own art and that of other craftsmen. More often there is an element of direct competition: it is being implied that poetry can fulfil the function of commemoration better than monuments or statuary. This competitive element is sometimes made fully explicit, as when Simonides writes that stone (unlike poetry) can be shattered even by mortal hands (fr. 581.5-6), or when Pindar begins his fifth Nemean Ode by singing: ‘I am not a statue-maker, the sort of person who fashions figures to stand motionless ever on the same pedestal’ (1-3). Poetry is not just more vivid than objects; it can also last longer. 116

4. The metaphorical language of criticism It is not only lyric poets who employ this sort of imagery. There are signs of a similar association of ideas in what remains of Presocratic and sophistic texts concerned with language and poetry. Democritus, for example, compared the art of Homer to that of a joiner, and used the metaphor of ‘images’ or ‘statues’ ( ) to refer to the names that we conventionally apply to things,55 while Gorgias spoke of words as possessing a physical ‘body’, and several times connects the power of rhetoric with the visual impact of statues and artworks.56 Both these writers are using the imagery of craftsmanship in connection with their broader philosophical interest in the relation of words to their referents ( ) and the relationship between written and spoken words.57 Along with the lyric poets, they are also concerned with the sort of effect exerted by poems – and other sorts of words – over the people who listen to them. Comedy too abounds in such images – as when, for example, the chorus in Cratinus’ Eumenides sing about ‘carpenters of skilfully-wrought hymns’ (fr. 70); or when a character in Teleclides (fr. 42) describes a play of Euripides that has been ‘put together with Socratic rivets’; or when the chorus-leader in the parabasis of Peace boasts that Aristophanes ‘has made our art (technê) great and built it up into a tower’ by getting rid of vulgar buffoonery (748-50); or when Strepsiades in Clouds is called a ‘verbal engineer’ (1395); or when Agathon’s art is compared to that of a ship-builder, a chariot-maker and a metalworker in the space of a few lines (Women at the Thesmophoria 52-7). Aristophanes also uses the metaphor when he is self-consciously commenting on his own plot-construction (Knights 461-4). The Paphlagonian is made to exclaim: ‘By Demeter! I haven’t failed to notice the way that things are being constructed: I can quite see how it’s all being bolted and glued together’, to which the slave responds by asking the Sausage-seller: ‘Oh dear – what about you? Are you not going to use a phrase taken from the wheelwright?’ This metatheatrical aside also draws attention rather artificially to the use (or over-use?) of metaphor itself. At first sight the comedians may seem to be simply redeploying a very well worn metaphor, and in some cases it is hard to see anything very remarkable about their usage.58 However, there are three important respects in which the comedians differ from their predecessors. First of all, they seem to extend the field of reference of the metaphor to cover a wider range of manufacturing activities than before: they take images from the engineer’s workshop and the blacksmith’s forge, among other sources. Secondly, they pursue these metaphors with a dogged literalism, as if poetry were actually a physical object whose construction and appearance could be described in exact detail: this ‘literalization’ of metaphor is a characteristic of comedy which we have already observed. Thirdly, and perhaps most interestingly, they use these metaphors in an implicitly evaluative sense rather than a descriptive sense – and, furthermore, what is being evaluated very often turns out to be verbal style in particular. 117

The Comedian as Critic A fragment of dialogue from Laconians (or Poets) by Platon provides a good illustration of the transformation of the metaphor (fr. 69): A. But what if I need an angular word ( B. Stand right here and I’ll lever the stone into place.


It is obvious that the metaphor is being used in an explicitly stylistic sense here, relating to the specific use of individual words. Of course, words do not literally have corners, and so even if the rest of the scene had survived it would no doubt be difficult to see just what an ‘angular’ style would constitute in practice.59 But the really interesting thing about this fragment is that it apparently comes from a scene in which someone was actually ‘building’ a poem or phrase on stage. The context is unknown, but one can imagine several plausible scenarios: one poet demonstrating his craft to a student, perhaps; or two poets comparing notes; or a poet in the guise of master-mason giving instructions to a labourer. At any rate, it is clear that the audience was presented with the spectacle of two characters laboriously translating a hackneyed old metaphor into comic reality. The nature of the stage business here, involving the use of levers and real or ‘prop’ stones, implies a fairly lengthy scene in which the ‘angular’ style was explored in some detail, with the use of examples and quotations. In other words, this lost comedy probably involved a staged act of ‘practical criticism’ very much along the same lines as in Aristophanes’ Frogs.60 In Frogs itself the metaphor of poetry as artefact is central to the contest between Aeschylus and Euripides, where the idea is pursued at some length. Here poetic technê is not just weighed on scales (13651413) but also measured and tested using a variety of builders’ tools and instruments such as rulers, set-squares, compasses, measuring-frames and wedges (798-802).61 Predictably, Aeschylus’ poetry is described in terms of an enormously solid edifice, while that of Euripides uses more precise, delicate craftsmanship and is smaller in scale. This sort of contrast may already have been well established by the time Aristophanes wrote Frogs. At any rate, Aeschylus seems to have become associated with the image of hefty masonry: he was also a character in Pherecrates’ Small Fry, in which he was made to say: ‘It was I who built up this great art of tragedy and handed it on to them’ (fr. 100).62 The artisanal imagery in Frogs (and elsewhere) may be implicitly based on the dichotomy between ‘grand’ and ‘thin’ styles (mentioned above),63 though it is not purely a stylistic matter. As elsewhere, the use of mixed metaphors obscures the overall meaning to some extent. This is illustrated particularly well by the choral song that introduces the contest (814-29):64 Assuredly the mighty thunderer will have a terrible wrath in his heart, when he sees his adversary in art whetting his sharp-talking tooth. Then indeed will he roll his eyes in terrible rage! Making the shaggy-necked hair of his hirsute mane-ridge stand on end,


4. The metaphorical language of criticism contracting his formidable brow into a frown, he will let out a roar and utter words fastened together with bolts, tearing them off like ship-timbers with his gigantic storm-blast. Thenceforth indeed will the mouth-worker, the tester-out of words, the smooth tongue unfurling itself, shake off the reins of envy, portion out words, and subdue by subtle argumentation that great labour of the lungs. There will be flashing-helmeted conflicts of lofty-crested words, and slivers of linchpins, and shavings from the workbench, as this mortal defends himself against the horse-riding words of a craftsman of thought.

Despite the insistent stress on the verbal aspect of the contest – the ‘overworked’ repetition of (821, 824, 828; cf. 818),65 and the declaration that the various measuring-instruments are being used precisely in order to test plays word by word ( , 802) – it is clear that a number of other concepts are being jumbled together here. The contrast between the two rival tragedians is brought out using a number of different metaphors – Aeschylus the Zeus-like ‘thunderer’ vs Euripides the mere mortal; Aeschylus the Homeric-style hero vs Euripides the smooth-talking modern man; Aeschylus’ ship-wrecking storm of verbiage vs Euripides’ cool, measured rhetoric; Aeschylus’ roaring vs Euripides’ sharpened tooth and smooth tongue; Aeschylus’ mighty edifices of nuts and bolts vs Euripides’ slivers and shavings, and so on. These distinctions are based on a range of criteria including linguistic style, subject matter, moral purpose, intellectual content and psychological effect on the audience, but the manner of presentation means that these criteria, along with the terminology used to express them, cannot be fully subjected to objective analysis.66 Aristophanes’ bold, chaotic mixing-up of metaphors emphasizes the complexity of the issues involved in making any sort of literary judgement between the two tragedians. Aristophanes may have been referring to his own or someone else’s style when he used the language of the metal foundry (fr. 719, from an unknown play):67 ... to unveil elegant phrases and jokes too, all fresh from the bellows and the foundry mould.

Once again, despite the emphasis on phrases ( ), we cannot conclude that the metaphor is being used in an exclusively stylistic sense in this instance: it is possible that the act of writing is being compared to the manufacturing process in a more general sense. But there is also an additional suggestion of novelty here – a quality of form or content which (as we have seen) Aristophanes often evokes in one sense or another. Perhaps this particular metalworking image, which is nowhere else attested, is itself newly invented. Indeed, several scholars have argued that the comedians’ choice and deployment of metaphors demonstrates their competitive spirit particularly well, as the poets vied with one another to come up with ever more startling or recherché images.68 However, there is another significant point to be made about the particular choice of 119

The Comedian as Critic metaphor in this fragment and elsewhere (as in the Frogs passages cited above). That is, the type of ‘artefact’ being manufactured by the poets in question is seen as being particularly useful: metalworkers and engineers produce objects that are more practical and relevant to everyday life than the type of monumental or decorative artefacts frequently evoked by Pindar and others. Thus the metaphor, in addition to its other meanings, may contain an implicit comment (ironic or serious as it might be) about the social function of drama as opposed to old-fashioned lyric poetry. 4.4. Bodily functions It is in keeping with the spirit of comedy generally that we should encounter ‘low’, bodily and excremental imagery in connection with literature.69 Such imagery is perhaps less frequent than one might have expected, but nevertheless it forms a distinct strand in the language of comic criticism. Unlike the metaphors described above, bodily functions are seldom used to denote characteristics of style. Rather, they are used in a general (and often vague) sense to characterize poets or their work, and they are frequently linked with bad poetry. Aristophanes’ description of Cratinus as a habitual bed-wetter (Knights 400-1) is usually taken to imply a certain incontinence in his writing: one is reminded of the use of the phrase ‘pisse-copie’ in French to describe the sort of writer or journalist who prizes quantity over quality. The related image of Cratinus as a torrential river in full flood (Knights 526-8) probably also denotes that he wrote too much and too indiscriminately.70 Cratinus was a notorious boozer, of course, which may go some way towards explaining the joke (see the discussion of The Wine-Flask below); but this metaphor is not associated with Cratinus alone. The assimilation of bad poetry to urine is seen elsewhere, in the prologue of Frogs (935), where Dionysus speaks disparagingly of modern-day tragedians as ‘damagers of the art who, if they even get a chorus at all, vanish pretty quickly once they have pissed all over tragedy’.71 Other bodily fluids and excretions might on occasion be evoked for similar purposes. Antimachus, mocked by Aristophanes at Acharnians 1150-1, is referred to not only as ‘the composer of bad poems’ but also as ‘the son of Drizzle’. The point of the joke, as explained by the scholiast on this passage, may be that Antimachus had a habit of spraying his audience with saliva when he was reciting his poetry, but it may also be that bad, boring or waffly poetry itself is being somehow likened to spit.72 This is suggested by another passage (Peace 815) where the chorus calls upon the Muse of comedy to join them in insulting the dreadful poets Morsimus and Melanthius: ‘Spit a big fat gob of phlegm on them!’ The relationship between spitting and bad poetry is not spelled out exactly, but there is a definite association being made in these passages by means of suggestive juxtaposition. In a similar vein, the chorus of Acharnians (1168-73) gleefully imagines Cratinus being hit by a ‘freshly-shat turd’ thrown by an assailant: again, 120

4. The metaphorical language of criticism the association of ideas is effective whether or not one sees any literal comparison being made between poetry and excrement. However, the joke at Assemblywomen 326-30 does seem to depend on a stronger sense that Cinesias’ poetry really is shit, as Blepyrus’ neighbour says to him: ‘What’s that brown stuff all over you? Has Cinesias defecated on you?’ A similar joke about Cinesias’ diarrhoea appears elsewhere in Aristophanes (Frogs 366): reference to his supposedly loose bowels is just one of a number of ways in which this unfortunate poet is ridiculed in comedy. Cinesias is also one of a number of bad poets who, in Aristophanes’ Gerytades (fr. 156), are depicted as being carried about the Underworld by the current of a river of diarrhoea.73 This extension of the poetryas-shit image is a grotesque distortion of the more familiar (and rather more positive) metaphor of poetry as a stream of water. This metaphor, which is frequently encountered in later poetry and literary criticism,74 is comparatively rare in comedy, but it was obviously current in the fifth century. We have already mentioned its use to describe Cratinus’ poetry (Knights 526-8) and Cleon’s oratory (Knights 137, Wasps 757, Peace 757), and it is also seen in Pherecrates’ comedy Mr Forgetful (fr. 56), where someone’s speech is described as ‘a flood rushing down’. The transformation of pure, healthy, life-giving water into the domain of dirt and waste makes for a strikingly pejorative value-judgement, but it tells us nothing about Cinesias’ poetry itself. Sexual imagery raises its head relatively infrequently. When, from time to time, it is used, it tends to be connected with negative valuejudgements, and (once again) it takes the form of a suggestive association of ideas rather than a close comparison of sex and poetry. When, for instance, Aristophanes uses the name of the tragedian Doriallus as a slang term for the female genitals (Lemnian Women fr. 382), or alleges that Callias was ‘screwed’ by the tragedian Meletus (Farmers fr. 117), it is hard to pursue the significance of these insults very far in literary-critical terms. When Euripides’ Relative in Women at the Thesmophoria (130-4) says that he feels a sexual frisson at hearing some verses of Agathon’s poetry, this strikes us as rather more interesting, since it implies that the psychological effect of poetry upon the listener might include sexual arousal (a function of literature conspicuously absent from the theories of Plato, Aristotle and others). The fact that the Relative is experiencing a tingling in his bottom, rather than any other part of his anatomy, shows that the apparently approving attitude shown towards Agathon’s poetry is actually hostile (since passive homosexual intercourse is stigmatized in comedy). Agathon himself is portrayed as an outrageously camp transsexual (an aspect to which we shall return below). Significantly, there were no female dramatists (of course), and so the male poets made the most of the fact that kômôidia was a feminine noun and thus (like other abstract nouns, such as poiêsis, eirênê, opôra, theôria, methê and so on) could be personified in the form of a female character.75 Comic Production (Kômôidodidaskalia) is one such personified abstraction, mentioned by the chorus-leader in Aristophanes’ 121

The Comedian as Critic Knights (516-17): he describes how, ‘although many’ [sc. rival comedians] ‘have made a pass at her, she grants her favours to just a few’. The good poet – such as Aristophanes – is one who has managed to have his wicked way with the literary form that he practises: thus poetic success equals virility and sexual dominance. In a sinister development of the metaphor, unsuccessful poets may resort to rape in order to achieve the outcome they desire. One of the characters in Pherecrates’ comedy Cheiron (fr. 155) was Music (Mousikê), who appeared on stage ‘in the guise of a woman who has undergone complete violation of her person’ (according to the writer who quotes the passage).76 She complains that certain musical innovators, including Melanippides, Phrynis and – yet again – the dreaded Cinesias, have mauled her around outrageously, forcibly undressing her, subjecting her to awful (‘twisty’ and ‘wriggling’) noises, and leaving her ‘completely ruined’. By contrast, other female abstractions might grant their favours too freely: one such figure is the ‘Muse of Euripides’, who appears at Frogs 1306-8 in the guise of a prostitute.77 It is said that this woman ‘didn’t play the Lesbian, no, Sir!’ – a suspiciously vigorous denial which makes us think that she almost certainly did ‘play the Lesbian’ (i.e. performed fellatio on Euripides).78 In some (not very clear) sense, Euripides’ cock-sucking Muse is seen as being responsible for the problematic nature of his poetry. As Edith Hall points out, what is so interesting about this character is that ‘she is a personification of a qualitative aesthetic evaluation, which is indeed a refined concept for a mute actor in a comedy to signify’.79 But what exactly is being evaluated? Is the Muse’s characterization designed to make us think specifically of Euripides’ problematic female characters, his Phaedras, Stheneboeas and Hypsipyles,80 or is it a more general poetic put-down? It is impossible to say. In a natural extension of this sexual imagery, the act of writing itself could be compared to the act of procreation. Cratinus in The Wine-Flask (fr. 203) said that ‘no one who drinks water could ever beget anything clever’, a phrase which obviously became well-known in antiquity, since it is quoted in a quasi-proverbial sense by several later writers.81 As in many other comic formulations, we see a mixture of metaphors here, since the phrase also refers to the image of poetic inspiration as a form of intoxication (see below). The metaphor of ‘giving birth’ to a poem is not widely attested elsewhere in the remains of comedy,82 but it is hinted at near the beginning of Aristophanes’ Frogs, where Dionysus declares that he is looking for a ‘potent’ or ‘fertile’ poet ( , 96). The metaphor recurs later in the same play when ‘Aeschylus’ talks of ‘giving birth’ to great words and ideas (1059), and it is found even more explicitly in the parabasis of Clouds (530-32), where Aristophanes refers to his plays as his children (to be ‘brought up’ either by himself or by another producer). A similar concept is also hinted at by the student in Clouds (137) who complains that Strepsiades, by knocking on his door unexpectedly, has ‘caused the miscarriage of a discovery’. This moment may well remind us of the ‘person from Porlock’ who disturbed Coleridge during the 122

4. The metaphorical language of criticism composition of Kubla Kahn, although there is no explicit reference to writing or poetry in the student’s words.83 4.5. Art and life The idea that a poet’s writing directly reflects his life, circumstances or character – in some way or another – is implicit in much literary criticism. In antiquity the concept was given explicit treatment in relation to literary style (in particular) by several writers including Aristotle, Cicero and Seneca.84 An author’s bodily appearance, dress or other mannerisms could be used figuratively as a way of describing or evaluating his writing. It is not clear how well developed this concept was during the fifth century, but it obviously existed in some form, since Aristophanes makes fun of it in several places. In one lost play Aristophanes said of Euripides: ‘The way that he makes his characters speak corresponds exactly to how he is himself’ (fr. 694). This appears to be a primarily stylistic comment about conversational idiom, though the scrappiness of the fragment makes it impossible to be certain. However, another Aristophanic passage (Acharnians 41013) uses a comparable idea in a more complex and ambiguous manner. Here the hero Dicaeopolis has gone to visit Euripides at home in order to borrow a tragic costume from him, because he judges that he will be able to win over the Athenian assembly more effectively if he is dressed as a tragic character (‘in guise most piteous’, 384). There are two separate reasons why this might seem a good idea: not only do tragic characters evoke more sympathy than comic ones, but Euripides’ characters are also known to be persuasive speakers (420-9). But attention is also drawn to Euripides’ own deportment and costume: Dicaeopolis: Are you writing poetry with your feet up, when they could be on the ground? No wonder you write about lame people! And why are you wearing those rags from a tragedy, pathetic garments that they are? No wonder you write about beggars!

The content of Euripides’ plays is assumed to be dictated by Euripides’ circumstances – not his character or personality (as such), but rather by his clothes and posture. Thus we can see that several related ideas are being confused here: considerations of style and subject-matter are hard to disentangle from one another; tragedy’s emotional effect is treated as being due to its costumes and props as much as its content or language; and the writer’s inner character is treated as synonymous with his outward bearing and appearance. It may be that the confusion is deliberate, and Aristophanes is having fun by mangling or parodying current stylistic theories; or it may be that these ‘theories’ had not yet been very rigorously formulated.85 The main idea in the scene above – that one can change one’s character and speech by adopting a disguise – is taken a stage further in the later 123

The Comedian as Critic play Women at the Thesmophoria.86 Here we see the tragedian Agathon, as he prepares himself to write, deliberately attempting to enter into the feelings of the characters in his play in order to give his writing verisimilitude. This technique might almost be called ‘method writing’ (analogous to method acting):87 Agathon explains that ‘a man who is a writer must adopt habits (tropoi) that correspond to the plays that he has to write’ (Thesm. 149-50). However, Agathon’s interpretation of this principle is based not on psychology but simply on clothing: he thinks that it is enough for the writer to dress like his characters. Agathon: Look at Phrynichus – you must have heard of him – he was a beautiful man and dressed beautifully, and for that very reason his plays were beautiful. We needs must compose poetry according to our nature (physis). Relative of Euripides: That explains, then, why Philocles, being a terrible man, writes terribly, and why Xenocles, being a bad man, writes badly, and again why Theognis, being cold, writes coldly. Agathon: Yes, it must be so – and it is because I realized this fact that I did myself up like this (164-72).

As in the passage above, one’s essential nature (physis) is treated, in a comical oversimplification, as being synonymous with one’s appearance. The precise way in which Agathon has ‘done himself up’ is also significant, because he is dressed and made up as a woman (136-43). The reason he offers for becoming effeminate is that he is writing plays about women (151-2). But alongside this ostensible explanation is another reason based not on content but on poetic style, since the Relative tells us that Agathon’s poetry itself is ‘sweet, feminine-scented, French-kissed, lasciviously-snogged’ (130-2). Is ‘femininity’ meant to be understood as a characteristic of style? Later rhetorical theorists did indeed distinguish between the ‘manly’ and the ‘female’ styles,88 and it may well be that some notion (however provisional) of types of writing or speaking markedly differentiated by gender already existed in the fifth century.89 This is strongly suggested by a fragment of another Aristophanic comedy (fr. 706), where a character is described as ... having the ‘middle’ speech of the city, neither effeminately urbane nor slavishly countrified.

This looks very much like an early tripartite theory of style, with the ‘effeminate’ style associated with urban sophistication, the ‘countrified’ style associated with rustic simplicity (and – by implication – with manliness?), and the ‘middle’ style somewhere in between. As in so many places elsewhere, Aristophanes is making it difficult for us to distinguish between considerations of content and style. Of course, as Austin and Olson point out in their commentary on the passage, ‘this is not a systematic scholarly treatise on poetics’. This is absolutely correct, but we can still interpret the humour in various quite different 124

4. The metaphorical language of criticism ways. The underlying principle here (‘by their works shall ye know them’) might be taken to imply that women or effeminate men would be naturally inclined either to write about women or to write about any subject at all in a feminine style; or it might lead us to deduce, if we were to read a markedly ‘feminine’ bit of poetry, that its author must be a woman or an effeminate man. But which conclusion is being reached from which premises? Frances Muecke concludes her valuable discussion of the Agathon scene by saying that ‘if Agathon had not been effeminate, Aristophanes would have had to make him so’.90 This is very suggestive indeed. It is usually supposed that the real-life Agathon was a camp, cross-dressing character, but despite a few other comic gags that depict him as such, we have no evidence that the real-life Agathon was at all effeminate.91 The joke would have been even funnier, perhaps, if it were Agathon’s style that was widely thought to be ‘feminine’ but Agathon himself was known to be a strapping, red-blooded, alpha male character. Compare the treatment of Euripides in Acharnians: the joke is funny because we know that Euripides did not literally hobble about dressed in rags. I suggest that Aristophanes is creating humour by applying comic logic to Agathon’s poetry, arguing that the author of ‘feminine’ verse must be effeminate even though this was self-evidently not the case. In this way, he is demonstrating the silliness of the metaphor of style as gender – or, more generally, the potential unsoundness of the principle that poetry can tell you anything about its author. All the same, that principle continued (and still continues) to flourish. The ancient Lives of the tragic and comic poets, for instance, rely heavily on a similarly fallacious process of reasoning. One particularly striking biographical anecdote from Chamaeleon (fr. 40 Wehrli) deduces that Aeschylus must have been a drunk, because he was the first tragedian to portray drunk characters on stage. It seems likely that this detail was taken straight from a lost comedy by Aristophanes (or one of his rivals).92 Not only is it very similar to the treatment of Agathon and Euripides in the two scenes discussed above, but in general it has been convincingly demonstrated that many of the ‘factual’ details recorded in the ancient Lives of the dramatists (especially that of Euripides) are taken straight from the plots of their own plays or from the comedians’ caricatures.93 4.6. Drink From Aeschylus we proceed, naturally enough, to Kingsley Amis, who in his Memoirs writes: ‘now and then I become conscious of having the reputation of being one of the great drinkers, if not one of the great drunks, of our time, certainly among its literary fraternity’.94 According to Amis, this reputation is based mainly on the fact that the characters in his novels (including, most famously, ‘Lucky’ Jim Dixon) are often drunk or hung over. Thus there is a direct line to be traced between the ancient comedians and biographers and modern literary journalists. In fact Sir 125

The Comedian as Critic Kingsley’s own consumption of alcohol attained heroic proportions, so he is being ironically disingenuous; but he goes on to acknowledge that throughout history a powerful connection has often existed between writing and boozing. In modern literary life, the category of the ‘literary drunk’ is immediately recognizable: apart from Amis, one calls to mind such figures as Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Baudelaire and so on. These men (for they nearly always are men, despite rare exceptions such as Dorothy Parker) represent a certain type of writer, one for whom the consumption of alcohol is seen as a necessary stimulus for the creative process.95 In addition, alcohol may also be seen as inherently characterizing the sort of writing that they produce. Such writers are not just occasional tipplers but habitual, heavy drinkers who put the stuff away in such quantities that it endangers their health and often kills them in the end – but that may seem a small price to pay for the existence of great literature. The most notorious ‘literary drunk’ in fifth-century Athens was Cratinus. He gamely played up to this reputation by writing a comedy, The Wine-Flask, in which he himself, extraordinarily, was the main character. The play is lost, but the plot is partially preserved in an Aristophanic scholion:96 Despite the fact that he had retired from writing and competing in festivals, he wrote one more play, The Wine-Flask, about himself and his inebriation (methê), of which the plot was as follows. Cratinus made Comedy his own wife: she wanted to divorce him and move out, and to issue a lawsuit against him for mistreating her. However, Cratinus’ friends and relations came on the scene, entreated her not to do anything reckless, and asked her what was causing her hostility. She criticized Cratinus on the grounds that he no longer bothered with Comedy but instead spent all his time getting drunk.

Comedy (Kômôidia) is a personified female abstraction of the type we have already discussed above. Cratinus’ relationship to his literary genre is portrayed in terms of a sexual relationship, but it is a particularly close and intimate one: whereas Aristophanes and others depict Comedy as a mistress or prostitute, Cratinus is actually married to her. Thus Cratinus, despite his apparent self-deprecation, wittily tweaks the metaphor to convey an element of one-upmanship over his rivals. Nevertheless, his relationship with Comedy is portrayed as being in serious difficulty because of methê. Or ought that to be Methê (with a capital letter)? It is possible that Inebriation (Methê) should be treated as another personification, and it is easy to imagine the possibilities for humour that would have arisen if she appeared on stage as Cratinus’ mistress.97 The Wine-Flask seems to have embodied metatheatrical selfconsciousness and reflection on the art of writing to a degree unmatched by any other ancient drama. This fascinating lost work reflects several areas of interest – its blurring of fact and fiction; the unusual way in which the poet’s voice is articulated; its engagement with the dynamics of comic 126

4. The metaphorical language of criticism competition; its on-stage depiction of the act of writing a playscript (frr. 208, 209, 217); the fact that Cratinus seems to be responding to aspects of his depiction in Aristophanes’ Knights (not just his drunkenness but also his ‘torrential’ style: see fr. 198); and the fact that this play famously defeated the original version of Clouds at the Dionysia of 423 BC. These and related matters have been widely discussed elsewhere.98 For our purposes here, the most important question concerns the exact way in which inebriation functioned as a metaphor for some aspect of poetry or the creative process. Unfortunately, this question is the most difficult to answer, principally because we are in the dark about what happened in the second half of the play. The whole premise of the plot seems to be that excessive drinking impedes rather than inspires the production of poetry. At the start of the play, Cratinus seems to have presented himself as having stopped writing altogether and turned to the bottle in earnest. In that case, it has been thought that the natural resolution of the plot would have involved Cratinus’ giving up drink and consequently resuming his literary activities.99 Several of the fragments suggest that Cratinus went cold turkey during the play: in one scene Comedy (or someone else) tried to prevent him getting hold of a drink by smashing all his drinking-vessels (fr. 199); and elsewhere Cratinus appears to be ‘wasting away’ for want of a drink (fr. 196), or peering hopefully into an empty wine-jar but finding only cobwebs inside (fr. 202). Perhaps at the end of the play Cratinus succeeded in kicking the habit, was reconciled with Comedy, went back to composing poetry, and lived happily ever after. There is no way of proving that this scenario did not take place. However, it may seem rather strange, and at odds with the sympotic and komastic leanings of the genre, for a comedy to end with its hero renouncing wine.100 It is also significant that all the other metaphorical references to drink, in comedy and elsewhere, present it as a source of poetic inspiration rather than the reverse. The idea that poetry is not only inspired by wine but also somehow equivalent to wine is, like many other images in comedy, taken directly from early Greek poetry.101 Being intoxicated by drink might be presented as a form of divine inspiration, especially for a dramatist (since Dionysus was the god of both wine and theatre), but for other poets as well. Anacreon (eleg. fr. 2) declared that poetic activity is prompted by ‘drinking wine from the full bowl’, and Archilochus made notable use of the same idea in an iambic poem (fr. 120 West), singing: ‘I know how to start the lovely singing of my lord Dionysus’ dithyramb when my wits are thunderstruck with wine’. Pindar in particular directly compared his poetry to wine, describing himself as ‘mixing a drinking-bowl of the Muse’s poetry’, ‘pouring out offerings of honey-voiced song’, ‘handing around the powerful offspring of the vine in silver cups’ and so on.102 If The Wine-Flask did end by making sobriety a precondition for the renewal of the creative process, we will have to assume that Cratinus was rejecting – or pretending to reject – the widespread idea that wine 127

The Comedian as Critic and poetry were inherently connected. Perhaps the idea of Cratinus-asliterary-drunk was so firmly embedded in the popular consciousness that this scenario would have been funny because of its shock value. What, then, are we to do with the play’s most famous line, ‘No one who drinks water could ever beget anything clever’ (fr. 203)? This sentiment, which has the distinct ring of a maxim, is quoted by later writers in such a way as to suggest that it was Cratinus’ own personal credo.103 Perhaps we are to imagine that Cratinus spoke the line early in the play, when still under the influence of alcohol, but recanted it later on. However, matters become more complicated when we realize that fragment 203 may be a deliberate response to a line in Aristophanes’ Knights (88), where one of the slaves asks: ‘How could anyone who is drunk ever come up with a good plan?’ The scene continues (Knights 89-96): First Slave: Really? Is that so? You’re just a babbling bucket of nonsense! How dare you insult the creative power of wine? Could you ever invent anything more efficacious? It’s when people drink, you see, that they get rich, they prosper, they win cases in court, they’re happy, they’re useful people to have as friends. So fetch me a jug of wine quickly, so that I can water my brain and say something clever.

Here there is no specific reference to poetry, but Aristophanes is clearly evoking the traditional image of wine as a source of inspiration.104 Drinking wine is said to have a nourishing, refreshing effect on the intellect, like watering a plant ( , 96). If this is so, it could be seen as a contradiction that Aristophanes later satirizes Cratinus for his drinking habits rather than applauding him. Perhaps, then, one of Cratinus’ aims in his own ‘comeback’ play was to draw his audience’s attention to this implied contradiction. However, that does not entirely solve the problem of how to interpret his own use of the metaphor. Did Cratinus in The Wine-Flask give up booze or not? Several recent interpreters have preferred to think that he carried on drinking, and that the play’s message was ultimately a reaffirmation of the positive power of wine in the face of Aristophanes’ illogical criticism.105 But if they are right, it is hard to explain why Comedy should have wanted to part company with Cratinus in the first place; and it is even harder to see why Inebriation (whether personified or not) should have been conceived of as a separate, rival entity. All one can really say, by way of conclusion, is that Cratinus’ play derived its humour from evoking a very well-known metaphor and playing around with it in a provocative way, as well as responding polemically to Aristophanes. There is no reason to suppose that his treatment of the metaphor actually made sense: indeed, if we look too hard for conceptual clarity or logical coherence we may be missing the point. It is far more likely, and far more in keeping with the spirit of comedy, that Cratinus was deliberately setting out to be obscure or paradoxical.


4. The metaphorical language of criticism 4.7. Food All of the metaphors discussed above were already part of the language of criticism before the comedians got hold of them and manipulated them for their own ends. This does not seem to be true of the final metaphor we shall discuss here: the idea that literature is ‘food’ to be ‘consumed’ by its audience or readers. This sort of vocabulary is very familiar to us – so familiar, in fact, that nowadays it is quite difficult to talk about our literary or cultural preferences without using the metaphor of taste – but to theatre audiences and readers in the late fifth century the language of literary ‘taste’ would have seemed much more remarkable. The comedians make use of food-related imagery more frequently than any other type of metaphor when talking about literature. This fact is striking, but easily comprehensible in the light of comedy’s welldocumented generic preoccupation with culinary matters.106 Greek comedians, not just in the fifth century but for many years later, exhibit a recurrent interest in food and feasting, in both public and domestic settings. As John Wilkins has shown, in his ground-breaking study of the discourse of food in comedy, ‘food and cooking are at the centre of the comic world ... Comedy is where food is to be found in profusion, redressing the imbalance in favour of wine that sympotic poetry and philosophy promoted’.107 Comedy is, one might say, the genre of food – a fact which distinguishes it from other types of poetry, and which is of some importance when assessing the function of cooking and eating in certain paratragic scenes.108 It is quite natural, then, that we should find the comedians using food-related metaphors rather more extensively than other sorts of writer, and unsurprising that they should employ such language in connection with literature (alongside other areas of activity).109 What is more surprising, perhaps, is that the concept of literatureas-food caught on quite widely: other writers in antiquity, including ‘serious’ literary critics, also started using the same conceptual metaphor. Emily Gowers, whose fascinating book The Loaded Table traces the representation of food in literature throughout the classical period, discusses numerous texts in which writers draw various types of analogy between literature and food.110 Authors as diverse as Plato, Cicero, Seneca, Horace, Plautus and Quintilian depict themselves as cooks; words are described as a ‘feast’; ornamental language is described in terms of ‘seasoning’; literary style is described as ‘taste’ in a literal sense; reading is compared to ‘consumption’ or ‘digestion’ ... and so on. This sort of rhetoric is interesting partly because food and other bodily matters were traditionally considered ‘low’ subject matter, which might seem to be incongruous in the context of ‘high’ intellectual or literary discourse.111 Even more interesting is the fact that food imagery is practically the only area in which the comedians seem to have exerted a completely original influence on the critical tradition, rather than (as 129

The Comedian as Critic elsewhere) merely adapting or distorting concepts that were already current. This is not to say that their use of food imagery is necessarily more coherent, or easier to interpret, than any of their other metaphors, but it can be seen as significant or suggestive in a number of ways. The main purpose of food, of course, is to provide nourishment. Thus, if comedy is equivalent to food, there are important consequences as regards its social function: good comedy may be seen as catering to the Athenians’ essential bodily needs as well as to the political life of the community. This function was emphasized by, among others, Pherecrates in Small Fry (fr. 101). In that comedy the author-figure, probably in a parabasis, claimed that he had always generously satisfied the appetites of his audience, saying: ‘If anyone in the audience was thirsty, he could gulp down a whole cupful’. Athenaeus (11.464), who quotes the fragment, records that Pherecrates compared his comedy to food as well as wine, and adds: ‘the comedian vows that up to his time the spectators had not gone away hungry’. This shows that the metaphor is being used here in a competitive context: Pherecrates’ comedy will fill you up, while his rivals’ offerings will leave you hungry. The underlying element of competition may, by this time, strike us as fairly predictable; but the precise way in which Pherecrates defends the merits of his own work in contrast to other comedy is actually rather unexpected, for he is emphasizing its quantity rather than its quality. By comparing his work to a big meal, the poet may be implying that he alone can fulfil the audience’s basic needs: without Pherecrates’ comedy, one would starve. On the other hand, a different sort of contrast may be intended. It may be that Pherecrates is deliberately distancing himself from the fancy fare offered up by certain other comedians. Is his hearty, nourishing comedy to be seen as resembling one of those ‘All You Can Eat’ buffets, in stark contrast to the world of fine dining with its fussy presentation and insubstantial portions? If so, it appears that Pherecrates may have been aiming his work at a type of spectator somewhat lower down the socio-economic scale than the target audience of some of his rivals. Aristocrats and gourmands would have been far outnumbered in the theatre by poor, ordinary Athenians – which means that making fun of luxury dining was probably not such a bad strategy to adopt if one did want to win first prize in the competition. Nevertheless, several comedians do align themselves with sophisticated cuisine rather than plain cooking. For instance, as we have already observed elsewhere, Callias (fr. 26) criticized the old-fashioned, boring work of his rivals by comparing it to plain, cheap, everyday foods such as pea soup, turnips and radishes.112 Metagenes, in The Man Who Liked Sacrifices (fr. 15), describes his method of composition in terms of the art of a master chef: ‘I vary my plot scene-by-scene,’ he says, ‘in order to feast the audience with many and varied novel side-dishes’. This is very different from the sort of image evoked by Pherecrates. Metagenes invites us to see him as the provider of luxury goods in profusion: his use of the word ‘side-dish’ ( ) shows that he conceives of his comedy 130

4. The metaphorical language of criticism not as a plain, staple foodstuff but as some sort of sweetmeat or delicious snack.113 The skill of the poet-chef, and the opulence of the produce on offer, is emphasized by the repeated reference to variety; and one also notes the connection between food and novelty (a connection seen elsewhere in comedy).114 In a similar vein to Metagenes, Aristophanes, in the second Women at the Thesmophoria (fr. 347), used the image of square meal versus sophisticated snack in order to make a distinction between his own comedy and that of Crates: Yes, indeed, the art of comedy-writing was a substantial meal in the days when Crates made them laugh by thinking that his salt-fish was ‘gleaming like ivory’, and ‘effortlessly summoned up’, and countless such stuff along the same lines.

It would be good to know more about the context to which this fragment belonged, but even as it stands it contains a couple of points of interest. First of all, the fact that Crates evidently compared his own work to food shows that the metaphor was in use considerably earlier than the date at which Aristophanes was writing. Secondly, it is clear that two sorts of comedy are being contrasted, and that food and novelty are being linked together in order to bring out this contrast. The ‘substantial meal’ is associated with the good – or bad – old days, while it is implied that modern comedy represents a rather more sophisticated dining experience. The younger comedian’s apparent approval for the old-timer Crates is patently ironical. When he quotes the phrase ‘effortlessly summoned up’ – a description which Crates himself, presumably, was using in order to impress his audience – Aristophanes manages to impart a negative sense to it, implying that he himself has spent a lot more time and effort preparing his own nouvelle cuisine. Elsewhere Aristophanes again uses the same metaphor when talking of Crates. It may well be that Crates had been particularly noted for his use (or over-use) of comedy-as-food imagery: this is suggested by the statement that his comedies contained ‘countless such stuff along the same lines’. Perhaps Aristophanes is both drawing attention to this trait and using it as a weapon against Crates, by transforming the meaning of the metaphor and turning it back on him. At Knights 537-9, Aristophanes pretends to be cajoling the audience for their changing tastes and their neglect of the aged Crates, saying: Look how angrily and scornfully you rejected Crates, who used to send you off home with a snack that didn’t cost too much to prepare, kneading the dough of the wittiest conceptions that came from the very daintiest of palates.

There is, perhaps, a slight contradiction between this passage and the fragment just quoted, in that Crates is here seen as providing dainty snacks rather than substantial meals. But the ostensibly approving attitude still, as before, barely conceals the sneering tone. Here it is the 131

The Comedian as Critic cheapness of Crates’ cooking that is emphasized, while it is implied that Aristophanes’ own comedy, by contrast, is more expensive to prepare (and thus aimed at the upper end of the market). In all these passages the ‘ideal’ or ‘target’ audiences of the respective comedians are being subtly differentiated in terms of social strata – and the metaphor of taste is ideally suited to this task. Whatever our precise interpretation of these jokes, it is clear that there is a considerable social significance to food: this is true whether we are talking about the ancient or the modern world.115 In this respect (as in many others) it is helpful to compare the insights of Pierre Bourdieu, who has shown that the notion of ‘taste’ encompasses all types of social and cultural preference. Literary taste is not a purely abstract phenomenon, even if it may be presented as such by various interested parties, but is deeply rooted in society and ideology. In his most famous work, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Bourdieu shows that the concept of ‘taste’, in food as in much else, is a complex ideological marker of the social status of the consumer, as well as a means of distinguishing ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture.116 Our choice of food, our cooking and eating habits, and the sort of things we say about food not only reveal what sort of person we are within the social hierarchy, but also correspond closely to judgements of ‘taste’ that we may express in other areas such as literature, art, fashion or lifestyle in general: Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier. Social subjects, classified by their classifications, distinguish themselves by the distinctions they make, between the beautiful and the ugly, the distinguished and the vulgar, in which their position in the objective classifications is expressed or betrayed.117

Bourdieu (whose interest in the classical world was minimal) would perhaps have maintained that the notion of cultural ‘taste’ in this sense is a product of comparatively recent history, including the development of modern capitalist economies. It is also notable that other modern literary histories of taste trace the origins of the metaphor only as far back as the last few hundred years. Denise Gigante, in her Taste: A Literary History, gives an interesting account of the metaphor as deployed by Milton and Romantic authors including Wordsworth and Keats. She acknowledges that the precise origins of the metaphor are difficult to pin down, but (like other scholars) she connects its rise to the well-documented growth of connoisseurship and sophisticated dining customs in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe.118 Neither Gigante nor anyone else makes a connection between modern aesthetics and classical literature, and it may be that there is no direct linear relationship between the two areas. All the same, the Greek and Roman critics were discussing artistic judgement in terms of ‘taste’ long before Milton, Kant or Bourdieu got there, and it appears that our fifth-century comedians were the first in a long and distinguished series of critics to make use of the metaphor in this way. 132

4. The metaphorical language of criticism It cannot be claimed that the comedians themselves developed the concept at much length, or in any real complexity or depth. Nevertheless, Bourdieu’s approach can usefully be applied to our material, and his view that ‘taste’ is a social phenomenon has suggestive consequences for our reading of comedy. The comedians themselves – like Bourdieu – seem to be drawing their audience’s attention to the connections that may be made between literary preferences, food preferences and social class. The concept of taste thus gives us a slightly different perspective on the broader issue, discussed at various points throughout this book, of the comedians’ attitude to high culture versus popular culture. I have been suggesting that some of the comedians, including Aristophanes, are writing primarily for a ‘target’ audience of sophisticated intellectuals, most of whom, inevitably, would have belonged to the elite upper classes. Those comedians who present themselves as purveyors of haute cuisine are reinforcing the impression that their work is catering for those at the top end of the social hierarchy, whatever else they may be saying (or may seem to be saying) about the criteria for judging literature. They may also be using the metaphor to imply that literary appreciation is a sort of connoisseurship – that is, a highly developed faculty or training that not everyone is capable of acquiring. Another reason why the metaphor of taste is so significant in comic criticism is that, like certain other metaphors we have discussed, it effectively obscures the main point under discussion, making objective literary judgement difficult or even impossible. If Crates (for example) wants us to think of the experience of watching his plays as like that of eating salt fish, that does not really tell us anything about the qualities of his (or his rivals’) work. People who like eating salt fish may register a preference for Crates accordingly; people who find salt fish unpalatable may prefer the work of some other comedian; those who have never eaten the stuff may still have a fairly good idea of what it is and what it signifies, or they may be completely baffled – but as for what is actually so good about Crates’ comedy compared with the rest, who can say? A further level of difficulty arises when we consider that whether or not we like eating salt fish (or turnips, or pea soup, or fancy canapés) is not simply a question of social status; it is also, to a variable degree, a matter of personal preference based on individual sensory responses. Taste is a subjective phenomenon; it cannot entirely be reduced to objective or universal rules.119 De gustibus non est disputandum, as the old cliché goes.120 The metaphor of taste more than any other metaphor used by the comedians highlights the difficulty (or even, perhaps, the undesirability) of objective literary criticism. As I have been arguing throughout, the comedian-critics are not trying to persuade us by reasoned argument; they are influencing the way we think by appealing to our subjective preferences and our sense of humour.121 The comic texts quoted so far have all been based on the idea that comedy itself is synonymous with food. This same idea is implicit in Aristophanes’ reference to ‘the cooking-pot of the didaskalos’ (Women 133

The Comedian as Critic Claiming Tent-Sites fr. 495), Hegemon’s description of himself as ‘Lentil Soup’ (fr. 1), and Callias’ comparison of one of his choruses to the bayleaves served at the end of a meal (Cyclopes fr. 7); but Cratinus made it fully explicit in his play Pylaea (fr. 182), in which the chorus announced: Here we are again, just as the old saying goes – that we’re coming as uninvited guests to the banquet of the witty theatre audience.

It is natural enough that the genre of food should itself be compared to food. Comedy’s festive nature and performance context lends itself readily to being presented in terms of a banquet. Quite aside from the plays’ content and the paraphernalia of the festival, we know that people in the audience tended to eat and drink during the performances, and we even have several references to comic actors giving out snacks to the spectators.122 Usually this sort of act is interpreted as an ingratiating strategy, or a bribe, used by authors to encourage the spectators to choose the ‘right’ winner of the contest; but it also has an additional meaning on a metaliterary level, since the distribution of free snacks is a counterpart to the act of placing a literary work before consumers. It is seldom that metaphor and reality so neatly coincide. However, the metaphor turns out to be more widely applicable: not just comedy but all genres of literature, and even authors themselves, can be ‘consumed’. Tragic poetry is repeatedly likened to food, as when (for example) Aristophanes compares Euripides and another poet in terms of their respective flavours (Old Age fr. 128), or when Telecleides (fr. 41) alleges that Socrates has provided the fuel for the fire on which Euripides is cooking up his new play; or when Archippus (fr. 28) says that the awful tragedian Melanthius has been eaten by fishes. One might also compare Aeschylus’ widely-quoted remark that his tragedies were ‘slices from Homer’s banquet’, a bon mot which probably derives from his portrayal in some lost comedy or other.123 In Aristophanes’ Gerytades (fr. 595)124 one of the characters even described a recipe for tragedy, thus taking the metaphor to an absurdly literal length: ... then ... taking a pinch of Sophocles, and ... from Aeschylus, and a whole Euripides; and on top of these ingredients, add some seasoning – but remember, seasoning not reasoning.

I have taken a liberty with the translation here, in order to try to bring out a pun in the Greek. The ‘seasoning’ in question is salt, which sometimes denotes piquancy or wit, and the original Greek ( ) is contrasting this quality with ‘chatter’, a feature which (according to Aristophanes) both characterized and marred the poetry of the wordy, rhetorically inventive Euripides.125 In this fragment one particular flavour, saltiness, is being used in an evaluative sense, as equivalent to a critical judgement on the poetry that is being ‘consumed’. Other flavours were also used in a similar sense. Bad or unpleasant writing is said to have a harsh flavour – normally 134

4. The metaphorical language of criticism either ‘bitter’ or ‘briny’, as in the case of Archilochus’ scurrilous iambics (Cratinus, Archilochus and Friends fr. 6), or the shrill choral odes of Melanthius (Birds 804-5), or the inept tragedies of Philocles, who is repeatedly lampooned in comedy for his nasty taste.126 By contrast, good writing is said to taste sweet (glukus), as when Chionides talks of the ‘sweetness’ of Gnesippus (Beggars, fr. 4); or when a character in Cratinus’ Cheirons (frr. 256-7) praises the ‘sweet words’ of a speaker; or when Aristophanes talks of Phrynichus’ ‘sweetness’ (Wasps 219-20; cf. Women at the Thesmophoria 164, Birds 748-51), or compares wellmade poetry to honey and spice (Assemblywomen 882-3). The tragedian Sophocles was repeatedly commended in antiquity for the ‘sweetness’ of his diction: a large number of ancient testimonia draw attention to his ‘bee-like’ sweetness, but it seems likely that this description goes back to Aristophanes.127 It may be that reference is being made to some aspect of Sophocles’ verbal style – this is certainly how most ancient critics and commentators interpret the description – but Aristophanes gives us very little clue whether or not this is the case. Nevertheless, it does seem that a concern with literary style (in particular) can provide a further level of significance to the comedians’ gastronomic imagery – if not invariably, then at least in certain plays and scenes. One notable work in which food seems to have functioned as a metaphor for style is Aristophanes’ lost comedy Gerytades. To judge by its fragmentary remains, this play was a literary-themed extravaganza composed along similar lines to his Frogs (which was produced just a couple of years later).128 Gerytades, like Frogs, centred on a mission to the Underworld that was undertaken in order to converse with certain dead poets; but whereas Frogs is concerned only with tragic poetry, Gerytades featured comic and dithyrambic poets as well. It also seems to have developed the literature-as-food metaphor to extraordinary lengths. Athenaeus (12.551a = Gerytades fr. 156a-b) says a little about the play’s plot, and quotes a valuable thirteen-line fragment of dialogue: And Aristophanes in Gerytades picks out these slender men, whom he describes as being sent by the poets to Hades as envoys to the poets there. A. And who has dared to descend to the pit of the dead at the gates of darkness? B. We got together, forming an assembly, and chose one representative from each poetic craft, selecting those whom we knew as having one foot in the grave and being mad keen on going to the world below. A. So there are men among you who have one foot in the grave? B. There certainly are, by Zeus! A. Rather like those people who have one foot in Thrace? B. Exactly! A. And who might these chaps be? B. First of all, from the comedians, there’s Sannyrion; then from the tragedians Meletus, and from the dithyrambists Cinesias. A. So you’re riding on slender hopes, then – why, the river of diarrhoea, if it’s in full flow, will take these men and carry them off!


The Comedian as Critic It may be significant that these three ambassadors are not exactly the most illustrious or representative practitioners of the art of poesy: Cinesias, in particular, is widely vilified in comedy (as we have already seen), while Meletus and Sannyrion have the distinct flavour of B- or C-list celebrities.129 Sannyrion himself had made fun of Meletus in his play Laughter (fr. 2), calling him ‘the corpse from the Lenaea’ – a description which may refer to his emaciated appearance or to his lack of success in some competition or other.130 Seemingly the humour in Gerytades lay partly in the fact that this was an embassy of bad poets, chosen, perhaps, in the hope that they would contrive to resurrect some genuine geniuses (as Dionysus would attempt to do in Frogs) or even to negotiate some sort of deal by which they would remain in Hades in exchange for the return to earth of the better writers. If such puny poetasters as these were to take a tumble into the river of diarrhoea – mentioned above as a likely parody of the more familiar image of water as a source of poetic inspiration – this fate may have been seen as a cruelly appropriate reflection of their worth as writers. The rest of the plot of Gerytades is obscure, but it is possible that at some point the living and dead poets were depicted as sitting down at dinner together and enjoying literary conversation and debate, rather as Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistai would do several centuries later. The dining table, after all, provides a suitable setting for the discussion of literature, quite apart from its status as a source of subject-matter and literary metaphor. This sort of context would provide a setting for such lines as fr. 161 (‘... praising Aeschylus at dinner-parties ...’) as well as explaining why there is so much focus on eating and taste in the other fragments of the play. A character is asked whether he is giving instruction in how to make gruel or lentil soup (fr. 165); there is a reference to men gaping like mullets on account of hunger (fr. 159); and some of the poets were even depicted as literally eating their own words: ‘they started eating the wax from their writing-tablets’ (fr. 163). This last fragment, which is extraordinary and without parallel, exhibits Aristophanes’ tendency to pursue a metaphor to absurdly literal lengths (just as in the ‘weighing’ of poetry in Frogs). None of this material definitely relates to style, nor is there any hint of just how poetry is to be assimilated to food, except in a very broad sense. However, another fragment (Gerytades fr. 158), like some of the texts quoted above, hints at a connection between a tragedian’s ‘flavour’ and his verbal style: A. And how might I eat Sthenelus’ words? B. You’d have to dip them in vinegar and dry salt.

Unlike other bad poets, whose work tastes foul, Sthenelus’ words lack flavour altogether. It is a striking description, even if its exact meaning is opaque – but it would be interesting to know whether or not Aristophanes staged a ‘tasting’ of Sthenelus’ work, involving the quotation and 136

4. The metaphorical language of criticism discussion of selected lines or passages. It would make a big difference if the tragedian’s alleged insipidity had been illustrated with specific examples, since this would amount to an exercise in practical criticism. As it is, we can only speculate inconclusively. However, the possibility that Gerytades was using food metaphors to explore stylistic matters is increased by the mention of fatness and thinness in a couple of the fragments. We have already mentioned the fact that ‘slenderness’ or ‘thinness’ might be used to denote a poet’s style (as in the case of certain dithyrambic poets). In this respect it is significant that Aristophanes has chosen three thin poets to go down to the Underworld – so thin, in fact, that they are described as having one foot in the grave and in danger of being swept away by the river’s current (fr. 156, above). Another of the fragments – ‘Treat him and fatten him up with monodies’ (fr. 162) – probably contains advice directed at one of these thin writers. It relates to a further function of food that we have not yet mentioned: its therapeutic use in medicine (as in the Hippocratic tradition) to cure ailments and promote bodily wellbeing. This function is evoked by Aristophanes’ Euripides (Frogs 939-44), who describes the following regime of strict diet, laxative treatment and physical exercise: As soon as I had inherited the tragic art from you, swollen with pompous words and overweight phrases, I first of all reduced its swelling and removed its excess weight with a course of bite-size phrases, walking exercises and white beetroot, applying chatter-juice strained off from books; and then I fed it up again on a diet of arias, mixing in some Cephisophon.

Here as elsewhere, Euripides is being contrasted with Aeschylus: but in this passage it is absolutely clear that a stylistic contrast is intended between Aeschylus’ ‘swollen’ and ‘overweight’ diction and a healthier, slimmed-down style. This important passage has been cited by those scholars who see its ‘fat versus thin’ distinction as mapping directly on to the dichotomy between the ‘grand’ and the ‘thin’ styles in later rhetorical theory.131 One might also add that the relationship between ‘fat’ and ‘thin’ more or less exactly mirrors the relationship between ‘old’ and ‘new’, which has such a central place among comic concerns. ‘Thinness’ and small portions are closely associated with novelty, both here and elsewhere (as in Aristophanes fr. 347 and Metagenes fr. 15, quoted above). This fact may well have a bearing on the way we evaluate the ‘thin’ style, since (as we have seen) novelty is such a problematic concept in comic poetics. We may imagine that, in the world of comedy at least, fat men write ‘fat’ verse while thin men write ‘thin’ verse (according to the principle expounded by Agathon at Thesm. 164-72, quoted above). If Aeschylus and Euripides may be regarded as exemplifying each respective style, it seems that the ‘fat’ style might incorporate prolixity and long compound words, whereas the ‘thin’ style might be more concise or closer to everyday speech. But this is not necessarily, or invariably, the meaning of the 137

The Comedian as Critic metaphor wherever it appears in comedy. Furthermore, it is not at all easy to see which style (if either) is preferable. The character ‘Euripides’ in Frogs implies that thinness is better, but the overall outcome of the poetic contest there is rather inconclusive: it does not amount to an endorsement of either ‘thin’ or ‘fat’ styles. Even though Aeschylus is declared the winner, his poetry is exposed to ridicule at least as much as that of Euripides. On the other hand, almost all the other comic references to thinness are seemingly pejorative.132 This situation provides a striking contrast with the positive connotations of thinness in later poetry and poetic theory.133 In the works of Callimachus and his imitators, in particular, thinness (leptotês) is seen as something to strive for rather than avoid.134 Callimachus uses the metaphor in several very well-known passages where he sets out his own poetic agenda, including his reply to the Telchines (Aetia fr. 1.7-12, 17-18, 21-4): ... race, who know how to eat away your own heart…of few lines, but bountiful Demeter by far outdoes the woman whom [Philitas] celebrated at length; and of Mimnermus’ two poems it is not the Large Woman, but the verses written after a slender fashion, that taught us how delightful he was. [...] Begone, you baneful race of Jealousy – and from now on don’t judge poetry by the yard, but according to its art. [...] For when I first sat down with a writing tablet on my knees, Lycian Apollo said to me: ‘My dear Poet, feed up your sacrificial victim to be as fat as possible, but keep your Muse slender ...’

Here the metaphor of ‘slenderness’ (a better translation in this context since it has more positive overtones than ‘thinness’) is combined with the imagery of food and eating in order to make a polemical point about literary aesthetics. The same point underlies certain other Callimachean fragments, including fr. 398 (where the poet criticizes a rival’s book as ‘both fat and obscure’) and the famous fr. 465 (‘a big book is a big evil’ – ). Callimachus is not talking about precisely the same thing as Aristophanes. He seems to be concerned primarily with literary form, in the specific sense of the length of poems (or books of poems) rather than their style as such. Nevertheless, it seems clear that what we are used to calling the ‘Callimachean aesthetic’ may owe a considerable debt to fifth-century comedy and criticism. Discussion of the relationship between Callimachus and Aristophanes has centred mainly on the question of whether Callimachus took the motif of thinness directly from Aristophanes or whether both poets had a common source (that is, some hypothetical lost work of literary theory from the fifth-century). This question is impossible to answer definitively, but it is clear, at least, that certain people in the fifth century apart from Aristophanes were also using the metaphor of ‘thinness’. The treatment of Cinesias and other ‘thin’ dithyrambists, discussed above, is such as to suggest that the metaphor was already in the air (so to speak), and 138

4. The metaphorical language of criticism other comic poets besides Aristophanes used the same sort of language. Aristophanes’ originality may, I suggest, consist not in the fact that he was the first to use the metaphor of thinness, but that he was the first to link it to comedy’s pervasive interest in food and drink, in works such as Gerytades and Frogs. What Callimachus seems to have done, as Neil Hopkinson puts it in his commentary on the Aetia fragment, is to transform the comedian’s ambivalent or ludicrous use of this imagery into a more serious and committed statement of literary belief, making it into ‘a triumphant apologia for the “new poetics”’,135 rather than an elaborate joke. The difference between the Callimachean and the Aristophanic approaches to metaphor can tell us a lot about the nature of comic criticism more generally. * As I said at the beginning of this chapter, the metaphorical language of comic criticism represents a sprawling, unruly system of discourse, which militates against one’s desire to provide neat-and-tidy conclusions or overarching theories. The only general patterns that seem to emerge from this mass of material are, firstly, a predominant (but far from consistent) concern with matters of style, and, secondly, a recurrent ambivalence or ambiguity in the manner of presentation. Far from formulating a clear set of criteria for the judgement of literature, the comedians are, it seems, being deliberately obscure and hard to pin down. This is precisely what we should expect of comedy – it’s supposed to be funny, after all, not a sober exposition of intellectual concepts. As with other literary-critical ideas in comedy, the presentation of literary metaphors is ludic and paradoxical. It normally seems to take the form of a parodic distortion of ideas that would already have been familiar to many of the audience (either from their pre-existing general knowledge of poetry or their technical knowledge of ‘theory’), but it seldom actually ‘makes sense’ on its own terms. The lack of external evidence (apart from comedy) for fifth-century literary theories means that one has to keep an open mind about the nature and content of such sources and about the extent of the comedians’ distortion of serious ideas. Any attempts to reconstruct the ‘serious’ versions of these theories that the comedians are borrowing and transforming into humour must be seen as speculative and provisional, but I hope to have shown that some tentative conclusions are possible. As for the question of whether or not the comedians are saying anything in particular about the material they treat, this is more difficult to answer. In general, as I have been arguing throughout this book, the tone and purpose of any joke may be seen as ‘critical’ in either a strong or a weak sense. It may be that the comedians are trying to make us reflect critically before using hackneyed metaphors or clichés; it may be that they are to be seen as polemically rejecting this sort of language, exposing its inherent ambiguity or uselessness. But they do not seem to 139

The Comedian as Critic be suggesting anything constructive to replace the existing language of criticism – that is, unless their most original contribution to the debate, their development of culinary metaphors, is meant to be a serious alternative to these other well-worn systems of imagery. On the whole, I rather think not; but I am quite prepared to be proved wrong.



The comedian as reader We have spent a lot of time examining the things that comedians say about poetry in general or abstract terms, and trying to understand the claims they make – or seem to be making – about their own poetry. In this final chapter we shall look more closely at the comedian as a reader of other people’s work. My use of the word ‘reader’ in this context is quite deliberate. The comedians are ‘readers’ in the sense that they are interpreting, processing and responding critically to other literary works. Indeed, fifth-century comedy constitutes an important early stage in the reception history of tragedy and other poetry. However, as will already be clear from earlier chapters, I also want to see the comedians as ‘readers’ in another, more literal sense – they are readers of books of poetry, writing for other such readers. Many of our comedians, I believe, saw themselves as producing works that could be enjoyed not just as one-off performances in the theatre, but also as texts, to be read, consulted and dipped into at leisure long into the future (albeit by a relatively small circle of well-educated bibliophiles). One of the reasons why the comedians’ treatment of ideas about poetry is so distinctive, and so difficult to interpret, is that it emerges from the tension between these divergent views of ‘readership’. What did it mean to be a producer or consumer of poetry, and how should poetry be analysed or evaluated, in a world which was not just a ‘performance culture’ but also, increasingly, a ‘reading culture’? The comedians are reflecting, and provocatively contributing to, a lively current debate about these questions. They do not supply us with obvious answers, but – as I have been trying to show throughout this book – Aristophanes and many of his contemporaries can be seen as leaning heavily towards the idea of a reading culture, and adopting ways of looking at literature that are based on specifically textual, literary values. And, as I have already pointed out, the playwrights’ attitude to the dramatic competitions is likely to have been affected by the possibility that, whether or not they pleased the judges on the day of performance, their works could still be read and enjoyed by a significant number of people. Some Hellenists are resistant to the notion that fifth-century literature can be understood in terms of books and readers.1 In part this is due, no doubt, to the fact that different sub-disciplines within classical scholarship tend to develop their own distinct ways of talking about their material, which over time set and harden into a kind of received wisdom or orthodoxy. Latinists and scholars of Hellenistic literature are normally quite happy to talk about books,2 but many people who specialize in classical Greek 141

The Comedian as Critic drama and poetry prefer to cling to the notion of ‘performance culture’ (a phrase which recurs with monotonous frequency in recent publications). Of course, the concept of ‘performance culture’ can be a very useful one in certain contexts, and it has led to numerous insights and fresh readings of (for example) early lyric poetry and its socio-cultural setting.3 But, as I have already observed, ‘performance culture’ is a construct of modern scholarship; it represents just one type of attempt to get to grips with a period in history for which we have (let’s face it) almost no evidence.4 If one is firmly committed to the idea that fifth-century Athens was a performance culture, it is perhaps easy to assume that it was a performance-only culture, or that to talk about books and texts is somehow anachronistic. But these assumptions would be mistaken. The fact is that texts and performances existed side by side.5 Comic drama (not to mention other literary and artistic evidence from the period) contains plenty of references to books, showing that they were an increasingly familiar feature of modern life, even if (predictably) people’s attitudes to them were often somewhat uncertain.6 There remain lots of crucial gaps in our knowledge, to be sure, regarding the precise extent of literacy among Athenian citizens, the practical business of book-production, the nature of ‘publication’, the number of people who owned books, the existence of libraries and private book-collections, and so on.7 But the fact remains that books were an important part of the old comedians’ cultural world, and the very existence of books implies the separability of poetry from its performance context. The new medium of the written text was responsible for changing people’s conception of the nature of authorship, of readership, and of literary criticism. Some of the best evidence for this process of change can be seen in fifth-century comedy itself. What matters most is not what the comedians say about texts, but how they use texts – the way in which their plays are put together, and the demands they make of their readers. The comedians were not the only writers of this period whose work was heavily influenced by this emerging culture of reading. A number of their contemporaries were interested in literary works qua texts – their content, their style and diction, their interpretation, their history and authorship, and their relation to other texts – in isolation from their performance context. Such authors wrote down their researches in book form (and in books of a sort that, presumably, were designed to be read and consulted by other bibliophiles, rather than recited in public).8 Predictably, the work of these writers is represented only by scrappy fragments and titles, but enough survives to give us a fairly good idea of this early stage in the history of classical scholarship.9 For instance, several writers compiled literary biographies or collections of anecdotes about poets: Damastes of Sigeum wrote a book On Ancient Poets and Sophists; Hecataeus wrote a book On Poetry; Stesimbrotus of Thasus wrote several works on Homer and other poets, as well as biographies of Themistocles, Thucydides and Pericles; and the polymath Ion of Chios wrote a book called Travels (Epidemiai) containing anecdotes about contemporary writers and other 142

5. The comedian as reader famous men.10 Hippias, who may have been the first writer to use the term archaiologia for the study of antiquity, also made an anthology of the works of early Greek poets including Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod and Homer.11 There are many signs of a growing interest in what we would nowadays call close reading (that is, a detailed attention to ‘the words on the page’ and to matters of interpretation and style), and, in particular, a concern with ‘correctness’ in both form and content. Perhaps the clearest example of such an approach is preserved by Socrates’ close reading of Simonides in Plato’s Protagoras (338e-347c), though this eccentric ‘interpretation’ has itself proved rather difficult to evaluate.12 Several of the sophists and other writers were concerned with interpreting the text of the Homeric poems, including the correction of perceived factual errors: Protagoras, Antisthenes, Hecataeus, Stesimbrotus, Antimachus and Metrodorus of Lampsacus are all important in this respect, and Antisthenes even wrote what looks like a metacritical work On the Interpreters of Homer.13 However, the main preoccupation of many of these early scholars seems to have been correctness in diction ( or ), or literary style in a more general sense. Protagoras and Prodicus are well known for their interest in such matters, as is Democritus, the author of a work On Homer or On the Correct Use of Language and Unusual Words ( ); but Antisthenes’ book On Style ( ), which both analysed and mimicked a variety of voices and stylistic registers, is particularly interesting to contemplate in the light of comedy.14 The features to which these writers drew their readers’ attention are not all exclusively textual, of course, but it is important to stress that their whole approach to literature depends on the close and detailed study of poetry. The use being made of literature, and the type of activity required of the studious reader, is different from the experience of poetry in performance. It is all the more striking, then, to see that all of the concerns of these early literary scholars are directly reflected (or refracted) in the way that the comedians read texts. 5.1. The literature of erudition In general, the texture of comedy is characterized by what we might call literariness.15 By ‘literariness’ I mean the degree to which these comedies are shaped by their relationship to other literary works; the huge and detailed knowledge of poetry which they display; the extent of their selfconsciousness and their intertextual complexity; the sheer number of quotations and adaptations that they incorporate; the relative obscurity of many of their allusions; their intricate, ‘scholarly’ attention to detail, including matters of style; their explicit interest in literary history; the fact that many scenes consist of a patchwork of excerpts from numerous disparate works of different types and dates; the prevalence of parody and pastiche – all of these features seem to point towards a new sort 143

The Comedian as Critic of conception of literature. At any rate, the ‘literariness’ of comedy is significantly different (in degree and in its very nature) from anything that we might term allusive or intertextual activity in earlier Greek poetry.16 One of the best surviving examples of comedy’s literariness is Aristophanes’ Frogs. As we have already observed, this is a markedly ‘palimpsestic’ text, incorporating literally dozens of quotations, parodies and other allusions.17 But Frogs is certainly not unique in this respect.18 Old comedy in general quotes and alludes to a remarkably wide range of authors, texts and genres. Tragic poetry is the most common source, as well as the most obvious choice (partly because it belonged to the same festival as comedy and shared many of its formal features). But Homeric epic is also prominent, as in the fragments of Cratinus’ Odysseus and Friends, Aristophanes’ Banqueters, Hermippus’ Fates and Birth of Athena, and various other comedies. Particularly interesting fragments include the remains of Hermippus’ Porters, which contained a lengthy pastiche of the Homeric-style catalogue (fr. 63), Eupolis’ Golden Race, featuring an argument with a rhapsode (fr. 309), and also Platon’s Phaon, which contained a hexameter parody of Homer in the form of a cookery book (fr. 189): this last comedy has been identified as the first surviving example of the ‘epicizing gastronomic literature’ that was to blossom during the fourth century and later.19 Lyric poets were frequently being quoted or parodied, including Pindar, Archilochus, Simonides, Alcaeus, Anacreon, Clitagora, Lasus, Stesichorus and others.20 Certain comedians based entire plays on individual poets and their works: for example, Telecleides’ Hesiods and Cratinus’ Archilochus and Friends. And even prose authors might be featured from time to time – such as Aesop, Gorgias and Herodotus.21 Thus it can be seen that comedy, in effect, was providing its readers with a fairly extensive compendium of texts – an eccentric sort of annotated anthology (as it were) of Greek literature. All of these quotations and allusions can reveal a good deal of information about the comedians and their target audience. For instance, the relationship between citation, knowledge and authority is scrutinized in a suggestive essay by Simon Goldhill.22 It is argued persuasively by Goldhill that comedy, alongside other types of ‘epigonal’ literature, is using quotation to make a claim to authority in two ways: first, by displaying extensive knowledge and mastery of the literature, and secondly, by challenging the cultural status or the specific content of the texts quoted. This explanation seems particularly appropriate when we look at comedy’s widespread use of tragedy. The comedians quote tragedy, it seems, in order to demonstrate their literary and cultural credentials – to show us that they are writers to be taken seriously (rather like scholars who write commentaries on authoritative or classic texts, in fact).23 But at the same time, they are implicitly suggesting that the lesser or ‘low’ genre of comedy may be viewed as a rival to the ‘high’ genre of tragedy in terms of cultural prestige and influence.24 The comedians do not simply quote tragedy; they also criticize it, and assail its dignity 144

5. The comedian as reader by making jokes about it – and for a comedian to treat a tragedian in this way implies a reversal of the normal hierarchy of the genres. This stance has been seen by another recent scholar (following Bakhtin) as embodying a ‘carnivalesque’ reversal of status, of a type that is perhaps characteristic of comedy in general.25 But claims to authority represent only one aspect of the cultural politics of quotation. Even more important, perhaps, is the comedians’ relationship with their audience, a relationship which is negotiated partly through shared knowledge and recognition of literary texts. Comedy not only provides a virtuoso display of literary knowledge; it also presupposes a similar level of knowledge on the part of the reader (or ‘audience’) if its complete effect is to be realized. This brings us to one of the most important aspects of comic literariness – parody, or (to put it another way) ‘the comic refunctioning of pre-formed linguistic or artistic material’.26 Aristophanic parody has been much easier to identify and to talk about since Peter Rau published his painstaking analytical survey of the evidence, Paratragodia (1967), and several recent studies have further refined our understanding of the phenomenon.27 Nevertheless, it has not always been acknowledged how prevalent parody was in the work of the other old comedians,28 and the precise significance of parody has not always been well understood (at least, as regards its literary-critical stance toward the text parodied). In particular, theoretical discussions have often centred largely on the evaluative aspect of parody – that is, the degree of negativity, subversion or ridicule detected towards the ‘target’ (sic) of the parody.29 As I see it, the question of evaluation is of relatively little importance when it comes to understanding parody in old comedy. The important thing about most parody is that it is inherently ambivalent towards its source (not ‘target’).30 Except in a minority of cases, it is not normally possible to say for certain whether parody is ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ in its implied judgement of the source-text, or indeed whether its purpose is to evaluate the source-text at all. Since all parody, essentially, depends on exaggeration of features that are already present, it is inevitable that parody of bad writing will often seem hostile, while parody of good writing is likely to seem more affectionate. But in fact nearly every parody in old comedy is capable of being read, depending on the reader’s own opinions, as either an hommage or a satirical hatchet-job: this is certainly the case with (for example) Euripides’ notorious portrayal in the comedies of Aristophanes. It is possible to laugh at parody whether or not one admires the text being parodied. This ambivalence is a significant feature of parody not least because it mirrors the overall outlook of the comedian as critic: comedy (as we have been arguing throughout this book) tends to be indeterminate and ironic rather than provide definitive messages or meanings. Parody reveals more about the parodist and his readers than about the thing parodied. For the reader, the pleasure of parody (along with other types of quotation) lies partly in one’s identification of the source145

The Comedian as Critic text, and also in realizing that the parodist, like oneself, knows his texts inside-out and has somehow got the point of them – that is, he has pinpointed with pleasing precision some essential characteristic of style or content. Parody, whatever else it may be, is primarily an act of communication, or collusion, between author and reader: it depends on a community of individuals who know the same material and are in on the joke. In the words of Mikhail Bakhtin, whose essay on parody (in The Dialogic Imagination) remains perhaps the most acute analysis of the topic, parody is ‘the literature of erudition’, which derives its energy and meaning from shared knowledge and recognition. Parody, Bakhtin argues, is significant in terms of literary history not because of what it says about the source text but because of the special type of ‘literary and linguistic consciousness’ it embodies, and the relationship it constructs between the author, the audience and the text.31 We shall return to the subject of parody later on (§5.3); but in the meantime, all of these considerations prompt an important question: how many people were able to identify the parodies and get the point of all the jokes? Like many important questions surrounding fifthcentury literature, this one is impossible to answer with any certainty. Nevertheless, the level of complexity and detail that we see in the comedians’ use of intertextuality and parody suggests to me that we need to distinguish between the mass theatre audience and a smaller, more specialized ‘target’ audience. It is fairly clear, at least, that the comedians had access to a library of texts when writing their plays. This has been recognized by (among others) Nick Lowe, in an excellent article about the ‘bookish’ character of Aristophanes’ work. As Lowe points out, the type of parody we see in Aristophanes’ plays (including, in particular, verbatim quotation of non-contiguous lines and half-lines from numerous diverse sources) depends on detailed consultation of texts by the author.32 It may be, naturally, that playwrights are more likely than other sorts of people to have access to texts, but it is equally clear that a high level of knowledge and recall would be required in order for someone else to appreciate their work properly. Even though many of the references and in-jokes would come across clearly enough in performance, and even though some of the parodies are explicitly identified, the full complexity would emerge only in the course of slow, leisurely reading (and re-reading) of texts. These considerations seem strongly to imply that the comedians are writing for a ‘target’ audience of bibliophiles. Those who prefer to see the comedians as men of the people, writing plays designed to appeal to the broadest possible spectrum of public taste, will find it difficult to square this with the dauntingly complex literariness of their work. Either they will have to suppose that everyone in fifth-century Athens really was a bibliophile (as Aristophanes jokily suggests in the chorus of Frogs),33 or they will have to suppose that the people in the theatre audience would have been able to spot all the allusions without recourse to texts. This latter position is adopted by several scholars,34 in whose eyes the Athenian public was a more or less 146

5. The comedian as reader homogeneous group of people, all of whom possessed exceptionally welldeveloped cultural antennae, an exquisite sensitivity to poetry, and (most crucially of all) a photographic memory that would have given them total, permanent recall of every word of poetry that they had ever heard. I think that such an assumption, based as it is on a rose-tinted view of the Athenian dêmos, is extremely unrealistic. One of the most crucial facts to be borne in mind is that during the time of old comedy poetry would normally have been linked to a specific performance context and not widely reperformed outside that original context. In particular, tragedies and comedies were seldom repeated (if they were ever given a second performance at all).35 There is a little evidence that certain plays of Aeschylus were being revived towards the end of the fifth century, but exact details are lacking.36 Even when, in the fourth century, the major festivals started to include revivals of old plays alongside new works (from 386 BC in the case of tragedy and 339 in the case of comedy), there must have been hundreds of forgotten works that never got a second airing. Perhaps there will have been small-scale revivals of certain plays at the rural festivals, recitations of ‘highlights’, performances of some of the better-known choruses and monodies at symposia and other private occasions, and so on; but in effect most Athenians would see a play once and once only. Sometimes the works quoted or parodied by comedians would have been relatively fresh in the audience’s minds – as when, for example, Aristophanes in Women at the Thesmophoria (411 BC) parodied Euripides’ tragedies Helen and Andromeda (from 412) and Palamedes (from 415). But more often the source texts were years or even decades old – as in the case of Euripides’ Telephus, first produced in 438 BC but still being parodied extensively in 425 (Acharnians), 411 (Women at the Thesmophoria), and even 405 (Frogs). Was the average spectator capable of retaining in his memory every single detail of every performance that he had attended over a whole lifetime? Probably not. Let us look in a little more detail at some of the different ways in which quotation is deployed in comedy. As we have already observed, comedy is full of verbatim quotation from other poets (especially tragic poets). Sometimes this quotation involves parody, sometimes not. The comedians sometimes quote striking or memorable verses, but just as often they quote rather unremarkable phrases, verses or half-verses which are not explicitly signalled as such. Non-parodic, ‘embedded’ quotations of this sort do not usually stand out from their context, and very often do not seem to have a ‘point’, except to test the reader’s knowledge and recognition. Sometimes the choice of quotation is thematically appropriate to the comic setting (as in Frogs, where some of the ‘embedded’ quotations are taken from tragedies about the underworld or embassies),37 but more often the choice of text seems irrelevant or random. For example, when Eupolis in Demes (fr. 99.35-6) made Aristides address Athens in tragic style (‘Greetings, o land of my fathers ...’), how many people would have realized that he was quoting Diomedes’ opening 147

The Comedian as Critic words from Euripides’ Oeneus (fr. 558)? Even if a few attentive readers recognized the quotation, there is no obvious similarity between Diomedes’ and Aristides’ situations, and it seems that nothing much would have been added to their interpretation of the scene in Demes. Similarly, why does a character in Phrynichus’ Satyrs (fr. 48) quote an unexceptional phrase verbatim from Sophocles’ Peleus (‘Then I shall utter the highpitched cry!’ = Peleus fr. 491)? Why does a straightforward description of a journey up to town in Alcaeus’ Comitragedy (fr. 19) paraphrase a passage from Euripides’ Orestes?38 Why does Aristophanes’ Trygaeus begin his first appearance by quoting a random verse from Sophocles’ Ajax (‘O Zeus, whatever are you planning to do to these people?’ Peace 62 = Ajax 585)? Why does the Paphlagonian in Knights (140-52) gratuitously insert verses from three unrelated Euripidean tragedies into his conversation with the Sausage-Seller?39 (One could give many more examples of this sort of thing.) The pleasure of these jokes (such as they are) seems to lie solely in spotting the allusions; but even the bookish would have had to be extraordinarily alert to pick up many of these references. Several Aristophanic parodies are ostensibly based on a single specific source (which is explicitly identified) but also contain a number of shorter, ‘embedded’ quotations from a variety of other sources (which are not identified).40 Again, these extra quotations do not seem to add very much to the meaning of the comic scenes, and perhaps one would not miss very much if one failed to spot any of them, but there would have been an extra level of humour available to those who were capable of spotting the references and in-jokes. For example, the extended parody of Euripides’ Bellerophon in Peace (58-161) also includes snippets from Euripides’ Aeolus and Stheneboea, not to mention a reference to a fable of Aesop;41 the parody of Telephus in Women at the Thesmophoria (689758) also incorporates material from Hippolytus and perhaps other tragic sources;42 a short scene of tragic-style dialogue between Iris and Peisetaerus in Birds (1232-56) is a mash-up of assorted quotations from at least six tragedies by three or more different playwrights – and so on.43 In some of these cases, perhaps, it would be possible to argue that a certain amount of depth or nuance was being generated through the contrast between the dramatic situation in the source-text (if the reader was able to recall it) and the new comic context. But, given the number of different characters and situations being evoked in rapid succession by these multiple quotations, it is difficult to see how readers would have been able to make this sort of interpretative leap (and it would have been even more difficult for a theatre audience in the middle of a live performance, without pause for reflection). It would be going too far, I think, to claim that these comedies were written exclusively for literary connoisseurs. Even if some of this material did go over the heads of many people, it is sometimes possible to identify different levels of humour and accessibility at work simultaneously, providing something for everyone. In some of the examples just mentioned, there would have been a basic sort of humour, at least, to be derived from 148

5. The comedian as reader the incongruity of tragic language and sentiments in a comical situation. But sometimes we can also imagine additional, less basic responses based on partial recognition, even if the precise details were missed. Aristophanes in Wasps, for instance, quotes a couple of phrases from Euripides’ Theseus in the course of a parodic scene of lamentation (30916). Here a young child cries to his parent, who has been bewailing the lack of money to buy food: ‘Why then, wretched mother, didst thou bear me?’44 In Euripides’ play the words were uttered by a child who was about to be eaten by the Minotaur, whereas in the comedy this child’s situation is rather more trivial. Perhaps even the bookworms in the audience would have found this joke relatively obscure; at any rate, this unremarkable line is probably not the sort of quotation that would be recognized by the average spectator, even if Theseus had been produced relatively recently. Still, even those spectators who had not read Euripides would have been able to tell that the line is ‘tragic’ in style and language, and they would have been able to appreciate the disparity between high style and absurd context (as well as the incongruity of a child calling his father ‘mother’!). This disparity is emphasized by the chorus-leader’s silly, deflating answer to the child’s pathetic question (313), and the insertion of a further parodic quotation from Euripides (313-14 ≈ Theseus fr. 386). Once again, even if not everyone caught the specific allusion to Euripides, they would still have been able to derive humour from the insertion of the down-to-earth word (‘knapsack’ or ‘lunchbox’) in the middle of a high-flown, recognizably ‘tragic’ passage. The brief, mangled quotations at Wasps 756-7 are comparable in type: were either ‘Hasten, my soul!’ or ‘Give way, thou shadowy ...’45 really sufficiently striking phrases to prompt the recognition of the average audience member? Probably not – in fact, the source of the first of these quotations has never been identified – but it is still possible to see the humour as operating on several different levels simultaneously. Clever readers will have taken pleasure in identifying the precise quotation and noting the absurd dissimilarity between the tragic and comic contexts. However, the most basic level of humour, open to many more people, derives from the over-literal treatment of an obviously poetic phrase: Philocleon, having addressed his soul, suddenly breaks off to ask, bathetically, ‘Where is my soul?’ A further level would have been added for those who were able to recognize apostrophe of one’s own soul, heart or body parts as being a familiar tragic device in general, even if they missed the specific source of the quotation.46 The comedians do sometimes give their readers (or theatre audiences) a bit of help in identifying quotations, especially in places where the joke would be absolutely lost if the audience did not recognize the source.47 Sometimes they go out of their way to name the author and text explicitly. It is interesting to note that Aristophanes very deliberately names all the Euripidean tragedies parodied in Women at the Thesmophoria, even though at least some of these plays were less than a year old: he obviously wants to make sure that no one misses the broad point of what is going 149

The Comedian as Critic on. Similarly, Strattis in Phoenician Women (fr. 50) seems to have told his audience explicitly that he was parodying Euripides’ play of the same name (‘[I’m going] to parody his tragedy myself’ – incorporating the earliest extant occurrence of the verb ). But this helpful labelling is comparatively rare, and more often the authors make their readers work hard. Sometimes the poet’s name is given but not the title of the work, as when Peisetaerus in Birds (807-8) says: ‘To quote Aeschylus, we are likened to these creatures “not by other people but by our own feathers”’ – this is actually a rather obscure quotation from Myrmidons (fr. 139). Elsewhere (Women at the Thesmophoria 193-4) ‘Agathon’ is made to quote a verse of Alcestis before asking Euripides: ‘Did you once write that?’ Euripides replies in the affirmative, but still does not identify the play. Similarly, in Lysistrata (188-9) another quotation is introduced with the tantalizing formula ‘as it says somewhere in Aeschylus’ ... but of course Aristophanes knows very well where the verse is to be found. In Women at the Thesmophoria (331-432), and again in Frogs (1077-82), several Euripidean plots are evoked without being named, and the reader is obliged to decipher a series of oblique and comically distorted plotsummaries and allusions.48 Sometimes there might be an additional joke based on the (deliberate or accidental) misattribution of a verse, which would be funny only to those who could name the real author – as when a line of Sophocles’ Electra is misattributed to Euripides (at Lysistrata 369); or when a character in Aristophanes’ Heroes (fr. 323) seemingly credits Euripides with a bon mot from Sophocles’ Locrian Ajax; or when a character in Eupolis’ Taxiarchs (fr. 268) asks: ‘Is this not a line from Sophocles?’ In all these passages the humour revolves around knowledge and identification: often the specific content of the verses quoted is almost irrelevant. Quotation-spotting (for its own sake) has become a central and indispensable part of the act of reading. 5.2. Autonomous and gnomic quotations Not all of the verses quoted by the comedians would have been obscure or undetectable. Some of them will have been better known to the public – not, perhaps, because people identified them as belonging to any particular poem or play, but because these verses had taken on a life of their own. Certain lines of poetry, or certain phrases, seem to have become famous (owing to some striking expression or notorious sentiment, as it might be), while other verses seem to have assumed an autonomous status as quotations – proverbs, adages, mottoes, witty one-liners and so on – in isolation from the context of their original utterance. The comedians, by incorporating such verses into their plays, are perpetuating their status as ‘quotations’,49 but in certain places they can also be seen as providing an implicit critique of excerption as a reading practice. Sometimes it is impossible to say whether a particular source-text is being evoked by the quotation of a well-known line or phrase. This is so in the case of (for instance) the phrase ‘A big ox might sit on [sc. my tongue]’, 150

5. The comedian as reader which we encounter in Strattis fr. 72 (from an unknown play). This could be a deliberate allusion to the monologue at the beginning of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon (36-7), where the Watchman says: ‘A big ox is sitting on my tongue’ (meaning that he is inhibited from speaking his mind). Alternatively, it could be that both authors are independently using the same proverbial phrase (which also appears in Theognis):50 without the full text of Strattis’ play, it is hard to decide which explanation is better. It is similarly difficult to tell whether the phrase ‘O city, city! ...’, found in Eupolis (Cities fr. 219.2) and Aristophanes (Acharnians 27) is a deliberate quotation from Sophocles’ Oedipus the King (629), or just a tragic-sounding exclamation that was widely used in times of trouble.51 And what about the rousing exhortation, ‘O forlorn citizens, hearken to my words!’ (Archilochus fr. 109), which is quoted directly by Cratinus (The Wine-Flask fr. 211) and Aristophanes (Peace 603-4, with one word altered), and also echoed by Eupolis (fr. 392)? In general, it may be that longer phrases, when reproduced verbatim, are more likely than shorter expressions or paraphrases to be quotations (as such); and if a phrase is used by several different authors, this also may increase the likelihood of its being a quotation rather than an everyday expression – but one cannot be entirely confident that this is the case. However, we are on safer ground with more distinctive formulations such as ‘My tongue swore, but my heart remains unsworn’ (Euripides, Hippolytus 612), which clearly gained a wide notoriety as a ‘famous line’, but never lost its connection with its author, since it was often quoted as if it constituted evidence of Euripides’ own unorthodox religious views. Aristophanes quoted this line on at least three occasions, as did many other writers in antiquity.52 Another notorious Euripidean line seems to have been ‘What is shameful, if it seemeth not so to those who do it?’ (Aeolus fr. 19), originally spoken by Macareus in defence of his having raped his own sister. Aristophanes quotes the lines in the context of a discussion of tragedy’s moral influence on society (Frogs 1475; cf. 1081), as did various essayists and compilers of anthologies in later antiquity;53 and once again (as with the Hippolytus verse) it is clear that the line is being used as ‘evidence’ of Euripides’ own depravity. In the same scene of Frogs, Aristophanes also cites another famous couplet from Euripides’ Polyidus: ‘Who knows whether life is death, and death is life? ...’ (fr. 638). First of all Aristophanes makes Aeschylus paraphrase the sentiment (1077-82: ‘What evils has Euripides not caused ... by saying that life is not life?’), and later on he makes Dionysus quote the lines verbatim, but with a silly ending tagged on: ‘Who knows whether life is death, and breathing is eating, and sleeping is a woolly fleece?’ (1478). As Alan Sommerstein notes in his commentary, the point of adding these ludicrous questions may be to imply that Euripides’ original question was equally ludicrous. Even if this is not so, it is clear that Euripides was notorious for his characters’ paradoxical views on life and death. Another memorable Euripidean line on a similar theme (‘Why could you not let the dead be dead?’, 151

The Comedian as Critic Melanippe Captive fr. 507) was quoted by Eupolis in Demes (fr. 99.102). Whether or not we choose to see the comedians as criticizing Euripides’ ideas, the humour in all these instances depends on the quotations being widely recognized and generally perceived as extraordinary in some way. However, it is also clear that Aristophanes, in Frogs and Women at the Thesmophoria, is choosing to treat these striking lines as if they neatly summed up the personal beliefs of their author. This does not mean that he really believed this to be true. Yet it is clear that many readers of tragedy did believe that a poet’s opinions, intentions, and even biographical details could be directly located in their work (a tendency which we have already discussed in an earlier chapter). It is only in comparatively recent history that scholars have become reluctant to talk in such terms. In antiquity this seems to have been the normal mode of critical enquiry: to discover ‘what the author (really) meant’.54 Indeed, the tragedians must have written their works in the full expectation that their audiences and readers would interpret them along these lines – a point which is worth stressing. However, ancient readers’ attempts to identify or interpret the poets’ views tend to strike us as decidedly cackhanded or naïve.55 It seems to me that the way in which Aristophanes plays around with the issue of Euripides’ beliefs and his supposed influence on society implies that he is actually poking fun at this sort of simplistic, intentionalist approach to interpretation, just as he undermines the concept of authorial voice and authority in other ways as well (see Chapter 1). The vendor of religious knick-knacks who complains that Euripides has put her out of business by making everyone into an atheist; the woman who moans that Euripides has permanently ruined the reputation of women in Athens; the rival tragedian who claims that everyone is going to start committing incest after watching plays such as Stheneboea and Aeolus – these are all silly caricatures and exaggerations, representing the sort of response that one might expect from an unusually imperceptive reader.56 All the same, readers from the earliest times were used to treating tragedy as, among other things, a repository of wisdom or moral authority. In this respect, the most striking type of autonomous ‘quotation’ seen in comedy is the maxim (gnômê), a distinct type of utterance which is very often encountered in tragedy and elsewhere: Ah, how well the old saying puts it: a good son will never be born to a bad father. It is a simple story: there’s no need for fine speech. Eloquence is an awful thing if it can bring harm. A young man should always act boldly. No man achieves glory through indolence; no, it is hard work that begets manly prowess.57

Verses of this type are notable for their convenient excerptability: they 152

5. The comedian as reader easily lend themselves to being quoted out of context, in the guise of seemingly self-contained gobbets of traditional wisdom or general advice for life. The Euripidean examples just quoted are all taken from the Eclogae of John of Stobi: this work, to which we owe the preservation of many fragments of lost tragedies, is an anthology of maxims dating from nearly a thousand years after Euripides was writing. (It is significant that these maxims are almost invariably taken from tragedy – a sign, no doubt, of this genre’s perceived status as a didactic medium.) Many other such collections of ‘quotations’ existed in later antiquity, and their place in the history of scholarship has been widely discussed;58 but it is clear that even in the fifth century BC the readers of tragedy were already used to quarrying the plays for their perceived insights. When the comedians include gnomic quotations in their works, they are explicitly drawing our attention to this reading habit. It seems that certain tragic maxims became so familiar, even within a few years of their first airing, that they did not even have to be quoted in full. They might be referred to obliquely, or parodically altered in some way, but still remain recognizable. For example, a gnomic line from Sophocles, ‘I might as well write a woman’s oaths on water’ (fr. 811), was transformed by Philonides (fr. 7, from an unknown comedy) into ‘I might as well write the oaths of adulterers on ash’. The comic version (which incorporates a terrible joke about singeing by hot ash, supposedly a punishment for adulterers) departs quite a long way from the tragic original, but in its phrasing it is still close to the Sophoclean model, and was obviously meant to prompt recognition on the part of the reader. A similar example is found in the parabasis in Aristophanes’ Wasps, where the chorus leader says to the audience (1071-4): If any of you, observing my appearance, notices my middle, all stripy like a wasp’s, and wonders what is the point of our stings, I can easily teach him, ‘... even if he is previously a stranger to the Muse’.

The last few words here represent the second half of a famous saying from Euripides’ Stheneboea (fr. 663): ‘Love can teach a poet, then, even if he is previously a stranger to the Muse’. However, the first half of the saying was obviously unnecessary for identification purposes. The numerous other writers in antiquity who quote it (including Plato, Menander and Plutarch) also tend to omit or paraphrase part of it.59 This is clearly a quotation that has taken on a life of its own and become a general saying (or even a cliché): perhaps some of those who quoted it were unaware of its source. Often it is not quite clear how these tragic maxims are being deployed in their new context, especially when we are dealing with fragmentary material (since the gnômê may be the only portion of the text that has survived). Sometimes, no doubt, these verses will have been appropriate to the situation in which they were quoted, sometimes not. When Aristophanes in Polyidus (fr. 468) quoted a tag from Sophocles – ‘The fear 153

The Comedian as Critic of death is a lot of nonsense, since “this is a debt that all of us must pay” (Electra 1173)’ – who can say whether it was intended seriously or as part of a joke by whoever uttered it? However, in a number of cases it seems that Aristophanes is not just highlighting gnomic quotation as a general subject of interest but also implicitly questioning its validity. We have already seen the comedian’s ironical or ambivalent attitude towards the notion of ‘useful’ or didactic literature; I believe that he is also inviting his readers to question whether the meaning or message of a tragedy (if it has one at all) can really be reduced to a handful of dinky soundbites. Reading maxims separately from their dramatic context, regardless of their original speaker or situation, as if they were written with the express purpose of giving general advice, is being shown up as a crude and insensitive method of interpretation.60 This ironical, questioning attitude is seen particularly in Women at the Thesmophoria, a comedy that is known for its preoccupation with the moral content of poetry and the relationship between literature and life. In that play the character Mica, one of the women whom Euripides has (supposedly) traduced, makes the astonishing claim that no man in Athens is now willing to marry a younger wife ‘because of that line that he wrote: “Any woman who marries an elderly husband becomes his owner” (= Phoenix fr. 804)’. Of course, tragedy might well exercise some sort of influence on society, but the doggedly literal notion that a single verse from tragedy might have such a direct effect on its readers’ behaviour is self-evidently absurd. The same sort of standpoint is even more evident in the scene in which Euripides and Agathon are made to quote gnômai from their own tragedies. The way in which this is done may or may not have been meant as a rejection of the sentiment of the original words, but it certainly makes us see that a few lines or phrases taken out of context can easily be made to seem ludicrous. The first words spoken by Euripides to Agathon (Thesm. 177-8) are a gnomic quotation from his own play Aeolus (fr. 28): ‘It is the mark of a clever man, if he has a great deal to say, to be able to put it well in a few words.’ Now it is impossible to say precisely who spoke these lines originally, before they became a ‘quotation’ in their own right, but it seems likely that they were addressed by Aeolus to his children (perhaps in the course of an agôn or similar scene), and we can assume that they had a serious purpose. Here, however, their meaning is distorted for comic effect, since Euripides is using them simply to make his Relative and Agathon stop chattering and allow him to get a word in (though his choice of a quotation which alludes to ‘cleverness’ – a characteristic of Euripides himself, according to the comedians – is also part of the joke).61 Subsequently, however, when Euripides has explained that he wishes Agathon to go to the Thesmophoria and face the angry women on his behalf, Agathon responds by defensively firing off another couple of quotations (193-201): 154

5. The comedian as reader Agathon: Did you once write: ‘You enjoy gazing on the light of day; do you think your father does not?’ Euripides: I certainly did. Agathon: Don’t expect us to deal with your troubles, then; we should be mad to do so. It’s up to you to bear your own private burdens – for ‘it is right to endure one’s misfortunes through experience, not to contrive a cunning way out.’ Relative: And I suppose that you got your wide arsehole ‘through experience’, did you, rather than by anything you said? Silly bugger!

The first of these quotations is from Alcestis (691). Agathon is using Euripides’ own words against him, detecting inconsistencies between the views expressed in his plays and the attitude that he is now expressing – an interpretative technique which looks remarkably like a prototype of the later method of identifying ‘problems’ (zêtêmata) in a text,62 or even of the Aristarchean precept that ‘each author is his own best interpreter’ (Aristarchus famously advocated the principle of interpreting Homer by way of Homer, ).63 Here Euripides is being refuted by way of Euripides, based on the premise that every word written or spoken by an author can indiscriminately be treated as having equal interpretative status. According to this shaky reasoning, Euripides cannot possibly think it right for someone else to shoulder another person’s burdens, if he once wrote a line somewhere which seemed to argue the precise opposite. The identity of the speaker and the dramatic situation in Alcestis are both completely ignored: in that play, Pheres is angrily criticizing his son Admetus for asking him to die in his place, but it is of no concern to Agathon whether or not Pheres was in the right. All that matters is that the rival tragedian is choosing to treat any line written by Euripides as proof of the author’s opinions. Agathon, not content with having ‘refuted’ Euripides with his own words, adds a further gnômê of his own devising (‘it is right to endure one’s misfortunes through experience ...’).64 This maxim supports his argument very neatly. It also trips off the tongue particularly easily, given that it rhymes (a surprisingly uncommon effect in classical Greek poetry) and that it contains a strikingly Agathonian use of antithesis.65 Considered as poetry, it may seem glib or shallow, but as a smart, epigrammatic quotation, it obviously tops Euripides’ own efforts. This competitive, aggressive use of quotations is striking. Aphorisms crudely lifted from their dramatic setting are being wielded like particularly blunt weapons as one poet attempts to score points over another. It is funny to watch the tragedians mistreating their own words in this ridiculous way, but this is no doubt how some people actually did approach the text of tragedy, appropriating selected verses and distorting their meaning in an attempt to lend apparent moral authority to their own behaviour. Such people are not really readers (as such) but rather users of literature.66 In this respect, it is interesting to compare another Aristophanic character’s aggressive use of the verse from Alcestis that Agathon uses in the passage above. As Pheidippides in Clouds (1415) 155

The Comedian as Critic makes to beat up his elderly father, he recites the very same line, specially adapted for the purpose (‘The children suffer – do you think that your father shouldn’t?’), as if this somehow made his conduct less deplorable. In all these passages our attention is being drawn to the way in which certain readers use and manipulate literature for their own (sometimes questionable) ends. Authors may write whatever they like, but no matter what they were or were not trying to communicate, they are unable to control the uses to which their own work will be put. 5.3. Parody as commentary One of the most striking uses made of tragedy by the comedians is in the form of parody. Many of the quotations in comedy are parodic, but perhaps the single most revealing example of comic parody is Aristophanes’ version of Euripides’ tragedy Helen in Women at the Thesmophoria (849-928). This comedy parodies a number of other Euripidean plays as well (including Telephus, Palamedes and Andromeda), but the Helen parody is the only instance in which both the parody and the source text survive in full, allowing us to make a detailed comparison. This scene has been studied before, from a variety of angles;67 but I want to examine it specifically in the sense that it functions as a sort of thematic commentary on the Euripidean original. As so often elsewhere, it is difficult to say whether or not any negative criticism of Euripides is being implied. For Aristophanes to have based an entire comedy on Euripides and his work (just as he devoted a whole comedy to Cleon) may be a sign of how remarkably terrible he believed Euripides to be: perhaps his aim was to draw our attention to the numerous ways in which the tragedian’s work laid him open to derision. On the other hand, the parody may be seen as a highly flattering hommage from a devoted fan – it is up to us to decide. Either way, it is obvious that Aristophanes knows Euripides’ work inside out, and is able not only to mimic his style but also to pinpoint many of his characteristic themes and concepts in a remarkably perceptive way. The basic premise underlying the scene is that tragedy has the power to help one in times of distress. Euripides’ elderly Relative, having been captured and threatened with death by the vengeful women at the Thesmophoria, decides to use tragedy as an ‘escape mechanism’ ( , 765). This is obviously a variation on the widespread idea (already discussed in earlier chapters) that tragedy is a ‘useful’ genre in some sense or other. But there is also a more specific meaning to the joke. Several of Euripides’ recent plots (including Helen and the other ‘escapetragedies’ of 412 BC) centred on the rescue of vulnerable individuals from danger or distress, and the very phrase is taken from Euripides (Helen 1034; cf. Phoenician Women 890). A further level of meaning depends on the fact that the word can also denote ‘contrivance’: it is used in this sense in several places where unlikely plot twists are being highlighted, especially those involving a deus ex machina (for is also the name of the flying-machine on which the gods 156

5. The comedian as reader made their entrance at the dénouement of several tragedies).68 Perhaps, then, Aristophanes might be seen as delivering an oblique comment on Euripidean plot-construction. He would not be the only comedian to draw attention to deficiencies in other writers’ plots (an aspect of drama in which Aristotle was later to show such an intense interest).69 Platon, in Sophists (fr. 143), was probably referring to Xenocles’ contrived plots when he called him ‘the man of a dozen contrivances’ ( ),70 while Cratinus (Cleobulina and Friends fr. 92) made a character say that ‘Acestor deserves a beating, if he won’t make his plots more concise’.71 We do not have any of Xenocles’ or Acestor’s plays so as to comment on their construction, but it is true that some of Euripides’ plays have been seen (in both ancient and modern criticism) as marred by improbable developments and perfunctory endings. It seems likely, then, that Aristophanes is drawing our attention to Euripides’ unpredictable plots (whether or not he approved of them), and one notes that the Helen parody is framed at beginning and end by a pointed reference to ‘devices’. At the end of the scene, Euripides slinks away from the scene, but promises to return ‘provided that my countless mêchanai do not desert me’ (926-7). The first tragic ‘device’ that the Relative tries out is from Euripides’ Palamedes (identified by name at 769-70) – he acts out a version of this tragedy in the hope that it will somehow entice Euripides to the scene – but when this plan fails, he says (849-51): What play can I use, then, to summon him here? – I know! I shall act out his new Helen ( )! I even have some women’s clothing here all ready to wear ...

As before, Aristophanes supplies us with the title so that everyone in the audience, regardless of their prior knowledge of tragedy, will know precisely what they are watching. He also describes Helen, or its heroine, as ‘new’ – an adjective that (as we have seen) is distinctly double-edged when it appears in comedy. Is Aristophanes implicitly giving Helen the thumbs-down? Perhaps so; but the word ‘new’ also refers literally to the fact that Euripides’ version of the myth, and his characterization of Helen, departed strikingly from the traditional version found in Homer and elsewhere. This ‘new’ Helen did not abscond with Paris or cause the Trojan War; she was a good, faithful wife, who spent the duration of the war in Egypt (where she had been whisked away in a cloud by Hermes) while her phantom double caused all the trouble for the Greeks and Trojans. Unless Aristophanes’ readers (or his theatre audience) knew this background information, they would have found the scenario rather baffling, since no explanation is offered here as to what is ‘new’ about Helen, or how she has come to be in Egypt rather than Troy or Sparta. A few other versions of the Helen myth (including Herodotus and the fourth book of the Odyssey) connect her with Egypt in some way, but none seems to have contained the precise mixture of details that Euripides used in Helen.72 Nevertheless, it is the incongruity of Helen’s being in 157

The Comedian as Critic Egypt at all that Aristophanes wants to emphasize, and this aspect of the parody would have been obvious to everyone even if they had never seen or read Helen. The Relative begins by reciting the opening lines of Helen in the character of the heroine (1-3). This begins as a straight quotation, but the end of the sentence is adapted to provide a scatological punch-line: These are the fair virgin streams of the Nile, which in place of rainfall from Zeus waters the soil of Egypt’s fields with white, melting snow ...

becomes These are the fair virgin streams of the Nile, which in place of rainfall from Zeus waters Egypt’s white fields and black people with their loose bowels ...

The humour derives partly from the insertion of low humour into a serious context: this violation of what is ‘appropriate’ reminds us of the conventional restrictions on subject-matter normally observed by the different genres (tragedy, for whatever reason, avoids dealing with bodily matters). But the parody also draws our attention to an important aspect of Euripides’ play – its recurrent thematic concern with detailed geographical description, ethnographic detail and the contrast between Greeks and barbarians.73 Aristophanes, by exaggerating the emphasis on strange, exotic features, is reflecting the fact that it was comparatively unusual for a tragedian to locate a play in a barbarian land (and almost unheard-of for a tragedy to be set in Egypt). This fact is repeatedly emphasized, even in this truncated version of the play’s action: ‘Menelaus’ (i.e. Euripides) later exclaims ‘Egypt! Oh no! How far we have sailed!’ (878, a direct quotation from Helen 461). As modern scholars have often recognized, the distinctive quality of Euripides’ Helen is partly due to the fact that its plot consists of a mishmash of alternative versions of the myth, but it is also due to the play’s strangely ironical or self-conscious attitude to the mythical tradition.74 The characters in Helen often seem to doubt the reality of the odd events in which they play a part: for example, Helen, at the start of the play, recounts the story of her birth from an egg, her supposedly having two fathers (Tyndareus and Zeus), and her miraculous substitution for a phantom-double, in terms that suggest scepticism or disbelief: My father is Tyndareus; but there is a certain story that Zeus, taking the form of a swan, flew to my mother Leda and lay with her by deception, pretending to be fleeing the pursuit of an eagle – if that story is true (Helen 17-21). It is completely unheard-of for a woman, either Greek or barbarian, to give birth to a child in a white egg-shell, in which they say Leda bore me to Zeus ... (Helen 257-9).


5. The comedian as reader In general, doubt and uncertainty play a big part in Helen, not just because of Helen’s own situation and experiences, but also because Euripides uses the phantom-double motif, and the subsequent confusion about personal identity, to explore broader intellectual questions about the extent to which one can ever know what is real and what is illusory. In fact, nearly every single character in Helen is made to doubt their own identity and the evidence of their senses, and at the end of the play we never altogether find out whether this ‘new’ Helen is all that she seems to be.75 Aristophanes seems to be responding to these preoccupations in his own version of the play. There is nothing like the same level of intellectual depth or complexity as we find in Euripides, of course, but it is clear that we are being presented with a comically exaggerated, broad-brush summary (as it were) of the main themes. This ‘Helen’ is certainly not what she seems to be, despite the Relative’s efforts to disguise himself; and the action of the parody is even more baffling than that of Euripides’ play, but it is baffling for more or less precisely the same reasons. Euripides had questioned the nature of reality by asking difficult epistemological questions; Aristophanes is playing around with the idea of reality by offering us a version of the play which scarcely even pretends to be real. In their different ways, both playwrights are making us think hard about the nature of dramatic illusion, fiction, language, identity, role-playing and disguise. Aristophanes has reproduced Euripides’ overall tone of confusion and doubt very effectively (and economically) by introducing a new character, Critylla, and attributing to this character the sceptical or questioning attitude that originally came from Helen herself and the other characters in the tragedy. As ‘Helen’ delivers a monologue explaining her bizarre story, just as in the original (more or less word for word), Critylla is made to interject disbelieving comments and questions. ‘Helen’: These are the fair virgin streams of the Nile, which in place of rainfall from Zeus waters Egypt’s white fields and black people with their loose bowels ... Critylla: By Hecate Bringer of Light, you’re a wrong ’un! ‘Helen’: ... and my fatherland is not without fame: it is Sparta, and my father is Tyndareus ... Critylla: What? Who’s your father? Isn’t it Phrynondas? You’re up to no good! ‘Helen’: ... and my name is Helen ... Critylla: What, are you turning back into a woman again, before you’ve even been punished for that other female impersonation you did? (Thesm. 85563)

Critylla’s role has often been interpreted as that of a typically comic character, whose main purpose is to provide an amusing contrast with the solemnity and high linguistic register of the tragic character.76 This is quite so, and I suspect that the less sophisticated audience members would have enjoyed her interruptions purely on these terms, rather as 159

The Comedian as Critic they would have enjoyed the refreshingly matter-of-fact treatment of mythological subject-matter, the deflation of tragic pomposity, and the intrusion of an obscene pun near the end of the scene.77 But there is another level to the joke, because Critylla is functioning as an embodiment of the disbelief and confusion that permeates the whole tragedy. In that she does not trust Helen or understand anything that she says, she is mimicking the typical response of anyone who reads or watches Helen – she is, in effect, an internalized reader of the play. As the scene goes on, the Relative’s ruse seems to work, and Euripides does at last appear (in the guise of Menelaus from Helen). When the Relative spots him approaching, he cries out (869-70): ut here is something to fawn upon my heart, as it were: Do not cheat me, o Zeus, of this hope that is coming upon me!

These tragic-sounding lines are not in fact from Helen. The first is unidentifiable, and the second is a quotation from Sophocles’ Peleus (fr. 493), a play which has no obvious connection to Helen or to the present dramatic situation. Neither of these extra verses is particularly interesting or memorable,78 and it seems that Aristophanes has inserted them for no purpose except to amuse those readers who identified their source: perhaps such readers would have been tickled by the incongruity of Sophoclean lines intruding, as it were, into Euripidean territory. These are not the only intrusive quotations within the Helen scene: several other tragic lines of unknown origin are also included, some of which may belong to a specific lost source, while others may have been invented by Aristophanes himself (e.g. 872-3, 877, 881, 884-5). Euripides’ own opening line (871) is taken from Helen, but as he continues speaking he departs from the text: no doubt it is particularly hilarious to watch a tragedian forgetting his own lines. As in the original tragedy, a scene of dialogue between ‘Menelaus’ and ‘Helen’ follows, in which ‘Menelaus’, utterly bewildered, tries to find out where in the world he is: ‘Helen’: This is the palace of Proteus. Critylla: What do you mean, Proteus? She’s lying, I swear – Proteas died ten years ago! ‘Menelaus’: In what country has our boat come to shore? ‘Helen’: In Egypt. ‘Menelaus’: Egypt? Oh no! How far we have sailed! Critylla: Do you believe this accursed scoundrel when he talks such drivel? This is the Thesmophorion! ‘Menelaus’: Is Proteus himself at home, or gone abroad? Critylla: Stranger, you must still be feeling all at sea. You just heard me say that Proteas is dead, but then you ask me ‘is he at home, or gone abroad?’ ‘Menelaus’: Alas! Dead? Where is he entombed? ‘Helen’: This is his tomb right here where I’m sitting. Critylla: Go to hell! – yes, to hell with you, for daring to call an altar a tomb! (Thesm. 874-88)


5. The comedian as reader This dialogue further enhances the overall mood of confusion, but it also alludes directly to another important philosophical strand of Helen – its interest in names (and, in particular, the problematic relationship between objects and their referents).79 In fact everyone in the parody, with the exception of Critylla, is going under the wrong name (or more than one name); the names Proteus and Proteas are deliberately confused; the name of Helen’s father is given variously as Tyndareus and Phrynondas; and Critylla herself is mistakenly called Theonoe, the name of another character from Helen (897-9). Aristophanes also makes the character Critylla reprimand ‘Helen’ for calling the stage altar a ‘tomb’. This is not only another joke about the correctness (or incorrectness) of names; it also draws our attention to an oddity of stagecraft in Helen, since Euripides there did make the character Theoclymenus refer to Proteus’ tomb as an ‘altar’ (Helen 880; cf. 1165-6: ‘Greetings, monument of my father: for I buried you here by the door so that I might easily address you ...’). Those lines have in turn been read as a metatheatrical comment upon Aeschylus’ disposition of the scenery in Libation-Bearers.80 If this is so, then what we are seeing in the parody is Aristophanes reading Euripides reading Aeschylus: perhaps he is criticizing both tragedians at the same time. Nevertheless, this is a fairly recondite joke, and one assumes that not everyone would have got the point. Another, more immediately recognizable aspect of stagecraft comes under scrutiny in the final part of the parody: this time it is the ragged costumes worn by Euripidean heroes such as Menelaus, Telephus and others (a feature noted by Aristophanes in several other plays).81 At lines 906-12 ‘Helen’ recognizes ‘Menelaus’ by means of his costume – a tattered bit of sailcloth, just the same as that worn by the same character in Helen. This occurs in the course of the recognition scene – a type of tragic scene which is parodied widely not just in old comedy but also very extensively in middle and new comedy. It was said by one ancient scholar later in antiquity that recognitions (as well as other motifs such as rapes, supposititious children and so on), which were the stock-intrade of Menander, had been first developed and brought to perfection by Euripides.82 Certainly Euripides’ tragedies made much use of recognitionscenes, not just in Helen but in plays such as Ion, Auge, Danae and Iphigenia among the Taurians. However, he was far from unique in this respect: Aeschylus and Sophocles also wrote numerous scenes of the same type. This means that it is hard to say whether Aristophanes is poking fun at Euripides in particular, or whether we are meant to laugh at recognition itself (as a generic ingredient of tragedy which is not properly part of the world of comedy). The main focus of the humour here, at any rate, seems to be the exaggerated emotionalism and lack of realism that tends to characterize such scenes. When Aristophanes makes ‘Menelaus’ refer pointedly to his ‘speechlessness’ at the revelation of his wife’s identity (904), we are surely meant to recognize this as a cliché of tragic recognition scenes, exposed as such by the fact that ‘Menelaus’, far from being speechless, carries on talking volubly without a pause! (The joke is 161

The Comedian as Critic enhanced, of course, by the fact that ‘Menelaus’ is really Euripides, the most talkative person imaginable.) The humour in this parody works on a number of different levels, then, some of which require the reader to have a high level of detailed recall and a perceptive analytical understanding of the original text. Some of the jokes are broader and more obvious than others, and Aristophanes (as elsewhere) does seem to be trying to provide something for everyone; but the overall conception of the parody and its execution are strongly redolent of ‘literariness’. As I have already suggested, it is difficult to detect a negative or hostile edge to the parody. If we are determined to find something resembling an evaluative judgement, perhaps we will conclude that Aristophanes found Euripides’ storylines contrived or formulaic. But what seems to come across much more clearly is the attitude of an extraordinary writer who has thoroughly absorbed and understood the work of a fellow poet. This is a true critical appreciation of an author whose work repays the reader’s close attention. It is striking to note that really bad poets – Morsimus, Acestor, Melanthius, Xenocles and their like – never seem to be parodied or quoted at such length: presumably they are not worth the effort.83 5.4. Genre A further significance of parody (in general) is that it reveals a selfconscious interest in literary genre as a distinct topic of interest in its own right. The comedians, among their other concerns, were developing an increasingly sophisticated understanding of genre and its limits and possibilities. Their attitude shows that they view genre not just in terms of performance context or social function but also in terms of formal considerations (such as style, content, linguistic register, tone and so on). This is hugely significant because (along with so much else in comic criticism) it reveals a conceptual shift away from early Greek ideas of poetry towards the notion of literature – a change which is normally dated rather later than the fifth century.84 The range of play titles alone bears witness to a pervasive preoccupation with genre and metatheatricality. Some comedians wrote plays with titles that explicitly signal generic experimentation – such as Alcaeus’ Comitragedy, Callias’ Tragedy of Letters, Phrynichus’ Tragedians, and several comedies pretending to be satyr-plays (Cratinus, Phrynichus and Ecphantides all wrote plays called Satyrs, and Cratinus’ Dionysus as Paris also had a satyr-chorus). There are numerous comedies that seem to have presented themselves as ‘tragedies’ in toto: some of these will have been extended parodies of a specific tragedy (for instance, Strattis’ Orestes the Man and Phoenician Women, based on Euripidean originals, or Cratinus’ Eumenides, based on Aeschylus),85 while others may have been broad pastiches set in the world of tragic or epic poetry (such as Alcaeus’ Pasiphae and Ion, Cratinus’ Nemesis, Platon’s Laïus, Hermippus’ Agamemnon, Aristophanes’ Children of Danaus and so on). I 162

5. The comedian as reader suspect that a very large number of lost comedies took the form of crossgeneric experiments. Many of the titles known to us are conventionally lumped together by scholars, for no very compelling reason, under the umbrella heading ‘mythological burlesque’, but it is possible that a lot of them were large-scale parodies of tragedy or epic.86 The comedians ‘do’ other types of poetry by reproducing their styles and including stereotypical elements which unmistakably recall those other genres: epic-style catalogues and invocations to the Muse (as in Hermippus’ Porters fr. 63, Birth of Athena fr. 77, etc.); the self-referential openings of epinician poetry (e.g. Aristophanes, Knights 1264-73); the expository prologues of tragedy (e.g. Aristophanes, Aeolosicon fr. 1, Lemnian Women frr. 372-3, Frogs 1119-1250); the use of the ekkyklêma in tragedy for displaying horrendous tableaux (e.g. Aristophanes, Acharnians 409-79, Women at the Thesmophoria 296); recognition-scenes (e.g. Aristophanes, Acharnians 885-94); monodies (e.g. Aristophanes, Peace 1019-15, Frogs 1251-1363), and so on. Comedy typically draws our attention to those features which are supposed to belong to one particular genre and makes us think more carefully about their presence and function there. Often it does this by incorporating within parodic scenes intrusive features which are not supposed to be there, such as ‘low’ diction or unsuitable subject-matter. The incongruity of such features implies that the comedians are interested in marking out (or testing out) the normal limits of the respective genres in question, and also that the notion of ‘appropriateness’ is an important criterion when judging poetry.87 Why does tragedy tend to use such solemn language? What sort of words are appropriate for tragedians or comedians to use, and why? What is the difference between comic-style and epic-style catalogues that renders the former funny and the latter not funny? Why does tragedy contain so many recognition-scenes? Why does tragedy omit reference to so many normal aspects of human life, such as eating, drinking, sex or domestic life? Why should comedy not depict extremes of emotion? Why is war not a suitable subject for comedy? Why do tragedians restrict themselves to dealing with certain types of myth? These and similar questions are implicitly being raised by the way in which the comedians play around with the other poetic genres. (Occasionally such questions would have been raised explicitly as well, as in Aristophanes’ lost Gerytades, which incorporated a synkrisis of three different genres – comedy, tragedy and dithyramb).88 As usual, no definite answers to these questions are provided, but there may be important implications for the genre of comedy itself. If comedy can ‘do’ all of these other genres within the compass of a single literary form, it is inviting us to see it as more inclusive and more adaptable than tragedy or epic, despite its status as a supposedly inferior genre. As Charles Platter puts it, in his fascinating Bakhtinian discussion of Aristophanes, ‘old comedy may best be described as the anti-genre, the type of writing that exposes the inflexibility of other genres while escaping generic classification itself’.89 Or perhaps comedy is simply 163

The Comedian as Critic better than tragedy – that is, more natural, more realistic, more true to life, less subject to artificial restrictions.90 5.5. Close reading In this final section we shall look at a number of passages in which the comedians subject the work of other poets to what we would call ‘close reading’ or ‘practical criticism’, quoting specific passages or phrases with a view to analysing their style or interpreting their content in fine detail. The recurrent interest that is shown in verbal texture, diction, unusual words, sound effects, etymology and such matters denotes a markedly literary – one might even say scholarly – approach to poetry; it reflects sophistic influence, but also anticipates the concerns of later literary critics ‘proper’. As ever, we have to bear in mind the fact that the comedians are trying to make us laugh, which means that it is difficult to assess their attitude to this new reading habit. It can sometimes seem that they are making fun of the practice of close reading, as if it represented the height of pedantry or obscurantism. But just as often it is clear that the jokes actually depend on close reading, and the focus (or target) of the humour is some poet or his work, and not the method of interpretation itself. Whatever our own precise interpretation of each individual joke may be, the crucial consideration in all cases is that we are seeing two very distinct approaches to poetry being represented within the plays. On the one hand, there is the ‘literary’ approach, involving detailed reflection and close reading, and on the other hand, there is the ‘theatrical’ approach, involving instantaneous judgement and the award of prizes based on a much more heterogeneous (or opaque) set of criteria. As ever, it is the tension between these different approaches that provides useful material for the historian of criticism. Apart from the numerous parodic passages in comedy (which themselves may be thought to constitute a sort of implicit close reading), it seems that a significant number of comedies displayed an interest in this sort of analysis. Attention has tended to focus, for obvious reasons, on Aristophanes’ Frogs, but other Aristophanic comedies also include a few particularly relevant scenes. In Knights (1015-99) we see hexameter oracles being subjected to detailed analysis, while Clouds plays around with various modish linguistic theories, notably the ‘correctness of words’ (658-93)91 and the weird personification of the Dissoi Logoi (112-15, 244 etc.). Banqueters had already provided a comic treatment of these themes, a couple of years before Clouds was produced. In this earlier play, Aristophanes parodied Hesiod’s choice of vocabulary (fr. 239) and the sophists’ habit of coining neologisms (fr. 205), but he also submitted the text of Homer to detailed examination (fr. 233): A: Well, then, now you can explain to me some rare words ( ) from Homer. What is meant by korumba? [...] What is meant by amenêna karêna?


5. The comedian as reader [...] B. No – let him (your son and my brother) explain it: What is meant by iduous? And what on earth is opuein?

Aristophanes is using the term glôttai in exactly the same sense as later Homeric scholars used it, to mean ‘rare or obsolete epic words’ (the fragment is in fact quoted by Galen in the course of his own discussion of glôttai).92 This is not only an interesting example of close reading but a clear instance of Aristophanes’ adopting the quasi-technical terminology of early classical scholarship. There are signs that other lost comedies shared the same sort of preoccupations, and some of these may well have contained extended passages of close reading and interpretation. For instance, the remains of Phrynichus’ Tragedians reveal a concern with literary technê (fr. 56) and, in particular, an interest in word order ( , fr. 58), which strongly implies that verses from tragedy were quoted and discussed (and their words rearranged). Among the characters in Eupolis’ Goats (fr. 7) was Prodamus, a teacher of grammatikê and mousikê, and in general it seems that Goats may have been remarkably similar to Clouds and Banqueters in its presentation of literary culture and the old versus new styles of education.93 Several comedians employed metaphors to describe particular types of words or styles – such as ‘three-cubit words, cut in Thessalian style’ (Crates, Lamia fr. 21),94 or ‘angular words’ (Platon, Laconians or Poets fr. 69),95 – implying, again, that specific examples of these types may have been included for the purposes of illustration or criticism. A few other lost plays made use (somehow) of the idea of synkrisis between different poets: Phrynichus’ Muses, performed at the same festival as Frogs, seems to have involved a similar sort of contest between two rival poets, though the details are obscure;96 while Telecleides’ Hesiod and Friends (fr. 115) compared Aeschylus to Philocles; and two characters (rival producers? fans?) in Platon’s Stage-Properties (fr. 136) debated the respective merits of Morsimus and Sthenelus (‘If you so much as touch a hair on Morsimus’ head, that will make me rush off and smash your Sthenelus to smithereens’). All these works, because of the nature of their theme, would have been likely to include quotation and criticism of specific passages. In Frogs, the synkrisis of Aeschylus and Euripides is based (inter alia) on close attention to language and style (905-1416). It is particularly notable that the vocabulary used throughout this scene seems to denote a specific type of activity on the part of the reader. That is, the characters do not simply read or quote poetry; they ‘examine’ or ‘interrogate’ it ( , 802, 1121, 1367), and they scrutinize its contents ‘word by word’ ( , 802; , 1198-9).97 This sort of vocabulary (and the underlying approach to poetry that it denotes) has been compared to the well-established critical method of identifying ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’ in poetry, as reflected in the works of Aristotle, Longinus and other later scholars.98 165

The Comedian as Critic In particular, Euripides is made to complain about the length and complexity of Aeschylean words (924-6), and Dionysus agrees with him, saying that he has spent much time and effort trying to work out the meaning of certain expressions (929-31) – a description, perhaps, of a process of close study and re-reading of a text. A little later on, the two tragedians quote selected lines from one another’s prologue speeches and criticize them on grounds of style and content, pointing out ‘errors’ (1131, 1135, 1137, 1147, 1171, etc.). For example, Aeschylus is made to quote from the prologue to his Libation-Bearers: Aeschylus: ‘Become my saviour and ally, I beseech you, since I have come back and am returning to this land.’ Euripides: Clever old Aeschylus has told us the same thing twice. Dionysus: What do you mean, twice? Euripides: Examine the phrase, and I’ll explain it to you. ‘I have come back to this land,’ he says, ‘and am returning’ – but ‘coming back’ and ‘returning’ are the same thing. Dionysus: By Zeus, you’re right! It’s as if you were to say to your neighbour: ‘Lend me your kneading-trough, or if you like, a trough to knead in.’ Aeschylus: That is certainly not the same thing, you blathering person! The wording is extremely fine. Dionysus: How is that, then? Explain to me what you mean. Aeschylus: Well, to ‘come back’ to a land is what happens when someone revisits his native land: he just goes there, and that is all there is to it. But someone who is in exile both ‘comes back’ and ‘returns’. Dionysus: Oh, well done, by Apollo! What about that, Euripides? Euripides: I deny that Orestes was ‘coming back’ home: he went there in secret, without informing the people in charge (Frogs 1152-68).

This discussion is clearly based on the principles of detailed quotation, repetition, analysis, interpretation (or what passes for interpretation), and a critical focus on lexical choice and the ‘correctness’ of words. But what begins as a reasonably sensible, even quite perceptive, close reading soon descends into silliness: Aeschylus’ waffly defence of his own lines is unconvincing, and Euripides’ counter-response is equally feeble. But the basic point being made – that Aeschylus’ style is tautologous and full of irrelevant padding ( , 1178) – is spot-on. This is a perfectly valid stylistic observation. Whether we choose to take it as critical of Aeschylus, in a hostile or derisory sense, is up to us, but it does seem to me that the use of the epithet ‘clever’ (sophos) in this context is rather barbed.99 A number of scenes or jokes depend on the acknowledgement that different writers have their own distinctive styles. This is sometimes seen implicitly, by means of adroit imitation or parody, but it is also pointed out explicitly in passages like the one just quoted. Phrynichus (fr. 68, from an unknown comedy) described Sophocles’ individual style as ‘not too sweet, nor adulterated, but Pramnian’, using a vivid oenological metaphor that may have been accompanied by the quotation (or ‘tasting’) of a selected sample of Sophoclean language.100 Prose stylists were not ignored: Gorgias’ habit of using ‘outlandish expressions’ is pointed out 166

5. The comedian as reader by Aristophanes in Acharnians ( , 634-5), just as it was by various other critics and rhetoricians in antiquity.101 The tragedian Agathon’s extremely distinctive, epigrammatic style was imitated at some length by Aristophanes in Women at the Thesmophoria (as we have seen), but his penchant for antithesis was also pointed out explicitly elsewhere: in the second (lost) Women at the Thesmophoria one of the characters identified ‘a clean-shaven antithesis, in the style of Agathon (fr. 341).102 Agathon is twice described using the epithet (‘Agathon of the fine phrases’),103 which may have been a stock description or nickname of the poet (admiring or ironical as it might be). In another lost Aristophanic play (fr. 592) we find someone quoting specific Agathonian phrases and commenting on their quality: the papyrus fragment in question is lacunose and difficult to interpret, but a character there is clearly to be seen calling for ‘... what Agathon calls “light-bringing pinewood torches” ( , 35)’ – not a terribly distinctive phrase, one would have thought, but evidently one which was identified as being somehow idiosyncratic or characteristic of its author. In another intriguing Aristophanic fragment (fr. 591.43-4), it seems that characters were required to identify the authorship of certain verses by means of their style: ‘How bitter!’ someone cried. ‘Who else could it be apart from P[hilocles]?’104

This mixture of identification and evaluation looks extraordinarily like the notorious experiment which was set up by I.A. Richards for his students and colleagues in the late 1920s, in which participants were given unidentified poems and told to criticize them ‘blind’ on the basis of their style and content. This experiment resulted in a book, Practical Criticism,105 and a whole literary movement which remains enormously influential today – but in some respects Aristophanes had already anticipated Richards, many years earlier. The poet most frequently singled out for comment, criticism or parody is Euripides. Obviously the tragedian was perceived as being extraordinary in a number of ways, including his portrayal of female characters, his attitude towards conventional morality, and his preoccupation with modern philosophy; but his style and diction also come under the microscope. Perhaps (as it has been suggested) one of the main reasons why Euripides featured in comedy more than, say, Aeschylus or Sophocles is simply that his style was easier to imitate than theirs.106 We have already mentioned Euripides’ loquaciousness or ‘chatter’;107 other verbal tics identified by Aristophanes include his penchant for inventing etymological explanations for names (fr. 342(b), from the second Women at the Thesmophoria; cf. Lemnian Women fr. 373); his inclusion of meaningless words, and excessive use of onomatopoeia and anaphora, in his lyrics and monodies (Frogs 1309-64); his habit of coining aphoristic phrases ( , Peace 532; cf. Acharnians 398); and his adoption of forensic-style rhetoric (Peace 534, Acharnians 444-7, etc.).108 167

The Comedian as Critic Platon was also interested in Euripides. In his Stage-Properties (fr. 142) he included detailed criticism of the plot of one of his tragedies (probably Electra): Euripides described her as fetching water. But to me [...] and would it not be a novel thing, if she could be carrying an earthenware pot full of hot coals?

Platon seems to be drawing attention to a ‘problem’ in the plot of Electra (or whatever play it was), suggesting that the scene in question could have been better managed if a particular detail had been altered. Is he criticizing Euripides on the grounds of lack of verisimilitude, or on the grounds of inappropriateness, for having obtruded ‘low’, domestic subjectmatter into the ‘high’ genre of tragedy? It is hard to say for certain – the mention of ‘novelty’ (so often a problematic quality in comedy) adds an extra level of difficulty, and Platon’s suggested alteration does not look like an obvious improvement on the original – but it is clear that an act of practical criticism is being undertaken here. A comparable moment took place somewhere in Platon’s Festivals (fr. 29): My congratulations to you – you’ve saved me from Euripides’s S’s ( / ).

According to Eustathius, who quotes the fragment,109 these words were uttered by the character of Comedy herself, who was making fun of Euripides’ sigmatism (in verses such as Medea 476: ): this sort of ‘hissing’ sound effect is obviously judged to be too harsh and abrasive. Unfortunately, not enough of this play remains to allow us to speculate further on its plot or critical outlook. Nevertheless, Festivals was obviously a sophisticated literary comedy on very similar lines to Frogs, and it provides proof (if further proof were needed) that Aristophanes was by no means the only old comedian to be obsessed with Euripides and his dramatic technique. 5.6. Conclusions and consequences Comedy is such a rich, heterogeneous genre of literature that no single method or approach can ever succeed in making complete sense of it. But whatever one’s overall view of comedy may be, and however one may choose to assess the comedians in their capacity as critics, it is fairly clear that different modes of reading can lead to very different experiences of the plays under consideration: this is as true for modern scholars as it was for fifth-century Athenians. A ‘literary’ mode of reading, however problematic it might seem at first, turns out to be perfectly compatible with the material. Of course, this is not the only way of understanding comedy – indeed, as I have been repeating at frequent intervals, comedy deliberately encourages us towards multiple readings, creating and exploiting tensions and inconsistencies. However, a ‘literary’ approach 168

5. The comedian as reader seems to help us come to terms with the nature of comedy itself and with the comedians’ relationship to other types of literary critic within antiquity. Given the state of the evidence, it may be thought that the study of fifth-century literacy cannot develop much further; but even in the absence of any new external evidence about book-ownership, reading habits and suchlike, I think it is possible to make some genuine progress by re-examining the internal evidence provided by the texts of old comedy. I hope to have shown in this chapter, and in the book as a whole, that many of these comedies, in terms of their specific content and their whole conception, are inherently based on a new idea of the activity of reading. Even if one remains uncomfortable with the discourse of books (as such) in relation to fifth-century Athens, it seems clear that the comedians – and at least some of the people for whom they were writing – were starting to encounter literature in a significantly different way from earlier generations of readers (or whatever we want to call them). The texts of old comedy are not only constructed in a markedly ‘literary’ way, but they also seem to be challenging their readers to respond to them, if they are willing and able to do so, in a similar spirit. It is all about accessing the literary tradition, mobilizing knowledge, making connections between different works and authors, spotting quotations, solving clues, analysing texts, detecting problems – and showing off. All of these writerly and readerly habits are familiar to us, but during the period of old comedy they constituted radical innovations. In these plays we are indirectly witnessing the emergence of ‘reading culture’ out of ‘performance culture’. Comedy does not just reflect this process of change and development; it will have played an important part in shaping people’s ideas, habits and preferences. Apart from any explicit critical reflection contained in the plays, the most important thing to note is that comedy itself is the most extravagantly ‘literary’ form of poetry available to readers until the Hellenistic or Alexandrian period (at least). To a large extent, comedy will have created its own conditions of readership: if people were to appreciate its full complexity and potential, they would have to get to grips with allusiveness, intertextuality and sophisticated literary analysis. And then we have to consider the protreptic function of criticism – that is, its power to send readers back to the texts that are being criticized or reworked, encouraging them to reread these texts with new eyes. The type of criticism we see in comedy does, I think, have this implicitly protreptic effect, for all its subversive playfulness and open-ended irony. But in that case, it must have been aimed at people who were actually in a position to return to the texts. It seems increasingly likely that these readers – the privileged ‘target’ audience of the comedians, the ones who were able to appreciate all these literary jokes – would have constituted a relatively small elite group, distinct from the popular theatre audience. I am not going to repeat my earlier arguments about the clash between ‘popular’ and ‘elite’ values (see Chapters 1 and 2 above), but I hope that my later chapters have 169

The Comedian as Critic underlined the importance of this contrast, and that I have gone some way towards identifying the type of autonomous literary values and specialized reading habits that underpin the plays. These ‘literary’ values exist within the plays alongside more miscellaneous, popular approaches to poetry, and the relationship between the two types of perspective is often an uneasy one. As we have seen repeatedly in the course of our investigation, it is impossible to identify any comedian’s own views with confidence. They make fun of everything: no theory, or opinion, or item of terminology, or author, or work, escapes criticism. In the end, all that can be said for certain is that the comedians play around with a variety of ways in which literature might be interpreted, and a variety of criteria which might be used to evaluate it. The fact that many of the comedians are clearly exploiting the tension between popular and elite values, together with the pervasive literariness of their own writing, may seem to imply that they are positioning themselves firmly towards the elite end of the spectrum (the position occupied by Plato, Aristotle et al.). However, we could also see all their irony and inconsistency as implying a more open-ended, indeterminate position. Perhaps the comedians are saying, in effect, that it is up to each one of us how we judge literature, and that there is no single, infallible method of doing ‘literary criticism.’ In that case, there is yet another underlying tension to be detected in their whole approach to literature – a tension between individual judgements, which might vary from person to person, and collective judgements, which imply a consensus and a shared set of conventions or rules. The verdicts of the festival judges and theatre audiences clearly belong to the second category, but the comedians are inclining towards the first category. A focus on the individual seems to make sense in the context of the new age of book-culture, since reading, studying and reflection are essentially private, personal activities. In other words, then, it may be that the collective, democratic culture of prizes and majority votes is being challenged or supplanted by the subjective, variable preferences of individual readers.110 Some of my own readers may be thinking, as this book reaches its conclusion, that I could have said considerably more about Aristophanes’ Frogs in the preceding pages. There are two main reasons for this comparative restraint (apart from my uneasy feeling that this book was already quite long enough). In the first place, an enormous number of published discussions of Frogs already exist (there are so many that I have not even attempted to refer to all of them in the notes and bibliography). But secondly, and more importantly, the effect of devoting more space to Frogs would have been to make this play seem disproportionately important in the scheme of things. Having reached the end of my tour d’horizon of the remains of old comedy, I am convinced that Frogs, while a justly celebrated play, was not an extraordinary one.111 Yet one of the major questions posed by historians of comedy, and one which I have 170

5. The comedian as reader deliberately avoided raising in so many words, is that of Aristophanes’ originality in comparison to his rival comedians. On the evidence of the comic fragments, it will be absolutely clear by now that Aristophanes was not unique, at least not in the range of his interests. His poetics, his subject-matter, his jokes, his attitude to festivals and literary prizes, his dialogue with tragedy and other genres, his metatheatricality, his use of parody and intertextuality, his preoccupation with Euripides – all of these features are paralleled in the works of his fellow comedians, and it seems misguided to conclude on the basis of their scanty remains that their interest in these matters was less sustained or intense than Aristophanes’ own. Aristophanes may have been a better poet than his rivals (as Michael Silk suggests),112 but even this is rather an unfair assumption to make, when the evidence rules out a sustained comparison between the various authors. No, Aristophanes does not seem to have been particularly remarkable or distinctive. He is a great writer, to be sure, but among his contemporaries there will have been other equally great writers. Certain names, indeed, have kept on popping up remarkably often throughout our discussion – one would very much like to possess some more works by Platon, Strattis and Hermippus, in particular – but on the whole it seems that old comedy in general was a very exciting, lively genre during the last few decades of the fifth century. In this period it can truly be said that comedy was the genre of criticism.113


This page intentionally left blank

Appendix: Checklist of play titles The list below gives the titles, in English, of all the comedies discussed in this book, alongside their original Greek titles as listed in PCG. (When deciding on an appropriate English version, I have often been guided by the very useful ‘Biographical Appendix’ in Harvey and Wilkins [2000], 507-25.) Alcaeus Comitragedy Kômôidotragôidia Ameipsias Connus Konnos Revellers Kômastai Archippus Dionysus Shipwrecked Dionusos Nauagos Fishes Ichthues Poetry Poiêsis Aristomenes Dionysus in Training

Dionusos Askêtês

Aristophanes Acharnians Acharnês Aeolosicon Aiolosikon Anagyrus Anagyrus Assemblywomen Ekklêsiazousai Babylonians Babulônioi Banqueters Daitalês Birds Ornithes Children of Danaus Danaides Clouds Nephelai Daedalus Daidalos Dramas Dramata Farmers Geôrgoi Frogs Batrachoi Fry-Cooks Tagênistai Gerytades Gêrutadês Heroes Hêrôes Islands Nêsoi Knights Hippês 173

Appendix: Checklist of play titles Lemnian Women Lêmniai Lysistrata Lusistrata Merchant Ships Holkades Old Age Gêras Peace Eirênê Phoenician Women Phoinissai Poetry Poiêsis Polyidus Poluidos Proagon Proagôn Seasons Hôrai Storks Pelargoi Telemessians Telemessês Wasps Sphêkes Wealth Ploutos Women at the Thesmophoria Thesmophoriazusai Women Claiming Tent-Sites Skênas Katalambanousai Callias Cyclopes Kuklôpes Frogs Batrachoi Men in Fetters Pedêtai Satyrs Saturoi Tragedy of Letters Grammatikê Tragôidia Cantharus Medea Mêdeia Tereus Têreus Crates Festivals Heortai Heroes Hêrôes Lamia Lamia Men of Samos Samioi Neighbours Geitones Orators Rhêtores Cratinus All-Seeing Ones Panoptai Archilochus and Friends Archilochoi Cheirons Cheirônes Cleobulina and Friends Kleoboulinai Cowherd Boukolos Dionysus and Friends Dionusoi Dionysus as Paris Dionusalexandros Herdsmen Boukoloi Laconians Lakônes Laws Nomoi 174

Appendix: Checklist of play titles Nemesis Nemesis Odysseus and Friends Odussês Performance Records Didaskaliai Pylaea Pulaia Satyrs Saturoi Seasons Hôrai Tempest-Tossed Cheimazomenoi Thracian Women Thraittai Wealth-Gods Ploutoi The Wine-Flask Putinê Ecphantides Satyrs Saturoi Eupolis Autolycus Autolukos Cities Poleis Demes Dêmoi Dippers Baptai Flatterers Kolakes Friends Philoi Goats Aiges Golden Race Chrusoun Genos Helots Heilôtes Laconians Lakônes Maricas Marikas Prospaltians Prospaltioi Taxiarchs Taxiarchoi Hermippus Agamemnon Agamemnôn Birth of Athena Athênas Gonai Breadsellers Artopôlides Fates Moirai Gods Theoi Porters Phormophoroi Leucon Embassies Presbeis Lysippus Bacchantes Bacchai Magnes Frogs Batrachoi Lyre-Players Barbitistai 175

Appendix: Checklist of play titles Metagenes The Man Who Liked Sacrifices Philothytês Thurio-Persians Thuriopersai Myrtilus Titan-Pans Titanopanes Nicochares Heracles the Producer

Hêraklês Chorêgos

Pherecrates Ant-Men Murmêkanthrôpoi Cheiron Cheirôn Corianno Koriannô The False Heracles Pseudhêraklês Metics Metoikoi Mr Forgetful Epilêsmôn Persians Persai Petale Petalê Savages Agrioi Small Fry Krapataloi Phrynichus Connus Konnos Cronus Kronos The Hermit Monotropos Muses Mousai Mystic Initiates Mustai The Nightmare Epialtês Revellers Kômastai Satyrs Saturoi Tragedians Tragôidoi Platon Ambassadors Presbeis Cercopes Kerkôpes Cleophon Kleophôn Daedalus Daidalos Europa Eurôpê Festivals Heortai Hyperbolus Huperbolos Laconians or Poets Lakônes ê Poiêtai Laïus Laïos The Little Child Paidarion A Man in Terrible Pain Perialgês Menelaus Meneleôs Metics Metoikoi 176

Appendix: Checklist of play titles Phaon Phaôn The Poet Poiêtês Sophists Sophistai Stage-Properties Skeuai Victories Nikai Polyzelus The People as Tyndareus


Sannyrion Danae Danaê Io Iô Laughter Gelôs Strattis Cinesias Kinêsias Lemnomeda Lêmnomeda Medea Mêdeia Men Cooling Off Psychastai Myrmidons Murmidones Orestes the Man Anthrôporestês Philoctetes Philoktêtês Phoenician Women Phoinissai Telecleides Amphictyons Amphiktuones Hesiod and Friends Hêsiodoi Hard Men Sterroi Theopompus Odysseus Odusseus Sirens Seirênes Theseus Thêseus


This page intentionally left blank

Notes 1. Reading comic criticism 1. See (e.g.) the standard handbooks of ‘ancient literary criticism’ by Grube (1965) and Russell (1981), or the widely-used source-book of Russell and Winterbottom (1972). 2. See (esp.) Verdenius (1983), Griffith (1990), Ford (2002), Graziosi (2002), Ledbetter (2003); cf. Lanata (1963) for a (selective) collection of texts and testimonia. 3. Ford (2002): the quotation is from p. 273. Cf. Revermann (2006b) 13-15. On ‘literary criticism’ as a distinct discipline, cf. Kennedy (1989) and Russell (1981). 4. See Dover (1972) – especially the frontispiece! Cf. Harriott (1962); Sommerstein (1992) 30; MacDowell (1995) 8-26; Segal (2001) 44; Zimmermann (2006), etc. 5. E.g. Boedeker and Raaflaub (1998), Goldhill and Osborne (1999), Murray and Wilson (2004). Cf. Dover (1993) for the view that no distinction can be made between ‘popular’ and ‘professional’ values or criticism in the fifth century. 6. Goldhill (1999) 1. 7. I return to this subject in some detail in Chapter 2 (especially §§2.2 and 2.3) and Chapter 5. 8. This idea was indirectly suggested by Halliwell’s (2008) definition of humour, which is based on a series of potentially unstable ‘tensions’ or ‘contrasts’, and on various techniques of social inclusion and exclusion. 9. On sophistic ‘literary criticism’ see esp. Pfeiffer (1968) 25-30; Richardson (1975); Kennedy (1989) 78-91; O’Sullivan (1996). Note that sophists are often treated as particularly ‘bookish’ individuals: e.g. Aristophanes, Fry-Cooks fr. 506. 10. See (most recently) Rothwell (2007); Csapo and Miller (2007); cf. Rosen (1988) on the relationship between comedy and the iambographic tradition, and Halliwell (2008) 215-62 on aischrology and old comedy. 11. Silk (2000a) and Segal (2001) are important recent examples of such an approach. Silk’s notion of the ‘autonomy’ of comedy runs somewhat counter to my own perspective in this chapter. 12. Ancient accounts of kômôidia, though they are often problematic and inaccurate, mostly agree that the late fifth century was a time of rapid change and development: see esp. the ancient Life of Aristophanes (Ar. Test. 1 KA); Platonius, On the Differences Between Comedians (Ar. Test. 34 KA) and much other miscellaneous evidence collected in Koster’s Prolegomena on Comedy. See Nesselrath (2000), Sidwell (2000); cf. Bakola (2010) 2. 13. This was seen even within antiquity: see Plutarch, Comparison of Aristophanes and Menander (Mor. 853a-d) §3 (differentiating between mass vs educated audiences); cf. Hunter (2009) 78-99 for discussion. Aristophanes himself hints at a stratified audience (Assemblywomen 1155-62), though in this passage he professes (sincerely or ironically as it might be) to be catering for all tastes equally; cf. Peace 43-53, 296-7. 14. Cf. Sidwell’s (2009) interesting view that Aristophanes, Cratinus and


Notes to pages 5-8 Eupolis were each aiming at a ‘target’ audience of different political sub-groups within the theatre audience. 15. Claessens and Dhoest (2010) is an extremely suggestive study of modern televisual culture and audience tastes. 16. Cf. Wright (forthcoming) and Chapter 5 below. 17. See (e.g.) Lucas (1968) 160 and Halliwell (1987) 141-2 for admirable, but humourless, treatments of this passage. 18. I do not have space here to pursue the definition of ‘humour’ any further, since it is only indirectly relevant to my overall argument. An enormous amount of theoretical bibliography exists: see (with particular reference to Greek comedy) Halliwell (2008), Lowe (2007), Robson (2006). On ‘irony’ in a general sense, see Muecke (1969), Hutcheon (1994), Colebrook (2004), and (specifically on comic irony) Hesk (2000); cf. my own remarks later on in this chapter. 19. Euripides’ mother: Ar. Ach. 478, Thesm. 387, 456, Knights 19, Frogs 840 (see Dover (1993) 297 and Olson (2002) 196-7). Sthenelus: Ar. Wasps 1313 (see MacDowell (1971) ad loc.). Carcinus’ gods: Ar. Clouds 1260-1 (see Dover (1968) ad loc.). 20. Plutarch, Quaest. Conv. 7.8.4-5 (Mor. 711f). Cf. also the numerous, often aporetic, comments found in the Aristophanic scholia (passim). 21. Cf. Murray’s (1933, 85-6) memorable statement of the problem: ‘If the scholars of A.D. 2500 were to discover some present-day farce in which a man from Aberdeen was represented as wildly scattering his money, or Dr Einstein as refusing to pay his year’s rent on the ground that Time does not exist, or the Curate in the Bab Ballads as having a theatrical fairy for a mother, how could they know, without corroboration, that the first joke was meant to be the opposite of the truth, the second a caricature of the truth, while the third had no relation to the truth at all? Might we not easily have a scholiast explaining that Aberdonians were notorious spendthrifts, that Dr Einstein was accused of not paying his debts, and that the Church of England was sadly tainted with profligacy?’ 22. Pelling (2000) 123-40; quotations from p. 130. 23. Cf. Cratinus, The Wine-Flask fr. 213, Aristophanes, Anagyrus fr. 58, Knights 1224-5 and Clouds 551-6, all of which seem to be allegations and counterallegations of plagiarism linked in some way to Eupolis fr. 89. Who really did invent the ‘demagogue-comedy’? See Sommerstein (2000). 24. See (especially) Halliwell (1980) and (1989), Sidwell (1995), Ruffell (2002), Storey (2003) 281-8. Some of the problems raised here will be revisited in later chapters. 25. Olson (2007, 110-11), who supplies detailed commentary on Cratinus fr. 342, tentatively attributes it to The Wine-Flask. The fragment has been widely discussed: notable recent treatments apart from Rosen include O’Sullivan (2006) and Bakola (2010) 24-9. 26. This is also suggested by the similarity of fr. 342 to a couple of other comic passages in which the reaction of a ‘smart-alec’ spectator is imagined: Pherecrates, The False Heracles fr. 163; Aristophanes, Peace 42-3. 27. Plato, Apology 19c. 28. Aristophanes was widely seen within antiquity as having a particular interest (of some sort) in Euripides: see (e.g.) Vita Aristophanis §1 (Prolegomena on Comedy xxvii Koster); Cratinus fr. 342; Anon. On Comedy (Prolegomena on Comedy iii. 9.7 Koster). His use of Euripides has been seen as a ‘signature theme’: see Silk (2000a), Foley (2008). Apart from extended Euripidean parodies in Frogs, Acharnians and Women at the Thesmophoria, see also Ar. Wasps 56-64 and Women Claiming Tent-Sites fr. 488 (quoted later in this chapter). This topic is discussed at more length in Chapter 3. 29. O’Sullivan (2006) is particularly good at describing Aristophanes’


Notes to pages 8-12 ambivalence, i.e. the fact that he can be interpreted either as ‘an external and hostile source for the intellectual history of the second half of the fifth century’ or as ‘a keen student of new intellectual movements’. It is this ambivalence, O’Sullivan argues, that is being pointed out by Cratinus in fr. 342. 30. Hesychius 1439 (= Ecphantides Test. 6, PCG v, p. 126); Kassel and Austin ad loc. compare Aristophanes fr. 596 (= Life of Euripides 6.6.2). Cf. also Aristophanes, Clouds I fr. 392 and Teleclides frr. 41-2, in which Socrates is said to assist Euripides in the writing of plays. 31. Choerilus won thirteen victories and was known for his innovations in costume and use of masks (Suda 594). See TrGF 1 pp. 66-8; cf. PickardCambridge (1962) 68-9. 32. Cratinus fr. 462; cf. Aristophanes, Wasps 151 (the metaphor is discussed further in §4.2 above). Hesychius, who quotes Cratinus fr. 502, elsewhere ( 220) uses the word ‘en-Choerilized’ ( ) to describe a ‘scabby’ or ‘rough’ ( ) style: this word presumably comes from another comedy (by Ecphantides?). See Kassel-Austin ad loc. (PCG iv, p. 333). 33. Carrière (1979), von Möllendorff (1995), and Platter (2007) apply the work of Bakhtin to old comedy in some detail. Other excellent recent discussions with specific reference to ‘voice’ include Goldhill (1991) 196, who says that comedy produces ‘a vertiginous destabilization of the poet’s voice’, and Dobrov (1995) on the ‘discontinuous’ persona of Aristophanes. Cf. Hubbard (1991) 16-32, who points out the wide variety of guises under which Ar. presents himself in different plays: ‘boastful’ in Ach., ‘diffident’ in Knights, ‘contemptuous’ in Clouds, ‘angry’ in Wasps, ‘exultant’ in Peace, etc. 34. Cf. Silk’s (2000a, 136-58) valuable discussion of ‘discontinuous characterization’ in Aristophanes. Bakola (2008) also discusses poetic ‘autobiography’ in the parabases in terms of a pastiche of elements from the personae of earlier poets. 35. The earnest-seeming parabasis of Frogs has traditionally caused problems in this respect: see Heath (1987); cf. de Ste. Croix (1972) 355-76. Why not assume that it is Aristophanes at his most deadpan? 36. The useful phrase of Goldhill (1991) 191. 37. E.g. Foley (1988), Silk (2000a) 39-41, Slater (2002); Robson (2009) 173-5 gives a balanced critique of various positions. 38. Eur. Telephus fr. 703; cf. Rau (1967) 38-40. See also Chapter 3 below. 39. The word might also be connected with (‘new wine’). See Taplin (1983), Zanetto (2006) and Olson (2002) ad loc.; cf. the discussion later in this chapter (§1.5). I note that Lysistrata 649 is very similarly worded to Ach. 497-8 (perhaps Aristophanes had Telephus in mind, though Rau (1967) makes no mention of this possibility). The leader of the chorus there says: ‘Begrudge me not for the fact that I, a mere woman by birth, venture to make a suggestion ...’ As in the Acharnians passage, the rhetoric relies on the contrast between a ‘lesser’ party (women/comedians) and a ‘greater’ party (men/tragedians). 40. Foley (1988) 44. 41. Cf. Hesk (2000) 239 on the way that apparently serious claims in Ach. are ‘undercut’ by other lines within the same play. 42. See Fisher (1993), who refers to the ‘baffling’ number of roles adopted by this single character. 43. Sidwell (1995) and (2009), referring to previous (conflicting) discussions by E.L. Bowie (1988) and Parker (1991). 44. Storey (2003) 297-300 offers an interesting critique of ‘ventriloquial paracomedy’. 45. See Biles (2002), Bakola (2008); cf. §3.6 below for detailed discussion of The Wine-Flask.


Notes to pages 13-20 46. See PCG vii.665. 47. Olson (2007) 107-15 has many valuable comments on these and other parabatic fragments. See also my comments on Aristophanic ‘self-assertion’ in Chapter 4 below. 48. Rosen (2000) 23, arguing that Aristophanes’ persona ‘develops primarily in accordance with generic expectations’. Rosen’s position is explicitly opposed to that of Hubbard (1991), who argues that it is possible to retrieve some genuinely autobiographical facts from comic parabases. Cf. Silk (2000a) 47-8 on the ‘uncommunicative’ nature of Aristophanic parabases: as he puts it, ‘Aristophanes’ characterization of his comic ideals are in the end calculated to frustrate us.’ Of course, Aristophanes is unlikely to have been unique in this respect. 49. This fact does not discourage journalists, reviewers and others from making the lazy assumption that comedians and their invented characters or personae are interchangeable. Woody Allen has suffered from this assumption more than anyone else, perhaps because his films and stand-up routines are often based on a recurring ‘Woody’ character. See Björkman (1995). 50. The modern scholarship on authorial voice is voluminous. See especially Barthes (1977), Burke (1995), Bennett (2002); cf. Wimsatt and Beardsley (1995) on the ‘intentional fallacy’. 51. Cf. Wilson’s (1999) fascinating account of ‘literary seductions’, describing the experiences of readers who have fallen in love with the words on the page and also with their author. 52. Roscalla (2006) explores the issue of authorial voice and authority in a variety of Greek texts. Cf. Lefkowitz (1991) on the first person in Pindar. 53. This view of the function of old comedy (broadly speaking) reflects earlier scholars’ views: see esp. Hor. Sat. 1.10.14-17 (ridiculum acri / fortius et melius magnas plerumque secat res); cf. Prolegomena on Comedy xxvii (Koster); Quintilian 10.65-66; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Art of Rhetoric 8.11. 54. E.g. Plato, Protagoras (esp. 312b, 318e, 325d-e); Republic 2.376-3.398, 10.606d-607a; Aristotle, Poetics (passim); etc. Cf. Russell (1981) 84-98, Nagy (1989) 69-77, Ford (2002) 197-208, Croally (2005). 55. E.g. Xenophanes (DK 21 B10-22, B56-7); Heraclitus (DK 22 B57); Dissoi Logoi (DK 90 B3.17). Cf. the theme of poets as experts (more generally) in earlier lyric: e.g. Archilochus fr. 1, Solon fr. 13 W, Theognis 772. 56. I do not claim any particular originality with these suggestions: cf. Pohlenz (1920) 152-8, Taplin (1983), Verdenius (1983) 31-2, Foley (1988), Chirico (1990), Bremer (1993) 128-34, Sommerstein (1992) 28-30, MacDowell (1995) 59-67, Silk (2000a) 42-59, Ford (2002) 200-1, Bouvier (2004), Hunter (2009) 21-5, Sidwell (1995) and (2009), etc. for a variety of comparable positions. 57. Russell (1981) 86. 58. Cf. (perhaps) various Aristophanic passages in which Euripides is accused of causing harm to the city: e.g. Acharnians 461; Thesm. 372-458; Frogs 1030-88. 59. Cf. (perhaps) the persona of the ‘bogus teacher’ in Roman poetry (Hor. Sat. 2.3, 2.4, Epo. 2; Ovid, Am. 1.8, Ars Am. (passim); Prop. 4.1, 4.5, etc.), said by Watson (2007) to show ‘significant affiliations’ with Greek old comedy. 60. The text of Peace 750-8 seems to be a close paraphrase or rehash of Wasps 1030-7. Did Aristophanes think that these claims were sufficiently important to be repeated, or is there a more serious textual problem? See Olson (1998) 220-3. 61. MacDowell (1971) 219. 62. Taplin (1983) is the classic discussion: he lists also Ar. Ach. 628, 886; Wasps 1537; Clouds 296; Gerytades fr. 156; Women at the Thesmophoria II fr. 347; Eupolis, Demes fr. 99. Cf. Zanetto (2006); see also Dobrov (2001), Foley (1988) and Rosen (2005) on the ways in which Ach. uses tragedy to reflect on the purpose of comedy. Cf. Trygaeus, the name of the main character in Peace: see Hall (2006).


Notes to pages 20-25 63. Ar. Poet. 6.1449b27; cf. Janko (1984) on the ‘lost’ second part of the Poetics, which may have seen katharsis as among the effects of comedy as well as tragedy (Tractatus Coislinianus III-IV = Janko 22-5); for discussion see Janko pp. 13661 (who argues that the metaphor is not purely a medical/therapeutic one). Janko (2009) tentatively suggests that Olympiodorus’ commentary on Plato’s Gorgias (33.3) preserves a fragment of (Aristophanic?) comedy concerned with the cathartic power of tragedy. From (fourth-century) comedy cf. Philippides fr. 171, which implies that Euripidean tragedy in particular heals the audience’s ills. See Clarke Kosak (2004), esp. 1-6, for further discussion. Reckford (1977) also pursues the idea of comedy as social cure. 64. Wasps 1030-7; Peace 736-7, 752-9. 65. Peace 1265-1301, 754. 66. Peace 736, 751-2, 759-60, 773-4. 67. On this perennially problematic topic, see (e.g.) Gomme (1938), de Ste. Croix (1972), Heath (1987), Dobrov (1997), Storey (1998), Napolitano (1999). 68. See Bakola (2008) and (2010) 34-6 (arguing that Eupolis’ persona reflects aspects of the personae of earlier lyric poets); cf. Storey (2003) 211-13 (on fr. 205). 69. The meaning of the fragment is obscure, but the papyrus commentary from which the quotation comes (P.Oxy. 2741) records that the phrase ‘you people have been dismissed’ is ‘a metaphor from schoolteachers’: see Storey (2003) 18, 206. 70. Walsh (1984, esp. 107-8) argues that until the fifth century ‘diversion’ or ‘enchantment’ were universally seen as the main functions of poetry. Cf. (e.g.) Ar. Poet. 1450a33; Plato, Ion 536a; Timocles fr. 6. Cratinus’ Cheirons fr. 248 refers to the soothing power of mousikê. 71. See also §2.5 below on the contrast between ‘literary’ and ‘non-literary’ criteria seen in Frogs. 72. For a variety of ‘straight’ readings, see (e.g.) Sommerstein (1996) 191; cf. Dover (1974) 29-30, Henderson (1990), Sommerstein (1992), Too (1998) 40-8, Ford (2002) 199-201, Zimmermann (2006). 73. The state of the text at this point makes it difficult to be certain just what Aeschylus said, and (in particular) how much was altered between 406-5 (when the play was first written) and 404 or later (when it was reperformed). See Dover (1993) 74-6 and Sommerstein (1996) ad loc. 74. Eupolis frr. 99-146: see Storey (2003) 111-74 for detailed discussion. 75. So Braun (2000). 76. Rosen (2004) discusses the ‘absurdity’ of poets advising on politics: he compares the Contest of Homer and Hesiod for a treatment (and implicit critique) of the political or didactic use of poetry. Cf. Graziosi (2002) 178-9; Ford (2002) 227. 77. E.g. Lapalus (1934), Segal (1961), Sommerstein (1996) 12-14. 78. Frogs 97-100; cf. 762-3, 766-7, 770, 780, 785, 793, 802, 811, 814-29, 831, 840, 875-84. 79. See Dover (1993) 19-20. 80. Bourdieu (1979) 422-4 (‘morale du devoir’ vs ‘morale du devoir de plaisir’ in the original). 81. This is probably a quotation from Euripides: see Rau (1967) 122. If so, it makes for a nice joke (para prosdokian), and Dionysus will have appeared even more indecisive and irrational, since he does not choose Euripides. 82. Hypothesis I to Frogs (pp. 128-9 in Wilson’s Oxford Classical Text), quoting information from Dicaearchus; cf. the ancient Life of Aristophanes (Test. 1.35-9 PCG). Sidwell (2009) is sceptical of the explanation offered here, but his own explanation (that Aristophanes was honoured for his ongoing commitment to the democracy and his attacks on the ‘oligarchic’ Eupolis) will not appeal to everybody. 83. See, however, Dover (1993, 12-14; cf. his note on Frogs 1431a), who argues,


Notes to pages 25-28 rather curiously, that sophia is always unambiguously positive. Cf. Dover (1968) 112-13 on dexios: ‘it is nowhere intended by the speaker to have any derogatory overtones’. 84. E.g. Hom. Il. 15.412; Theognis 790, 876; Pind. Ol. 7.53, Pyth. 3.54; Herodotus 1.30, 1.60; Xen. Mem. 4.2.33. 85. E.g. Homeric Hymn to Hermes 483, 511; Solon fr. 13.52 West; Ibycus fr. 282.23; Theognis 19-20; Bacchylides fr. 5; Xen. Anab. 1.2.8. Cf. Lanata (1963) 603, 83-4, and Ford (2002) 190-200; also see Verdenius (1983) 20-2 on the theme of ‘the poet as expert’. 86. Pind. Ol. 2.86-8; cf. Ol. 1.9, Pyth. 1.12, Nem. 7.23, Isth. 5.28. Cf. Maehler (1963) 66-7; Gianotti (1975) 95-107; Walsh (1984) 46-59. 87. See my discussion, in Chapter 3, of ‘keywords’ which change their meaning in different contexts. An interesting parallel might be provided by the word ‘wit’, which took on a wholly new meaning in the metaphysical poetry of Donne, Marvell and others of that period: see Smith (2006). On the name ‘sophist’ and its connection to sophia, see Guthrie (1971) 27-34; on the meaning of sophia in general cf. Gladigow (1964), Goldhill (1986) 222-43, Murray (1996) 9-11. 88. Gorgias: DK82 B8.3, B23; cf. B11.1-2, 23, 38; B11a 154, 166, 170-1, 220; B19 3, 5. 89. See particularly Pl. Ion 532d5-8; Protag. 317b; Rep. 3.390a-810, 398a1-2; Apol. 20d-23a. 90. Cf. Thuc. 6.77.1, Xen. Mem. 1.2.46; see Hornblower (1991) on Thuc. 3.37.4 and, more generally, Ostwald (1986) 238-46 on the cleverness of sophists and demagogues. 91. Euripides himself was often described as sophos in antiquity: see TrGF (Kannicht) V.1.120-2; cf. Winnington-Ingram (1969). 92. Soph. Phil. 1244-6 is very similar in sentiment. Cf. Eur. El. 294-6; Hcld. 615-17; Med. 285, 294-9, 300-4, 539, 427-8, 1225-9; Hipp. 640-4: many of these Euripidean passages discuss sophia in terms of an excess of cleverness. See Gladigow (1967) 430-3. The word dexios is not found in tragedy at all: see Austin and Olson (2004) 54. 93. Acharnians 628-9, Wasps 1044-59, Peace 798, Frogs 1109-18, Assemblywomen 1155. It may be significant that Aristophanes is referred to as ‘the learned comedian’ ( ) and ‘the jocular sage’ ( ) in ancient scholarship (Eustathius ad Hom. Il. 851.36, 1171.29 = Ar. Test. 94 KA). However, Plutarch (Mor. 854c), by contrast, judges Aristophanes lacking in dexiotês. 94. Pace Sommerstein (1992) 22 and O’Sullivan (2006) 168. 95. See also Cratinus, Pylaea fr. 184 (of unnamed rivals), Aristophanes, Peace 700 (of Cratinus); cf. Frogs 1518-19 (of Aeschylus and Euripides). 96. Clouds 153, 204-5, 833-5, 841, 515-17, 773; cf. 418, 428, 521, 527, 535, 895, 1370, 1377. 97. The line is probably a quotation or adaptation of a verse from Euripides himself, but there is some doubt about this: see Austin and Olson (2004) 589. The scholiast ad loc. attributes it to Sophocles, but Aristophanes elsewhere (Heroes fr. 323) seems to have quoted the same line and attributed it to Euripides. (The irony in Thesm. 21 is made absolutely clear by the use of the particle .) 98. E.g. Aristophanes, Lysistrata 368; Frogs 1491-2; Fry-Cooks fr. 506; Eupolis fr. 386; Callias, Men in Fetters fr. 15; Telecleides frr. 41-2. 99. The phrase is taken from Carey’s (2000, 429) excellent discussion of old comedy and the sophists. Cf. Dover (1968) xxii-lvii, O’Sullivan (2006). 100. Cf. Harvey (2000) 113-14. 101. Wasps 1264-91. MacDowell (1971) 295-9 seems to think that this is sarcastic: he is probably right.


Notes to pages 28-34 102. Cf. Cratinus fr. 342 (discussed in §1.2 above), describing the sort of pretentious, ‘smart’ ( ) spectator who resembles Euripides or Aristophanes. Eupolis, Flatterers fr. 172 is closely comparable (the seemingly flattering phrase – ‘oh-so-smart’ – seems to be ironical). 103. Note that (in general) ‘cleverness’ is normally used as a description of other people. It is (just about) possible for one to describe oneself as ‘clever’ without raising eyebrows – Nietzsche, for example, devoted a section of his Ecce Homo to the question ‘Why I am So Clever’ – but in doing so, one lays oneself open to an unusual degree of scrutiny. 104. Cf. Eur. Bacch. 395-6 (quoted above). 105. This is the traditional, straightforward definition of irony: (e.g.) Quintilian 9.2.44. See Colebrook (2004) 1-3, Muecke (1969) 216-47 for more nuanced definitions. 106. Clouds 521-3, 575 (‘most clever spectators’); Wasps 65 (cf. 1013-14, 10589); Frogs 1108-18. 107. I revisit the question of the comedians’ attitude to their audiences in Chapter 2 below. 108. See Woodbury (1986); cf. Dover (1993) and Sommerstein (1996) ad loc.; cf. my discussion in §2.5 below. 109. See (especially) O’Regan’s (1992) interesting reading of the play. 110. Clouds 112-18, 126-32, 239-41, 478-92. 111. The attitude expressed here is very similar to that of Thucydides’ Cleon (3.38).

2. Literary contests 1. This chapter is a heavily revised and expanded version of Wright (2009). I am grateful to the University of California Press for freely granting permission to reproduce material from that article. 2. Too (1998). 3. Adair (1992, esp. 63-6) is a witty postmodern debunking of the idea of the ‘sterility’ of the critic; cf. Bayard (2007) for the argument that all criticism constitutes creative misreading. For the idea of the critic as artist see Wilde (1891); cf. Pater (1873). A good, brief critique of Aestheticism can be found in McDonald (2007) 70-4. Certain readers may also like to be reminded of Tom, the character in Whit Stillman’s brilliant film Metropolitan (1990), who opines: ‘You don’t have to read a book to have an opinion. I don’t read novels. I prefer good literary criticism.’ 4. Wilde (1891) 142. 5. Notably Bakola (2008) and (2010), Biles (2002), Chirico (1990), Gelzer (1971), Ruffell (2002), Sidwell (1995) and (2009), Storey (2003) 278-303. 6. A point well made by Harriott (1969) 7; cf. Platter (2007) 2-3, who relates this idea to the Bahktinian notion of the ‘carnivalesque’. 7. See Bakola (2010) 65-79. 8. See Wright (2007) 424-5. 9. Adopting Körte’s rather than Rutherford’s (‘on the begetting of sons’), printed by Kassel-Austin in place of the difficult papyrus reading ( ). For further discussion see the bibliography in PCG 4.140-1 and Wright (2007). 10. From the ancient Hypothesis to Wasps (lines 34-6 in Wilson’s OCT). Discussed by Gröbl (1890) 55-64, MacDowell (1995) 34, Slater (2002) 111-12, and Storey (2004), all of whom agree on the Aristophanic authorship of Proagon. 11. See Halliwell (1980), Russo (1994). 12. IG ii2.2319: cf. Pickard-Cambridge (1968) 82-3. 13. Gröbl (1890) 64.


Notes to pages 34-41 14. Mastromarco (1978). 15. Plato fr. 590: see Rosen (1989); Storey (2003) 81. 16. I develop this idea further in Wright (forthcoming). 17. See PCG III.2. frr. 467-86. 18. Cf. the parabasis of Wasps (1016-50), where Aristophanes mentions the excessive ‘cleverness’ of Clouds in relation to the audience: see Hubbard (1991). 19. Early lyric and epic poets often staked their claims to truth, originality, authenticity (etc.) in competition with other poets: e.g. Hom. Il. 2.594-600; Hes. Theog. 26-8, 526-34, 613-16; Hom. H. Apoll. 19-29, 140-78; Stesichorus fr. 192 PMG; Alcman fr. 1 PMG; Pind. Ol. 1.46-55; 10.1-6; Contest of Homer and Hesiod, etc. On this aspect of early Greek poetry see E.L. Bowie (1993), Burkert (1987), Graziosi (2002), Griffith (1990), Redfield (1990). 20. Griffith (1990) 187; cf. 191 (‘Poems were usually designed to defeat other poems’). Cf. Nünlist (1998) 154-61 on the use of metaphors and images from athletic contests to describe poetry. 21. See Barker (2009), esp. 2-27; cf. Rosen (2004) 299 on the many manifestations within Greek culture of the . 22. Bourdieu (1993) 13 n. 18. 23. See especially Bourdieu (1984) 6: ‘Taste classifies; and it classifies the classifier’. 24. Bourdieu (1977). The task of the cultural sociologist is thus ‘to extend economic calculation to all the goods, material and symbolic, without differentiation, which present themselves as rare and worthy of being sought after’ (178). Cf. Bowler (1994) on more recent developments in ‘the sociology of art’. 25. Cf. Too (1998). 26. Bourdieu (1993) 1-34; cf. Bourdieu (1996) 113-40. 27. Bourdieu (1993) 5-8, 34. 28. Bourdieu (1993) 11. 29. One immediately calls to mind (for example) Dobrov (1997), Fearn (2007), Murray and Wilson (2004), etc. 30. English (2005). 31. English (2005) 1-28; he dates the ‘modern’ period from the introduction of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1901. 32. See Griffith (1990), esp. 191: ‘“Winning” may not prove anything ... it may be more profitable, or more appropriate to “lose”. It all depends who is judging, and who your opponent is, and the real test may be as much of the judge as of the contestants’. Cf. Barker (2009) for the view that an ‘agonistic mental framework’ does not always lead to resolution; and cf. Graziosi (2002) and Rosen (2004) on the ‘winner’ of the Contest of Homer and Hesiod (and attendant problems). 33. See Pickard-Cambridge (1968) for detailed discussion of all such matters (and cf. §2.6 below). 34. Cf. Wise (1998) 178-9, who points out that Athenian tragedy and comedy were the only genre of festival poetry to be invented within ‘the new international money market’, thus possessing civic connotations separate from elite connections. 35. On all such matters see Csapo and Slater (1994) and Pickard-Cambridge (1968). 36. See (e.g.) Plut. Nic. 3; [Andoc.] in Alcib. 20-1; Dem. in Meid. 14-18, 58-61. The choregia is exhaustively discussed by Wilson (2000). 37. See Wilson (2000) 198-262. Literary references include Ar. Pol. 1341a34-6; Plut. Them. 5; Theophr. Ch. 22.1-2. 38. E.g. the Athenian Fasti and Didaskaliai (IG ii2.2319-23), IG ii2.3091, and the Roman Fasti (IGUR 215-31). For recent discussion see Csapo and Slater (1994) 39-52; de Bernardi Ferraro (1966); Wilson (2000) 236-62. 39. Vit. Aeschyl. 8-11: he was defeated either by Sophocles (in the tragic


Notes to pages 41-44 competition) or by Simonides (in the competition to write a funerary epigram for those who died at Marathon). The details of the anecdote are no doubt inaccurate, but the point of the anecdote is that Aeschylus took his own prize-winning seriously; cf. Lefkowitz (1981). By way of comparison, Sophocles’ biographer records that a victory had fatal consequences: his delight at unexpectedly winning the Dionysia caused him to choke to death (Vit. Soph. 14). 40. Ar. Knights 529-30, Peace 762-3, Wasps 1023-8; Eupolis Autolycus fr. 65. Henderson (1990, 291-7) discusses prize-winning ‘celebrity’. Storey (2003, 28890) points out that these references could be stock ‘running gags’. Quite so: but for the jokes to work it has to be plausible that a poet might let victory go to his head and behave differently as a result. We do not have to take the anecdotes literally to appreciate the attitudes which underpin them. 41. Plut. Cim. 8.9. The fact that this incident also increased Cimon’s own prestige is another indication of the high status which contemporary Athenians accorded to the competition. 42. Long. de Subl. 44.1-4. In fact Longinus’ views on prize-winning are more ambivalent than this passage alone would suggest: see below. 43. Vita Soph. 8 (= TrGF iv, Test. A1). This information, we are told, comes from Carystius of Pergamon, an otherwise obscure scholar of the second century BC who, like Aristotle, wrote a work on performance records ( : FGrHist 4.359; cf. Athenaeus 6.235). The Suda s.v. ‘Sophocles’ ( 815) gives the number of his victories as twenty-three. 44. Vita Soph. 16 (= TrGF iv, Test. A1). The biographer adds a remark of Ister [FGrHist 334 F 38] about Sophocles’ excellence (in general). 45. Lefkowitz (1981, 86): ‘The biographer appends an epigram provided by the literary forger Lobon.’ Lefkowitz in general stresses the inaccurate and derivative nature of much ancient biographical data. 46. Cf. a Hellenistic epigram, quoted by Athenaeus (13.603f-604f), which relies for its joke on Sophocles’ being seen as recurrently a ‘winner’, not just in dramatic contests but in other situations. Discussed by Tyrell (2005). 47. Cf. ibid. 35.2 (where prizes are implied rather than explicitly mentioned). 48. See Garland (2004). 49. See Kovacs (1994) 38-49. 50. Kovacs (1994) conveniently collects and translates all relevant material. For discussion see Kovacs (1990) 14-22 and Lefkowitz (1981). 51. Note that certain festivals or prizes seem to have been more prestigious than others: this could potentially complicate our argument, but there is not enough evidence to pursue this line of discussion. Was the Dionysia more important than the Lenaea? So Storey (2003, 81) and others, but contrast Rosen (1989). 52. Aul. Gell. NA 17.4. 53. Quint. Inst. Or. 10.1.72. 54. Pl. Apol. 18c-d, Gorg. 501d-502d, Rep. 6.493a, 10.602b, Symp. 175e. 55. Ar. Poet. 6.1450b. However, Ar. overlooks the fact that (in the fifth century, at least) playwrights were also responsible for directing their own plays: see Taplin (1978). Cf. Wilson (2000) 99-100 on the monuments which record victories in an unsystematic way, often omitting the names of poets or confusing poietes, didaskalos and choregos (e.g. IG i3.969, IG ii2.2325). There is some doubt whether the judges voted for poets or directors: see Pickard-Cambridge (1968) 85, and cf. my discussion of Proagon in 2.2 above. 56. See Pickard-Cambridge (1968) 95. The acting prize need not go to the performance in a winning play (e.g. IG ii2.2319, referring to the prizes in 418). 57. The precise meaning of the term used by Aristotle ( ) is difficult to convey: it has some but not all of the overtones of the English word ‘vulgar’, but in Rhet. it seems to be used primarily of a certain style of rhetorical delivery.


Notes to pages 44-47 Nevertheless, one notes that Aristotle uses the same word to describe his rivals (Clouds 525ff.). 58. For a similar, though not identical, view one might cite the fifth-century writer Gorgias, who compares the effect on the listener of tragedy, rhetoric and other types of illusion: DK82 B23; cf. his Encomium of Helen (DK82 B11). Discussed by Pohlenz (1920) 156-68; Segal (1962). 59. Ar. Poet. 9.1451b35-7. 60. See Finkelberg (2006) on ‘episodic’ plots. 61. Ar. Poet. 13.1453a33-5: one notes the similarity of this view to that of Plato in Laws 2.658e-9b (discussed above). 62. Cf. Poet. 13.1452b-15.1454b. 63. E.g. Ar. Poet. 18.1456a (poets who put too much material in their plots are hissed off stage or do badly in the contest); ibid. 17.1455a (Carcinus failed to ‘visualize’ the material in his plot properly and so failed; however, the point here is opaque: see Lucas (1968) ad loc.). 64. Elsewhere (Rep. 398a), Plato says that the most austere, least pleasing poet should be preferred (a joke, perhaps?). 65. This is not the place to discuss the eternally contested question of Aristophanic politics, but see the very helpful introductory discussion in Robson (2009) 162-87. 66. For all relevant evidence, and excellent recent discussion, see Marshall and van Willigenburg (2004). Cf. Pickard-Cambridge (1988) 96-9. 67. However, it has been argued that a relatively large proportion of Athenian citizens would at some point in their lives have performed in public, and therefore would have possessed a significant degree of theatrical ‘competence’: see Revermann (2006a) and (for a different view) Pritchard (2004). 68. Cf. Henderson (1990). 69. See Marshall and Willigenburg (2004) 100-2. 70. See (e.g.) Plut. Cim. 8.7-9 (the notorious Dionysia of 468, at which Cimon replaced all the judges); Andoc. in Alcib. 20 (Alcibiades’ chorus won a victory on one occasion because of the judges’ fear or wish to ingratiate themselves); Lys. 4.4 (on the political motives of the competitors), etc. On the last of these, Wilson (2000, 101) comments with surprise that ‘personal relations between élite individuals could be openly avowed in court as legitimate grounds for determining one’s vote’. 71. That is, unless Cratinus, Pylaea fr. 180, which refers to someone or other ‘playing a game of tropa [a sort of dice game] with Dionysiac nuts’, is a reference to the random outcome of contests. 72. Interestingly, this contrasts with the practice in Sicily and Italy, where the spectators did formally make the decision, awarding the prize by show of hands (Plato, Laws 2.659b). One might ask why this was never the case in Athens: perhaps because of the presence of non-Athenians at the Dionysia? 73. Ar. Birds 445-7. Aelian VH 2.13 presents a similar scenario, with the audience commanding the judges to vote in a certain way – though, as Dunbar (1994, 307) rightly points out, the audience’s ‘command’ was ignored on the occasion in question (the first performance of Ar. Clouds). 74. Ar. Birds 1102-4, Clouds 1115-30, Eccl. 1154-62; Pherecrates, Small Fry fr. 102. 75. Ar. Clouds 525ff., Wasps 1020ff., Frogs 805-11, fr. 688; cf. Cratinus fr. 329, Phrynichus, The Nightmare fr. 3, Telecleides fr. 4 (these and other related passages are discussed later in this section). 76. See Olson (2007) 107-14 for discussion of such passages. 77. Cf., more recently, Römer (1905) and Sedgwick (1948) 8 on the audience’s low level of taste and discernment. 78. Kennedy (1989) gives a useful bibliography.


Notes to pages 48-54 79. On theatrokratia cf. Pl. Rep. 6.429b; Demosth. in Meid. 226; Pollux 4.88; Athen. 13.583-4; Plut. Quomodo adulator 63a, De aud. poet. 33c. For recent discussion see Wallace (1997). 80. E.g. Pl. Protag. (esp. 312b, 318e, 325d-e), Rep. 2.376-3.398, 10.606d-607a; cf. Xenophanes B10 DK; Heraclitus B57 DK; Herodotus 2.53; Ar. Frogs 686, 100877, etc. See (inter alia) Ford (2002) 197-208; Herington (1985) 22-5. 81. Pl. Laws 2.659c1. 82. Pl. Rep. 2.376c-388d. 83. This is made explicit at Laws 2.672a-b. 84. Later on in the same book of the Laws (2.665b-e) Plato develops this argument even further along the same lines, suggesting that not just the adjudication but the dramatic performances themselves ought to be in the hands of an élite group (a ‘Chorus of Dionysus’, formed of old, wise men). 85. Is the verdict of a single judge better than that of the multitude? Ar. Pol. 3.1281b7 gives a contrasting view (and one which contradicts his own views elsewhere). 86. Cf. his discussion of poetry in Rep. 10 (and see Halliwell (1988) 1-29). 87. Vitruvius, de Arch. 7 pr. 6. 88. Csapo and Slater (1994) 163. 89. Ov. Trist. 2.498-501. 90. Hor. Epis. 2.1.184; Sat. 1.10.72-4. Horace elsewhere (Ars P. 224) adds that all the spectators of Greek tragedy were drunk! Cf. Athenaeus 10.427e-429f. 91. [Xen.], Ath. Pol. 1.13. Cf. Wilson (2000) 14 on the fifth-century ‘democratization’ of mousikê. 92. See Chapter 5 below. 93. Ar. Wasps 1016-17, 1044-50. 94. See §3.6 below for more discussion of the ‘old jokes’ in Frogs. 95. See Storey (2003) 300-3. 96. Did non-Athenian comedians compete at the Attic festivals? No such poets are known to us. Perhaps this is an oblique swipe at Aristophanes, who was allegedly charged with xenia by Cleon (Life of Aristophanes 22-8); see Storey (2003) 302-3. 97. E.g. Eupolis frr. 148, 366; Pherecrates fr. 155, etc. See §3.3 below. 98. Stobaeus 3.4.32. See Olson (2007) 112-13 for further discussion of this fragment. 99. The view of Edmonds (1957) 454-5. Cf. Ar. Knights 518-23 for a similar view of fickle/disloyal audiences. 100. Phrynichus also seems to represent old old comedy rather than new old comedy at Ar. Frogs 13, though neither that passage nor Phrynichus’ own selfpresentation in fr. 3 can necessarily be taken at face value. 101. Cf. Assemblywomen 796-8, where Aristophanes distances himself from ‘vulgar’ tactics (which include bribing the audience with snacks). 102. Cf. Cratinus fr. 342, discussed in §1.3. 103. I have changed the metaphor here slightly, in order to render an untranslatable pun into English: see Kassel and Austin ad loc. 104. Ar. Frogs 1118, Clouds 535, 575, Wasps 1049; Cratinus, Cheirons fr. 248, etc. 105. So Kock ad loc. 106. Bakola (2010) 50-1 favours the latter explanation: ‘Presenting oneself as in a difficult or unfair situation and expressing hope for victory is what the comic poet often does in parabases’. 107. So Segal (1961). 108. Murray (1933) 107: ‘It is difficult for us, and would have been difficult for Aristophanes himself, to say exactly what his feelings were towards Euripides


Notes to pages 54-58 and his poetry’. But Aristophanes’ intense interest in Euripides, and the intimate knowledge of the poet’s works displayed in his paratragic scenes, is scarcely a sign that Aristophanes thought Euripides a bad poet. 109. Though, as Rosen (2004) notes, the notion that the ‘wrong’ person wins goes back as far as the tradition of the Contest of Homer and Hesiod. 110. In such plays as Cratinus’ Dionysus as Paris, Aristomenes’ Dionysus Shipwrecked, Eupolis’ Taxiarchs, etc. See Sommerstein (1996) 11 on Dionysus as ‘anti-hero’; cf. Dover (1993) 10 and Pascal (1911). Dionysus is sometimes seen as the ‘typical’ or even ‘ideal’ Athenian spectator: see Slater (2000). The identification of an ‘idiotic’ Dionysus with the Athenian audience is not problematic if we are prepared to see the dêmos as a load of idiots as well. 111. Frogs 1515-23. Cf. Heiden (1991) for an ironic reading of the outcome of this agôn (whereby Aeschylus is not endorsed, despite appearances). 112. [Xen.] Ath. Pol. 2.18 says that the dêmos dislikes being abused in comedy (he means that they are not made the target of satire, but generalized abuse may be seen as part of the same phenomenon). Dio Chrys. Or. 33.9, by contrast, says that audiences enjoy being abused and tend to award the prize to the poet who abuses them most heartily. 113. Sommerstein (1996) 179. 114. Pace Sidwell (2009). 115. In fact Horace (though he is not directly comparable to the fifth-century dramatists) does represent the view that poets disdained prizes: Epis. 2.1.177-86. 116. The meaning of fr. 20 is obscure, but Hesychius ( 4455), who quotes it, tells us about its context: it seems that a play by Cratinus with a dithyrambic opening was unpopular. Cf., perhaps, Cratinus, Performance Records fr. 38, in which one [poet?] complains that another [poet? judge?] ‘hated my nice dithyrambs’. See Bakola (2010) 42-9 on these fragments and their interpretation. 117. Such a claim, even if taken at face value, would be unusual. The only possible parallel I can find is Aristophanes, Danaids fr. 265, in which a character describes someone else’s writing as ‘effortless’ – perhaps disparagement of a rival’s shoddy work? 118. So Olson (2007) 115. But of course the joke could be understood in other ways as well: perhaps Cratinus was too drunk to finish the play in time. Aelius Aristides (Or. 29.92), who quotes the fragment, tells us that it is from the play’s exodos but gives no other helpful information. 119. Poets may have read specimens of their work to the archon in their bid to be awarded a chorus (this is implied by Pl. Leg. 7.817d): see Pickard-Cambridge (1968) 84. 120. See Stevens (1956). It is important that literary contests, in common with athletic and other types of ancient contest, ranked all the competitors rather than selecting a single winner: Osborne (1993, 30) identifies this as a characteristic feature of Greek festivals. 121. Such ‘running gags’ have been discussed with great insight and sophistication by Ruffell (2002), Sidwell (1995) and Storey (2003). See also Chapter 3 below on ‘running gags’ about novelty. 122. Have I Got News For You: Hat Trick Productions for BBC Television, 1990-present. QI: Talkback Thames Productions for BBC Television, 2005-present. The website contains excellent information about all aspects of these shows, including (crucially) their paradoxically noncompetitive ethos. 123. As English (2005, 1) puts it, his subject is ‘the collective ambivalence in which these prizes are embedded, and which perhaps more than anything else accounts for our failure to come to terms with their ascendancy’. 124. See Meade (2000).


Notes to pages 58-63 125. Amis (1991) 325. Interestingly, Amis’s latest biographer interprets Amis’s Booker acceptance speech completely unironically, writing that Amis was ‘thrilled’ and had genuinely been ‘instantly converted’ to literary prizes: Powell (2008) 228. This example illustrates just how difficult it is to unearth writers’ real views about prestige and value. 126. Music is also connected to prize-winning at Eupolis fr. 392, Aristophanes frr. 590-1, and [Plut.] de Musica 1135c (though the precise meaning is obscure in each case). 127. Wilson (2000) 70. 128. Furthermore, this ties in with Pritchard’s (2004) calculation that the élite classes could provide all the participants (actors, dancers, musicians and others) in post-Cleisthenic festivals; however, contrast the view of Revermann (2006a). 129. Bourdieu (1993) 130; Bourdieu (1996) 141-73. (Cf. §2.3 above.) 130. Cf. Redfield (1990). 131. Cf. Bourdieu (1993) 8: ‘The affirmation of the primacy of form over function, of the mode of representation over the object of representation, is the most specific expression of the field’s claim to produce and impose the principles of a properly cultural legitimacy regarding both the production and reception of an artwork’. 132. Ar. Poet. 7.1450b; cf. Lucas (1968) ad loc. 133. Hall (1996), notably, concludes that there is ‘no polis in Aristotle’s Poetics’. 134. Ar. Poet. 9.1451b. 135. Ar. Poet. 6.1450b. 136. Ar. Poet. 26.1462a. 137. Ar. Poet. 14.1453b. Here, as often, Aristotle’s meaning is problematic, since he implies that one does not even need to read the play but only to hear the plot summarized: see Lucas (1968) ad loc. 138. On the date and authorship of de Subl. see Russell (1964) xxii-xxx. 139. Long. de Subl. 6.1. 140. See Marshall and van Willigenburg (2004). Cf. Ar. Eccl. 1154-62, which implies that the last performance of the day had an unfair advantage over the others, since it would be fresh in the judges’ minds when they considered their verdict. 141. This is unlikely but not impossible: see Page (1934) 108. 142. In particular, L. mentions the voting (33.4). 143. Long. de Subl. 7.2-3. 144. Even earlier writers such as Pindar seem to envisage the permanent survival and transmission of their poems, which may hint at textual preservation. Pindar compares his work to other material objects including statues, monuments and buildings: see Ol. 6.1-4; Pyth. 3.113-14; Nem. 4.79, 5.1-2, 8.46-7. Cf. Nünlist (1998) 83-125. 145. See Macleod (1983). 146. As Greenwood (2006, 21) points out, Thucydides’ claim that his work is not competitive is itself inherently competitive. 147. So Moles (2001) 206; cf. Greenwood (2006) 3-5. Ford (2003) contrasts Thucydides’ stress on writing ( , 1.1.22) with Herodotus’ description of his work as a ‘display’ ( , 1.1). 148. See Bakola (2010) 34-5, Storey (2003) 206 on this fragment, which may come from a parabasis or parodos. 149. This does, admittedly, raise the problem of the apparent lack of a fixed, stable text of the Attic dramatists before the decree of Lycurgus in the 340s BC: see Garland (2004) 25-6. 150. Silk (2000): 4-6 (citing Knights 515ff.); cf. Lowe (1993); MacDowell (1995): 34-41.


Notes to pages 63-69 151. See Athenaeus 6.270a for citations of these unperformed comedies. Cf. Menander’s Imbrians (P.Oxy. 1253), which was unperformed only because it was suppressed by the tyrant Lachares. Some authors revised earlier plays, but it is unlikely that they would be guaranteed a repeat performance: perhaps they circulated as books. Revermann (2006b, 326-32) provides up-to-date discussion of all these issues and cites much useful evidence. 152. On the perceived Athenocentrism of Greek drama, see (most recently) Rhodes (2003). 153. Cf. Aristophanes’ description of Sthenelus ‘shorn of his props’ (Wasps 1312-13) – implying that this dramatist was over-reliant on spectacle at the expense of the words? 154. Rosen (2006) 411. 155. This is explicitly acknowledged by Aristophanes at Assemblywomen 11559. 156. The ‘literariness’ of comedy is explored further in Chapter 5 below. 157. Notably in Theopompus fr. 79, in which it is suggested that booksellers should be stoned to death. See excellent and wide-ranging discussion in Slater (1996), Woodbury (1986), Ford (2003); cf. Wright (2010) on fifth-century tragic references to literacy. 158. See Thomas (1989) and Johnson and Parker (2009) for detailed discussion of ancient literacy in its social context. 159. See Dover (1993) and Sommerstein (1996) ad loc.; notable discussions among those cited there include Harvey (1966) 601-3 and Woodbury (1986) 351-7. 160. See Ostwald (1986) 199-228 on upper-class opposition to the demagogues, expressed in terms of social and intellectual as well as political values. See Kraus (1985) for the view that Aristophanes’ view of the Athenian public in Knights is seriously pejorative and cynical. 161. Cf. Pohlenz (1920) 442-3: ‘Denn hier geht die Beurteilung nicht auf die Wirkung, sondern auf den Stil, ist nicht ethisch, sondern ästhetisch’. See also Chapter 1 for discussion of the social function of drama and poetry. 162. Lowe (1993) 77. 163. Frogs 71-2, 93-5. See Sommerstein (1996) 12-13 on the inconsistency. 164. English (2005) 187. 165. Cf. the approach of Marxist criticism, which sees aesthetic ideas as arising out of specific social and political conditions: Eagleton (1990) provides a useful discussion and critique of the relationship between aesthetics and political ideology (from Kant onwards). 166. Ford (2000) 4 (with n. 8) acknowledges the influence of Bourdieu in his own work, though he does not refer to his theories explicitly. 167. On changes to the Athenian festivals in the later classical and Hellenistic period, see Easterling (1997) and Le Guen (1995). Another date of major importance is 386 BC, at which the festival was rearranged to allow revivals of old plays (see TrGF I DID A I 201; cf. Pickard-Cambridge (1968) 91-3). Roman literary culture and theatrical performances were not based on institutionalized competition: for discussion of Roman writers, audiences and literary consumption in general see Bernstein (1998); Blänsdorf (1990). 168. Cf. O’Sullivan (1992); Pohlenz (1920). 169. See Heath (1987). 170. So Todd (1996), writing about the modern Booker Prize, which (he argues) thrives ‘precisely by getting it wrong’. 171. Mark Lawson in the London Independent (6 September, 1994). As if to illustrate this claim, an official pamphlet issued by the prize organizers (The Man Booker Prize: 35 Years of the Best in Contemporary Fiction: London, 2003) devotes a lengthy section (‘Hitting the Headlines’) to such scandals.


Notes to pages 70-75 3. Novelty 1. This useful phrase is taken from Goldhill (1991): see Chapter 1 above. 2. This is close to the position of Hesk (2000), who sees comedy as encouraging debate (in an open-ended sense): this protreptic function is seen as socially or politically important, even if the comedians do not have a ‘message’ (as such) for their audience. 3. Pl. Laws 656c-657b, 660a-b, 797a-c, Rep. 4.424c; cf. Ar. Poet. 1451b-52a, Pol. 1341a. 4. Longinus, On the Sublime 5.1; cf. Seneca, Epis. 114.10. 5. See (e.g.) Pl. Laws 659a-c, 700a-e, 797a-c; Ar. Poet. 1459b30; see PickardCambridge (1968) 275. Cf. the discussion in §5.5 below. 6. See Hubbard (1991), esp. 29-33; Platter (2007); cf. Dover (1968) lxxx-xcviii on the two versions of Clouds. 7. Did Aristophanes invent the ‘demagogue comedy’? See Sommerstein (2000). 8. Both dianoia and idea in normal usage can refer to either subject-matter (content) or ‘ideas’ (in a broader sense). The Greek idea in particular came, in later criticism, to mean ‘style’ (as in Hermogenes’ Peri Ideôn; cf. Isoc. 2.48, 15.47; Rhet. Alex. 1425a9, etc.), but it cannot be said to support this meaning in these Aristophanic passages. Cf. Harriott (1969) 136 n. 3. Dianoia is used by Aristotle to mean ‘intellect’ (see Lucas (1968) 106), but again there is no need to assume that Aristophanes and Aristotle exactly coincide. 9. See Dover (1968) ad loc. on the details of this ‘plagiarism’. The joke about eels is probably a reference to Knights 864-7. 10. See Biles (2002), Bakola (2008), Roux (1976), Ruffell (2002). 11. Slater (2002) 360. 12. The idea is seen at Thesm. 148-70: see Austin and Olson (2004) ad loc. (they argue that Aristophanes is reflecting a theory that was already current); cf. Ach. 410-11 and fr. 694 ( ). The history of the idea is discussed by Paduano (1996) and Arrighetti (1987) 151-2. Cf. further discussion in §4.5. 13. Long. On the Sublime 9.11-5. It is worth comparing, from more recent times, Said (2006) for his intriguing discussion of ‘late style’ in a variety of modern authors and creative artists. 14. Theognis as ‘frigid’: Ar. Ach. 138-40, Thesm. 170; cf. Ar. Ach. 9 (reporting that Theognis’ nickname was ‘Snow’); see Dover (1993) 21. Cratinus as drunkard: Ar. Ach. 1166-73, Kn. 526-36; cf. Athen. Epit. 2.39c; Hor. Epi. 1.19.1. The image was exploited by Cratinus himself in The Wine-flask. See Bakola (2008) for the way in which poets created ‘distinct and relatively consistent personae’ through the use of recurrent words and catchphrases. Cf. Harriott (1969) 137 on the use of one-word ‘labels’ to describe individual poets. 15. Bremer (1993) 135-9, 160-4; Dover (1968) ad loc.; Harriott (1969) 989; MacDowell (1971) ad loc.; Sommerstein (1992) 15-19; Slater (2002) 359-63; Zimmermann (2006) 5-6, etc. Bakola (2008), Biles (2002), and Ruffell (2002) bring more nuance to the discussion, talking of authorial claims in terms of ‘discourse’ or a ‘rhetoric’ of ‘running gags’, but they still see Aristophanes as essentially embodying, and endorsing, kainotês. 16. Silk (2000a) 45. 17. In the parabasis of Clouds (537-44) Aristophanes ostensibly rejects jokes that he employs elsewhere in the play; cf. Peace 739-48 for a similar effect. Aristophanes also makes jokes about Hyperbolus’ mother (Thesm. 839ff.), which contradicts his claim at Clouds 552. 18. Silk (2000a) 47-54 and passim; cf. §5.4 below on Euripidean parodies.


Notes to pages 75-80 19. See Chapter 1 above on irony, polyphony and all such matters. Cf. the problematic approach of de Ste. Croix (1972) 355-71 for an example of the arbitrary division of comedy into ‘straight’ and ‘ironic’ sections. 20. Cf. Hesk (2000) on the way in which Aristophanic parabases are often ‘intratextually’ undercut by the rest of the play in which they appear. This aspect of Clouds has been seen by numerous critics – notably Dover (1968) ad loc. and Hubbard (1991) 88-105 – but its implications for Aristophanic poetics have not always been fully appreciated. 21. E.g. Clouds 520, 521-2, 526, 534-6, 547-8, 1031-2. Cf. 3.3 below (on the similarities between Aristophanes’ self-presentation and the characterization of the Worse Argument in Clouds). 22. A metrical innovation is denoted: the fragment is quoted by Hephaestion 15.23. See Dale (1968) 61 for discussion. 23. See Edmonds (1957) 67 for the suggestion that reference is being made to a stage boat (though note that a similar property is probably used elsewhere: e.g. Archippus, Dionysus Shipwrecked, Eupolis, Demes and Taxiarchs, Ar. Frogs, etc.). 24. Cf. all the other metaphorical references to drama as ‘food’: e.g. Ar. Knights 538-9, Clouds 523, Birds 462-3, fr. 347; Astydamas fr. 14; Pherecrates fr. 84 (see §4.7 below). 25. See Storey (2003) 87-8, referring to Kaibel’s view that the two characters depicted are rival comedians depicted as slaves (perhaps Aristophanes versus Eupolis); cf. Edmonds (1957) 329. 26. E.g. Antiphanes frs 30, 207; Alexis fr. 300; Anaxandrides frr. 35, 55; Anaxilas fr. 27; Amphis fr. 14. 27. Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae Book 6 (esp. 222c-223e) is much concerned with novelty (in food, literature, and culture). See Wilkins (2000b) for discussion. Tragedy and comedy are commonly contrasted on the basis of inherited versus invented material: see Taplin (1986). 28. E.g. Diphilus, Olive-Grove Guards fr. 29; Timocles, Women at the Dionysia fr. 6; Xenarchus, Porphyra fr. 7 (all quoted by Athenaeus). 29. See Griffith (1990) 185-207; Lanata (1963) 18-19; Ledbetter (2003) 64-6. 30. See Ledbetter (2003) 34-9. 31. Hesiod fr. 297 MW; Alcman fr. 14 PMG; Alcaeus fr. 30 PMG; Pindar Ol. 3.4-6, 9.47-9; cf. 1.29, 2.86-8, 3.4-6, 9.80-3, fr. 70b Snell; Bacchylides fr. 5 Maehler. Stesichorus fr. 192 PMGF is implicitly based on innovation. Wright (2010) sees novelty as one among various principles underlying the poetics of Greek tragedy. 32. See §1.5. 33. See §3.6 below. 34. Bacchylides, Paeans fr. 5 Maehler. The same sentiment is expressed by Choerilus (fr. 1 Bernabé), and it seems to be implicit in Aristophanes’ Danaids fr. 265. 35. See §5.4 for further discussion. 36. Words change their meanings: Ar. Clouds (esp. 358, 385-97, 638, 658-73, etc.); Thuc. 3.82. Cf. Ar. Banqueters frs 205-6, 233. See Loraux (1986). 37. Williams (1976) 11-12; his work is based largely on the German school of historical semantics, with its focus on ‘fields of meaning’ (Bedeutungsfelder); he acknowledges a specific debt to Trier (1931); cf. Öhman (1953). 38. Notable discussions include Forrest (1975), Handley (1993), and the contributors to Osborne (2007). 39. See Sommerstein (2000) on ‘demagogue comedies’. On the new style of politicians, see (e.g.) [Arist.] Ath. Pol. 28; Thuc. 2.65, 3.36, 4.21, 6.12-13; Isocrates 8.126-7; Plutarch, Nicias 2, etc. Excellent discussion in Ostwald (1986) 199-249.


Notes to pages 80-84 40. E.g. Ar. Gerytades frs 156-90; Ameipsias, Connus frs 7-10; Eupolis, Flatterers frs 156-80, Platon Sophists frs 145-6; Cratinus, All-Seeing Ones, etc. See Carey (2000). 41. Dunn (2007) 2: his whole approach reflects ‘future shock’ as formulated by Toffler (1970). 42. Hughes (1991). 43. Compare Plato’s use of kainos as a pejorative term for the sophists and their questionable ideas: Pl. Euthyd. 271b, Rep. 405d, etc. 44. Thuc. 1.23 (and cf. Chapter 2 above). 45. Thuc. 3.82.3: see Hornblower (1996) ad loc.; cf. Thuc. 1.71; Xen. Cyr. 8.8.16; Isoc. 6.50, etc. Neôterismos: Thuc. 1.97, 1.102, 1.115, 3.66; Pl. Rep. 422a, 555d; Lys. 20.16, etc. Those who voted in the 1997 General Election in the UK will recall the Conservatives’ slogan ‘New Labour, New Danger’. 46. See McDermott (1991); cf. Wright (2008) 124-6, Wright (2010). On Euripidean ‘New Music’ see Csapo (2000), Hall (1999). 47. Cf. also (perhaps) the character Euripides’ complaint (Thesm. 177-9) that he has been struck by a ‘novel’ disaster ( ): another pointed in-joke? 48. Kannicht (1969) 1.21-4. 49. See West (1992) 356-72. 50. Hordern (2002) 228-30. Timotheus also seems to be engaged in a competitive dialogue with his own (real or imagined) critics: cf. fr. 791.216, where he mentions – either ‘corrupters of the old Muse’ or ‘oldfashioned corrupters of the Muse’ (Hordern’s preferred translation); also cf. frr. 778b, 802 for agonistic content. 51. See Barker (1984) 96-7 for more discussion of Timotheus; Barker points out that Timotheus ‘was not an unthinking iconoclast’. 52. E.g. Ar. Thesm. 39-69, 95-174 (Agathon); Clouds 972 (Phrynis); Frogs 12961318 (Euripides) See Barker (1984) 99-116 for translation and commentary on all relevant passages; cf. Barker (2004) for an interesting, speculative discussion of the music of the Nightingale in Birds. 53. E.g. Clouds 333-9, Peace 827-31, Frogs 366, Eccl. 330, Gerytades fr. 156; Platon fr. 184; cf. also Lysias fr. 53. See Barker (1984) 106-7. I return to Cinesias in Chapter 4. 54. See the various contributions to Murray and Wilson (2004). 55. Cf. Pl. Symp. 215c, Laws 669a-670a; Aristotle, Politics 1341a, etc. Csapo (2004) discusses the phenomenon at length. 56. Too (1998), esp. 207-8. 57. Compare, perhaps, the running theme of nostalgia for ‘the good old days’ in fifth-century comedy: e.g. Crates, Wild Beasts frr. 16-17; Cratinus, Children of Euneus fr. 71, Wealth-Gods fr. 176, Cheirons frr. 256-7, 300; Telecleides, Amphictyons fr. 1. The theme of nostalgia is discussed by Schwinge (1977); cf. Storey (2003) 140. 58. Smith (2009) 26. 59. Wasps 218-21, 269. 60. Athenaeus’s framing text ( , 623e) has been thought to preserve or paraphrase some of Eupolis’ original words: see Kassel-Austin, PCG v.502; cf. Storey (2003) 333 for discussion of this fragment. 61. Cf. Rosen’s (2006) discussion of ‘fandom’ and comedy’s contribution to the ‘classicization’ of authors. Cf. Slater (2002) 351, arguing that comedy’s purpose in relation to the audience ‘is nearly always to redirect its attention or to shape or reshape the behavior of that audience’. 62. Cf. Birds 903-57, where a so-called ‘clever’ poet who tries to recite Simonides and Pindar is sent packing.


Notes to pages 84-93 63. Meineke included fr. 398 PCG among the fragment of Helots on the basis of its similarity to fr. 148 (discussion of which follows). 64. Apart from Clouds (passim), Socrates is seen as clever or new-fangled (in a pejorative or neutral sense) in (e.g.) Phrynichus, Muses fr. 32, Telecleides frr. 41-2, Frogs 1491-9, etc. See Beta (1999), Carey (2000), Noël (1997). 65. Cratinus, Softies fr. 97, Seasons fr. 256; cf. Athenaeus 638e (Gnesippus as a target of comic mockery). 66. Cf. Wasps 1069-70, Ach. 716 (the young are dissolute); Frogs 1043-56 (Euripides encourages sexual immorality); Pherecrates, Cheiron fr. 155 (see above) and fr. 156 (sons’ disrespect for their fathers), etc. 67. See Storey (2003) 347-8. 68. See Eagleton’s (1983, 1-14) provocative discussion of the question ‘What is Literature?’ 69. This observation relates back to Bourdieu’s theories of ‘taste’, discussed in Chapter 2 above. 70. Clouds 915; cf. 821, 1469. A similar usage is seen at Cratinus fr. 153, Pherecrates fr. 228. See Dover (1968) on Clouds 821. 71. Cf. Birds 255-7 for ironical ‘admiration’ of the novel ideas of idiotic characters. 72. So Sommerstein (1998) ad loc. 73. See Halliwell (1993) 224-5. 74. Lucian, Bis Accus. 33; cf. Pisc. 25. Sidwell (2000) demonstrates the breadth and detail of Lucian’s knowledge of not just comedy but also ancient scholarship relating to comedy. Whitmarsh (2001) 75 calls Lucian’s dialogues ‘a confection of earlier genres, particularly philosophy and old comedy’. 75. A similar outlook is seen at (e.g.) Prometheus 4; Hippias 8. Whitmarsh (2001) 71-8 is good at unpicking the irony in these texts and connecting Lucian’s ‘novelty’ to questions of literary tradition and mimêsis. 76. Contra Silk (1988), who argues forcefully for the ‘autonomy’ of the genre. 77. Listen very carefully: I shall say this only once. 78. This phenomenon is seen on a small scale at (e.g.) Frogs 1200-47, where the words are repeated ad nauseam; cf. Birds 974-89, Eccl. 221-8 (etc.) for similar use of verbal repetition. Miller (1945) is a detailed study of the humour of verbal ‘iteration’. Hesk’s (2007) study of the phenomenon of verbal ‘capping’ in Aristophanes is also comparable in some respects. 79. Bergson (1913) 36; Frye (1957) 168; Kawin (1972) 1-9. 80. Kristeva (1986) 37. 81. Eco (2005) 206. 82. Genette (1982) 7-14; cf. 135-40 (on ‘l’autopastiche’). 83. Cf. Ar. Clouds 550-9 (see above); Hermippus, Porters fr. 64 (accusing Phrynichus of ripping him off); Cratinus fr. 90 (cf. Ar. Thesm.); Lysippus, Bacchae fr. 4: widely discussed by (e.g.) Harvey (2000) 110-11; Heath (1990); Pohlenz (1912); Ruffell (2002); Stemplinger (1912); Storey (2003) 202-14. On ‘authorial collaboration’ – the idea is clearly a non-starter – see Halliwell (1989); cf. Sidwell (1995). 84. Heath (1990). 85. Cf. Ruffell (2002) 141 on ‘defamiliarization’. 86. Sommerstein (1996) ad loc., comparing Wasps 60, Peace 741, Birds 567, Cratinus fr. 346, Alexis fr. 140 and other passages for the idea of Heracles as glutton. Cf. Dover (1993) 198. 87. Cf. Aristophanes’ use of to denote an oblique, hidden meaning at Peace 47. 88. Cf. Ach. 1141 (a reaction to horrible weather), Lys. 312 (smoke in one’s eyes), Peace 248 (Trygaeus’ response to the news that Megara is about to be


Notes to pages 93-98 crushed); Sommerstein (1996) also compares Eur. Hipp. 310 (Phaedra’s scream when Hippolytus’ name is mentioned). 89. See §4.7 below. 90. Hegemon: PCG v, pp. 546-7. See Athenaeus 1.5a-b; 9.406e for the nickname. Cf. Brandt (1888) i. 37-49 for further discussion. 91. Euripides was seen, perhaps, as the sort of poet who inspired obsessive passion. As well as Dionysus’ pothos for Euripides at Frogs 56-7, compare the title Phileuripides, used for comedies by Philippides and Axionicus. Cf. Foley (2008) on this Aristophanic ‘signature theme’ (sic). 92. The text of fr. 346 is corrupt but the overall sense is clear: I translate Bergk’s in preference to the transmitted text . See Kassel and Austin ad loc. (PCG iv pp. 290-1). 93. See, particularly, Gerytades frs 156-7. It is not clear whether or not Euripides featured as a character, but the dead poets definitely included Sannyrion, Meletus and Cinesias. 94. Pherecrates frs 85-104: see Kassel and Austin ad loc. (PCG vii pp. 143-52); cf. Norwood (1931) 159-60. 95. Many of these common themes are pointed out by Dover (1993) and Sommerstein (1996) ad locc. 96. It has also been argued that, since phrynê is the Greek for ‘toad’, the frogchorus is supposed to make the audience think of Phrynichus: see Demand (1970). This suggestion is implausible (though it is made in exactly the right sort of spirit). 97. Cf. Ar. Assemblywomen 828. 98. Xanthias actually says that is in his bedclothes: the other level to the joke is that Korinthioi was a slang term for bedbugs ( ): so Dover (1993) ad loc., comparing Clouds 710. 99. Genette (1982) 135-40. 100. See Austin-Olson (2004) lxvii-lxxxix; MacDowell (1995) 323-7; Sommerstein (2001) 28-33. 101. I can trace only three other revisions in the history of Old Comedy: Diocles wrote two plays called Thyestes; Telecleides wrote two plays called Hard Men (Sterroi); Eupolis wrote two Autolycuses. Galen mentions this last example when discussing the term (‘to be a revised version’) in his Commentary on Hippocrates’ On Regimen in Acute Diseases 1.4. Storey (2003, 82-4), suggests that Aristophanes may have revised Clouds precisely because Eupolis had just revised Autolycus, but this seems unlikely: Aristophanes is more widely to be seen as a self-recycler while Eupolis is not. 102. Dover (1968, ad loc.) misses the point here, I think, saying that ‘this community of theme helps to explain why Ar. expected Clouds to succeed’. 103. See (e.g.) Dover (1968) lxxx-xcviii; Hubbard (1991) 90-106; Newiger (1957) 144-50, all of whom refer in detail to much nineteenth-century German scholarship on the subject. 104. On the question of textuality vs performance see Hubbard (1991) 97-8, Russo (1994) 105 and Revermann (2006b) 326-32 (who believe that the revised Clouds was designed for performance), contra Wilamowitz (1921) 121-6 and Rosen (1997) 401 (who believe that the revision was not intended to be performed). Rosen believes that the revised parabasis deliberately exploits the tension between the performance and the fixed text. 105. See Hypothesis III to Clouds in Wilson’s OCT (2007, 133-4). 106. So Hubbard (1991) 105 and others. 107. Ar. Clouds 96 (= Ar. Test. 29 PCG), pointing out in particular that the portrayal of Socrates in Clouds is based on Cratinus’ portrayal of Hippon. Storey (2003) also draws our attention to the similarities between Clouds and Eupolis’ Goats.


Notes to pages 98-108 108. This useful distinction is made by Hinds (1998, 34-5) in his general discussion of allusion and intertextuality.

4. The metaphorical language of criticism 1. Cf. Crowther (2003) 87-8, who describes such a cognitive process in terms of the ‘latent perceptual field’ specific to an individual. 2. The classic exposition of poetic ambiguity remains Empson (1947). Silk’s (1974) discussion of ‘interaction’ in poetic imagery is concerned with a related effect (the unstable relationship between ‘tenor’ and ‘vehicle’ in metaphorical usage). 3. Cf. Aristotle’s view (Rhetoric 3.3.3-4, 1406a-b) that metaphors in general belong to the language of poetry rather than prose. 4. Bloom (1982) 16; cf. De Man’s (1979, 140) view that the distinction between ‘literature’ and ‘criticism’ is a delusion (and also see my remarks, at the start of Chapter 2, concerning Aestheticism and the ‘competition’ between the critic and the material being criticized). 5. Cf. Ledbetter’s (2003, 2) view of the purpose of poetic self-reflection in Homer, Hesiod and Pindar: ‘to minimize interpretation by poetry’s audiences in an effort to maintain the poet’s authority over his work’. 6. See (e.g.) Ortony (1993) and Kövecses (2002). 7. Innes (2003) summarizes Aristotle, Quintilian and other ancient theorists, all of whom see metaphor as ‘a mode of expression, not content’ (8). The contributors to Boys-Stones (2003) are all concerned with aspects of metaphor (and allegory) in ancient theory and practice, mostly but not exclusively from a ‘non-constructivist’ angle. 8. Cf. Richards’ (1936) distinction between ‘tenor’ and ‘vehicle’. 9. Lakoff and Johnson (1980). 10. Cf. the difficulty of distinguishing between ‘living’ metaphors and ‘dead’ metaphors (or clichés): see Silk (1974) 27-56. 11. E.g. my own use of the phrase ‘an important tool’ in the paragraph above: it was hard to think how else to express the meaning I wanted. 12. Nünlist (1998). Taillardat (1965) often finds parallels for Aristophanic imagery in earlier poetry, but is less systematic. Cf. (more generally) Lanata (1963), Verdenius (1983) 16-20. 13. See (e.g.) Campbell (1983), Steiner (1986), Ledbetter (2003) for examples of various approaches to the material. 14. By contrast, Aristophanes’ use of metaphors to describe other areas of activity is exuberantly inventive: see Taillardat (1965) passim. 15. So Taillardat (1965) 19-20; Müller (1974). 16. Pohlenz (1920); O’Sullivan (1992) takes a very similar approach in some respects. 17. Denniston (1927); cf. Radermacher (1954), Handley (1953), Muecke (1982), Taillardat (1965) 467-8; Müller (1974). Pfeiffer (1968) 46-7 is more sceptical. 18. Willi (2003) detects little technical language in comedy, and concludes that ‘technical’ language was imperfectly developed during the fifth century and did not yet exist independently of normal usage. 19. Dover (1993) 32. 20. See Clayman (1977). 21. Denniston (1927) 113. 22. See (e.g.) Rutherford (1998). 23. See Van Hook (1917) and Gutzwiller (1969) for detailed discussion of psychrotês in later rhetorical theory. 24. Demetrius On Style 115-127; cf. Arist. Rhet. 3.3.2-6, 1405b-1406c. 25. Cf. Kaimio and Nykopp (1997) 26-8.


Notes to pages 109-114 26. According to Aristotle (Poetics 1448a31). Unfortunately, we know too little about the comic tradition in Megara to be able to evaluate it properly: see Pickard-Cambridge (1962) 178-87. 27. Alexis fr. 184; Machon fr. 16 (twice). Kaimo and Nykopp (1997) 28 suggest that it refers to far-fetched puns. 28. Cf. Dunbar (1995) ad loc. 29. For Theognis’ remains see TrGF i.28 (only two fragments survive). 30. The word psychros is used of a man’s life elsewhere in Aristophanes ( , Wealth 263-4), to denote a wretched or difficult existence, but this was obviously not the normal sense of the word: the scholiast ad loc. felt the need to supply a gloss ( ). See Taillardat (1965) 322. 31. This tendency was criticized by ‘serious’ critics as well: in Aristotle (Poetics 1459a9, Rhetoric 1406b1) ‘dithyrambic’ is used of compound words in general; cf. Plato, Cratylus 409c. 32. I print the text as presented in Henderson’s Loeb edition. Olson (1998) and Wilson’s new OCT (2007) print (‘fair-weathery-airyshadowy-swimmy’): see Olson (1998) ad loc. for detailed discussion. Of course comedy itself frequently uses monstrous compound words in other contexts as a source of humour, e.g. Ar. Lys. 457-8, Assemblywomen 1169-75; cf. Eustathius, 1277.49 on . See Henderson (1987) 127; Robson (2009) 72-3. 33. E.g. Alcman frr. 39-40, 307; Anacreon frr. 394a, 453; Bacchylides 4.7-8; Simonides fr. 606; Theognis 939; etc. See Nünlist (1998) 39-54 for various other references and detailed discussion; Barker (2004) is an interesting discussion of nightingale and other avian imagery in Aristophanes’ Birds and elsewhere. Cf. Ar. Thesm. 168, where Philocles is called a ‘tufted lark’. 34. Aristophanes’ penchant for giving physical form to abstract ideas has been widely noted: in Clouds it is also exemplified in the personified Dissoi Logoi. See Newiger (1957) 142-3; Harriott (1969) 97; Vamvouri-Ruffy (2004). 35. It was not just the comedians who used ‘smoke’ in this sense: Dover (1968) ad loc. compares Eur. Hipp. 954. 36. The meaning of the nickname is elucidated by Hesychius (K 716). 37. The joke is explained thus by the scholiast ad loc., but it remains slightly baffling. MacDowell (1971) 152 writes: ‘the joke is, perhaps, that Bdelykleon, being a character in Aristophanes, does not wish to be thought the product of an inferior dramatist’. 38. As MacDowell (1971, ad loc.) explains, the name is formed from , which (although it is found only in this play) must mean ‘swank’ or ‘bluster’ (cf. Wasps 325, 1243, 1267), and Aeschines’ father’s real name, which evidently ended in . 39. Dover (1968) lii. 40. E.g. Clouds 153, 161, 320, 359, 1404; Birds 318; Ach. 445; Cratinus fr. 342; Hermippus, Demesmen fr. 21; Anaxandrides fr. 37; Alexis fr. 223. See Denniston (1927) 119, Dover (1968) 114. 41. Frogs 828, 876, 956, 1108, 1111. 42. So Harriott (1969) 155. 43. See Farioli (2004). In Myrmidons the scales weighed men’s fates (as in Homer, Iliad 22.208-13). 44. Most recently Russell (1981) 132-3, O’Sullivan (1992) and Hunter (2009) 29-36. 45. O’Sullivan (1992) 16-19, following Pohlenz (1920). O’Sullivan shows in detail how Aristophanes reflects sophistic interests in numerous ways, and points out certain precise formulations in Frogs (1021, 1367) that seem to be quotations from Gorgias (B24 DK), but it must be said that these similarities are suggestive rather than conclusive; cf. Dover (1993) 31-2.


Notes to pages 114-119 46. See Wardy (1997) on the relationship between Gorgias and the early development of rhetoric. 47. Cf. the discussion in Chapter 2 above. 48. Aristotle, Ath. Pol. 28.3; Aeschines 1.25; Thucydides 3.36.6. See Ostwald (1986) 216-17; O’Sullivan (1992) 115-22. 49. The image of thunder is also used by Aristophanes of Aeschylus’ style (at Frogs 814), as is the image of mountains (Frogs 929) and cliffs (Clouds 1367): O’Sullivan (1992) connects all these images with the underlying idea of the ‘grand’ style. Cf. Cratinus fr. 324, which also refers to the very big size of an orator’s tongue. 50. The most difficult element to interpret is the verb (380), which usually means ‘French-kiss’ (Clouds 51; cf. the discussion of Thesm. 131 below) but may have a different meaning here (connected with Cleon’s tongue – – also a symbol of his command of rhetoric): Olson (2002, ad loc.) discusses this and other interpretative issues in detail. 51. Storey (2003) 134. 52. Cf., notably, Gorgias’ metaphor-heavy description of rhetoric and its effects in his Encomium of Helen (DK B11): see Segal (1961), Porter (1993). 53. See Nünlist (1998) 83-125 (who gives an exhaustive list of references to passages which directly or indirectly evoke the metaphor). Svenbro (1984) 12736 and Ford (2002) 93-112 also discuss the lyric poets’ association of songs and artefacts. 54. Quoted by Plutarch (On the Glory of the Athenians 3.346f). See Lanata (1963) 68-9. 55. Democritus B21, B142 DK; cf. B119 for the description of poets as ‘fashioners’ of tales ( ). 56. Gorgias B11 DK (§§8, 11, 18). See Segal (1962), Lanata (1963) 200-4. 57. See Guthrie (1971) 176-225. 58. Cf. Muecke (1982). 59. The same description is used of Euripidean style at Ar. Frogs 956; there may be a connection with rhetorical fluency or precision (cf. Sommerstein (1996) 240). 60. Cf. Eupolis fr. 326, discussed in Chapter 3 above. 61. See Dover (1993) ad loc. for detailed discussion of these words and their translation. 62. The fragment is quoted by the scholiast on Ar. Peace 749 (quoted above), a line which uses more or less the same phrase to describe Aristophanes’ own poetry: is Aristophanes parodying Pherecrates as well as Aeschylus? 63. So O’Sullivan (1992) 3-22. Cf., perhaps, Aristophanes fr. 657, where someone’s voice is said to be built up like a fortified wall. 64. The text and translation pose certain difficulties at this point: see Wilson (2007) 173 and Dover (1993) 292-3. As elsewhere, I have translated Wilson’s version as in the OCT, but this does not have a large effect on one’s overall interpretation of the passage and its metaphors (since Aristophanes is not describing a real manufacturing process). 65. The description ‘overworked’ is taken from Dover (1993) ad loc., who (I think) misses the point. 66. Cf. Silk (2000a) 197-8, who notes that the contrast is ‘not schematically precise but the more interesting for that’. 67. There is some uncertainty about the exact meaning of the text: see KasselAustin ad loc.; however, the source of the metaphor is clear enough. 68. Storey (2003) 294, following the general approach of Taillardat (1965). Cf. Harriott (1969) 96 (though she is mistaken in her view that the comedians were the first to use craft metaphors to describe poetic composition).


Notes to pages 120-124 69. See Henderson (1991) and Robson (2006) on comedy’s penchant for obscenity and bodily subject-matter. 70. Cf. Sommerstein (1981, 171) on this latter passage, who points out that this is ‘an adaptation of a Homeric simile (Iliad 11.492-5). Conceivably there is a hint that Cratinus bore a resemblance to Ajax, of whom the original simile was used, and who had the reputation of being powerful and intrepid but not very intelligent’. Elsewhere (Ach. 848-53) Cratinus is mentioned in connection with another poet, Artemon, who was ‘too hasty with his poetry’. 71. Egan (2005) argues that a similar association of urine with bad poetry is seen also at Ar. Peace 1265-9. 72. The satirical television show Spitting Image (Thames TV, 1984-96) included a comparable caricature of the Labour politician Roy Hattersley, whose copious production of saliva was used as a symbol of his political ideas (see http://www. 73. Ar. Frogs 145-6 also mentions the river of diarrhoea as a feature of the Underworld (apparently not in a metapoetic sense). 74. E.g. Horace, Satires 1.4, 1.10; Quintilian 10.1.78, 10.1.94; Callimachus, Hymn to Apollo 108-10, Aetia fr. 1; Longinus On the Sublime 9.13, 12.3, 13.1, 13.3, 32.1, 35.4. See Matelli (1987) 183-90, McCall (1969). 75. See Hall (2000) on the connection of femininity and metapoetic personifications. 76. [Plut.] On Music 30 (Mor. 1141d-2a). See Olson (2007) 182-6 for detailed discussion of the fragment. 77. Cf. the image of the Muse as ‘pimp’ at Ar. Wasps 1028. 78. So Dover (1993) and Sommerstein (1996) ad loc.; cf. Borthwick (1994) 26-8. This is not the only interpretation: see Hall (2000) 409. 79. Hall (2000) 409 (emphasis taken from the original). 80. It may be relevant that the Muse’s depiction and the parody of Euripidean lyrics at Frogs 1309-22 recall elements of Euripides’ Hypsipyle in particular: see Dover (1993) ad loc. 81. E.g. Palatine Anthology 13.29, Horace Epistles 1.19.1-3; cf. Kassel-Austin ad loc. 82. See also, however, Euripides, Suppl. 180-3, Her. 767, and (for in the sense of ‘creation’ generally) Bacchylides 10.46; Solon fr. 6; Theognis 153, 392. 83. Dover (1968) xlii interprets the metaphor in a philosophical rather than a literary sense, relating it to Plato’s description of himself as a ‘midwife’ at the birth of other people’s ideas (Theaetetus 150e). 84. Seneca’s exposition in Letter 114 is the best known (talis hominibus fuit oratio qualis vita); cf. Aristotle, Poetics 1455a30-34; Cicero, Orator 2.189; Quintilian 6.2.26. See Russell (1981) 162-4. 85. Most scholars tend towards the first of these explanations: e.g. Olson (2002) ad loc. (cf. Austin and Olson (2004) 105-6, on Thesm. 148-72); Muecke (1982). Worman (2002) argues that throughout Greek antiquity (from archaic times onwards) the notion of ‘style’ incorporated both physical and linguistic mannerisms. 86. The joke at Frogs 1060-66 is also based on the same view of dramatic costumes as in Acharnians, and at Wasps 1051-9 there is an implied connection between one’s clothing and one’s intellect. Muecke (1982) 54-5 discusses this idea in the context of mimêsis (which in the fifth-century does not seem to have its Platonic and Aristotelian associations). 87. Cf. Wright (2010) 167-8 (on Eur. Suppl. 180-3, which contains a similar concept). 88. E.g. Dion. Hal. Dem. 43, Comp. 17; Quint. Inst. 5.12.17-20, 5.17.18-20, 8.3.6-8. See Brody (1993), esp. 12-17, and Muecke (1982) 54.


Notes to pages 124-129 89. O’Sullivan (1992) 145-8 equates manliness with the ‘grand’ style and effeminacy with the ‘thin’ style. Leidl (2003) traces a connection between gender and oratory back to the fifth century (e.g. Eur. Bacch. 457-9, Sophocles fr. 963). Worman (2002) 151-4 discusses ‘the versatile and effeminate sophistic style’ with reference to Gorgias, Alcibiades and others (quoting Plato, Gorg. 465b3-4); cf. Ar. Assemblywomen 112-13 for the view that women make the best speakers; Cratinus, Seasons fr. 276 is concerned with a tragic chorus whose ‘tonsorial teasing and plucking’, like that of Agathon, reflects their musical or poetic style. Cf. OKell (2003), who makes a case for a connection between rhetoric, effeminacy and impotency in fifth-century tragedy and satyr play. 90. Muecke (1982) 55. 91. Ar. Gerytades fr. 178, Women at the Thesmophoria II (fr. 341). Agathon is elsewhere described as notably handsome (Plato, Protagoras 315d-e, Symposium 177d, 193b-c; cf. TrGF 39 test. 14), but that is not the same thing at all. 92. So Bakola (2010) 27. 93. See Fairweather (1974), Lefkowitz (1981). 94. Amis (1991). 95. Baudelaire’s poem ‘Enivrez-vous’ (‘Il faut être toujours ivre ...’) is an extraordinary expression of this sort of idea: see Baudelaire (1869). Amis (1991) 161-5 is an excellent critical discussion of many of the ideas we have been examining in this section and the last. 96. Ar. Knights 400a; cf. Plut. Quest. conv. 2.1.2 (Mor. 634d) = Cratinus, Wine-Flask test. ii-iii (PCG iv p. 219). 97. So Olson (2007) 80. Fr. 193 apparently features Comedy complaining about ‘another woman’. 98. Notable recent discussions include Bakola (2010) 59-63, Olson (2007) 80-7, Biles (2002), Ruffell (2002), Hall (2000) 410-12, Rosen (2000) and Sidwell (1995). 99. So Ruffell (2002), Olson (2007) and others. 100. See Bowie (1997) on the typically sympotic and vinous preoccupations of the comic genre; cf. Wilkins (2000) ch. 9. 101. Cf. Nünlist (1998) 199: ‘Das Lied ein Trunk ist, den der Dichter seinem Adressaten anbietet’. Nünlist discusses ‘Symposion-Bilder’ in detail (pp. 199-205). 102. Pind. Isth. 6.1-3, 7-9; Nem. 50-2; cf. Ol. 6.91; Nem. 3.76-9, Isth. 5.24-5. Cf. Ar. Ach. 484, which refers to Euripides being ‘gulped down’ like a drink. 103. See esp. Horace, Epistle 1.19.1-3; cf. Nicaenetus (Anth. Pal. 13.29) and several Hellenistic epigrams (2711-16 Gow-Page); also cf. Libanius Epistle 1477.5 where Cratinus is depicted as a stereotypical drunkard. Cratinus fr. 319 (from an unknown play) also concerns ‘water-drinkers’; cf. Phrynichus fr. 74, which includes ‘water-drinker’ among a long list of insults directed at the musician Lamprus. 104. Cf. (perhaps) the obscure Aristophanes fr. 958, where some sort of connection is made between wine and writing. 105. Rosen (2000), Biles (2002), Bakola (2010). 106. See especially Davidson (1997); Wilkins (1997) and (2000a). 107. Wilkins (2000a) 416. 108. E.g. Aristophanes, Aeolosicon fr. 1, Anagyrus fr. 53, Proagon frr. 477-8; Platon, Menelaus fr. 76. 109. On comedy’s use of food metaphors to describe other (non-literary) activities, see Taillardat (1965) 348-50, Marr (1996). 110. Gowers (1993), esp. 40-9. Particularly interesting passages from the corpus of ancient literary-critical writings include the following: Pl. Gorg. 465d, Rep. 9.571d; Ar. Rhet. 3.3.3, 1406a; Plaut. Poen. 6-10; Cic. Or. 26, de Or. 1.34; Hor. Epi. 2.2.58-64; Quint. 6.3.18-19, 10.1, 12.10, 12.2.4; Sen. Epi. 46, 84 (I have plundered Gowers’ index locorum shamelessly).


Notes to pages 129-135 111. Cf. Gowers (1993) 3-40, esp. 40: ‘Just as food becomes mess when it is dropped on the floor or thrown away, it is also incongruously material or disgusting when it is smeared physically on to the pages of a book, or finds its way verbally into writing’. Cf. ancient philosophers’ attempts to downgrade taste and smell in their hierarchy of the senses: (e.g.) Aristotle (NE 3.10) separates intellectual activity from purely sensory or aesthetic pleasure. This topic is discussed at some length by Korsmeyer (1999) 1-8 and Gigante (2005) 1-21. 112. See §3.6 above. 113. See Athenaeus 9.367c-f on the metaphorical and literal meanings of . 114. A connection noted by Gowers (1993) 80-4. Cf. Eupolis, Autolycus fr. 60, where two poets are arguing: one mocks the other for his ‘novel ideas’, and he responds with a counter-accusation of plagiarism: ‘How can you say that, you who have licked the lips of many dishes?’ In Middle and New Comedy, especially, the stock character of the chef often boasts of the novelty of his dishes: e.g. Euphron fr. 1, Straton fr. 1.3-4, Philemon fr. 82, Alexis fr. 115, Hegesippus fr. 1 (cf. Athenaeus 9.382c). See Wilkins (2000a) 387-403 for contextualized discussion of the ‘boastful chef’ in comedy. 115. Cf. Wilkins (2000a) 257-311 on the difference between ordinary dining and luxury dining in antiquity: he makes the valuable point (p. 276) that ‘luxury’ may lie not just in the foodstuffs themselves but also in a certain style of eating or attitude to food. 116. Bourdieu (1984), esp. 177-99. Cf. Eagleton (1990) on ‘the ideology of the aesthetic’: he argues that taste ‘refashions the human subject from the inside, informing its subtlest affections and bodily responses: there is a right and a wrong to taste’ (43). 117. Bourdieu (1984) 6. 118. Gigante (2005) 16-17; cf. Korsmeyer (1999). Williams (1976) 264 includes ‘taste’ in his dictionary of Keywords but manages to trace its metaphorical use back only as far as AD 1425. See also the Oxford English Dictionary s.v. ‘taste’ (8.a, 8.b). 119. This problem has troubled modern aesthetic theorists since Hume (1757) and Kant (1790): see Korsmeyer (1999) for recent discussion. 120. This Latin tag seems to be apocryphal: it is apparently not a quotation from a Roman literary scholar, philosopher vel sim. (though I have seen it attributed, wrongly, to Cicero). 121. This fact underlines the importance of the ‘constructivist’ view of metaphor mentioned above, since the function of all these food metaphors is (inter alia) to shape the way that the audience thinks, rather than simply reflect aspects of their world: cf. Gigante (2005) 2, Korsmeyer (1999) 6-7. 122. Ar. Peace 962-7 (a slave throws barley to the audience); Wasps 56-9, with (poets hand out snacks to draw the audience’s attention away from the poor quality of their plays); Women Claiming Tent-Sites fr. 487 (mentions spectators drinking as they watch the show); Telecleides fr. 40 (probably refers to the handing-out of snacks, though interpretation is difficult); cf. Arist. NE 1175b. Athenaeus 11.464 reports that the audience was constantly supplied with wine, fruit and nuts during comic performances. 123. Athenaeus 347e. See above (§§3.5, 3.6) on the tendency of ancient biographers to use comedy as ‘factual’ evidence for the lives and opinions of poets. 124. This fragment is not definitely attributed to Aristophanes, but it is assigned to Gerytades by Kassel-Austin, followed by Henderson (2007). 125. E.g. Ar. Frogs 89-91, 917, 954, 1069; cf. Clouds 930-1, 1052-4. Cf. Dover (1993) 22; Beta (1999) 49-66. 126. Ar. Wasps 461-2 (briny and bitter flavours combined); Birds 281 (where Philocles is called , ‘the son of Briny’); fr. 591.


Notes to pages 135-142 127. Cf. TrGF IV (Radt) Test. 108-114. 128. On the date of Gerytades, see Geissler (1928) and Henderson (2007) 185. For more discussion of this play and its relationship to Frogs and Eupolis’ Demes, see Chapter 3 above. 129. Almost nothing remains of either poet’s work. Meletus: see TrGF 1.1868; called ‘Meletus the rotten tragedian’ by the scholiast on Plato, Apology 18b; satirized by Aristophanes elsewhere (Farmers fr. 117, where he is said to be ‘screwing Callias’). Sannyrion: see PCG vii, pp. 585-9; mocked by Strattis for his thinness (Cinesias fr. 21) and for owning a dildo (Men Cooling Off, fr. 57). 130. So Kaimio and Nykopp (1997, 33), who include all three of these poets in their discussion of the ‘Bad Poets Society’. 131. O’Sullivan (1992) 14-15; cf. Hunter (2009) 29; see above. Leptos occurs several times elsewhere in Frogs: 828, 876, 956, 1108, 1111. 132. E.g. Ar. Ach. 445, Assemblywomen 571, Lys. 28-9 (as well as the passages quoted in §4.2 above). Aelian, VH 10.6 records that numerous poets were mocked in Old Comedy because of their thinness (leptotês). Cf. Denniston (1927) 119-20 on the pejorative or ‘sneering’ tone of leptos in comedy. The term is often used, disparagingly, of the sophists or their followers: e.g. Ar. Clouds 153, 161, 320, 359. 133. The ‘slender’, ‘thin’ or ‘plain’ style appears in various guises (as ischnos, tenuis, subtilis as well as leptos): cf. (for example) Demetrius On Style 36, 190 etc.; Cic. de Orat. 3.52, 199, Or. 23.76; Quint. 12.10.58. 134. Bibliography on Callimachean poetics is enormous. On the particular question of ‘slenderness’ and its connection to comic usage see (in particular) Reitzenstein (1931) 21-69; Pfeiffer (1968) 137-8; Wimmel (1960) 115; Hopkinson (1988) 88-91; Cameron (1995) 488-93; Harder (2002) 189-223. The poet Philitas of Cos also seems to have espoused leptotês: see Lightfoot (2009) 20-3, 26-9 for various relevant testimonia. 135. Hopkinson (1988) 90-1.

5. The comedian as reader 1. E.g. (from the scholarship relating to comedy): Bakola (2010); Goldhill (1999); Harriott (1962); Mastromarco (2006); Revermann (2006a) and (2006b); Römer (1905); Sedgwick (1948); Woodbury (1986). Other scholars, such as Lowe (1993), Nieddu (2004), Silk (2000a), Slater (1996), Pfeiffer (1968) and WilamowitzMoellendorff (1921) are more receptive to the idea of readers of comic texts. 2. See Winsbury (2009) for a survey of recent approaches to the Hellenistic and Roman book; cf. Casson (2001). Johnson and Parker (2009), and Too (2010) on ancient books and libraries. 3. E.g. Fearn (2007), Hornblower and Morgan (2007), Kowalzig (2007), and the contributors to Gerber (1997). 4. Cf. Konstan (2000), esp. 154: ‘Whether there is any special connection between performance and democracy, and whether the notion of performance culture has heuristic value in respect of classical Athens, remain moot, in my view.’ 5. So Ford (2003) 16, in the course of a very acute discussion of the ‘interaction’ of oral and literate culture in classical Greece; cf. Kennedy (1989) 78-91. 6. See §2.7 above and the evidence cited there. 7. Notable attempts to deal with the question of fifth-century Athenian literacy (and the shortage of evidence) include Harvey (1966), Thomas (1989), Harris (1991), Robb (1994), O’Sullivan (1996), Morgan (1999), Ford (2003), Yunis (2003). 8. The sophists in particular were associated with books (see e.g. Aristophanes, Fry-Cooks fr. 506 for an example of a joke based on this association). 9. See Radermacher (1951); Pfeiffer (1968) 32-52; Richardson (1975).


Notes to pages 142-145 10. Damastes: FGH 5; Hecataeus: FGH 1. Richardson (1975, 71) calls Stesimbrotus’ work ‘gossipy’. On early Greek biography (including literary biography) cf. Momigliano (1971); Russell (1981) 159-68. Literary anecdotes and biography feature in old comedy: see (e.g.) Aristophanes, Wasps 1401-32 (Philocleon on Aesop, Lasus and Simonides); cf. all the jokes about Euripides’ mum’s profession (Aristophanes, Acharnians 478-9, Knights 19, Thesm. 387, 456, Frogs 840 etc.); Lefkowitz (1981) points out that comedy was often used as a source by ancient biographers of the poets. 11. Hippias (DK86 A11, B6). Russell (1981, 52) remarks that exactly the same sequence of poets is cited in Aristophanes (Frogs 103ff); cf. Plato, Apology 41a, Ion 536b. Cf. Nieddu (2004) 352-8 on the evidence for compilation/excerption as a reading practice (incl. Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.6.14, 1.2.56; Plato Laws 811a, Phaedrus 278d-e, Apol. 26d; the Hippocratic corpus passim). A neglected extra reference from comedy is Aristophanes’ Trygaeus, who has apparently been searching through Aesop’s fables in order to find a specific piece of information (Peace 129-30). 12. See Most’s (1994) interesting reading of this passage, including a critique of other scholars’ positions. Cf. Plato’s reading of Pindar (fr. 169) in Gorgias 484b. 13. Protagoras (DK80 A29, 30); Antisthenes (Radermacher [1951] B. xix.11-12; cf. Diogenes Laertius 6.17-18); Hecataeus (FGH 1 F19); Antimachus (FGH 107 T5); Metrodorus (DK61 A5). See Richardson (1975) 66-71; Pfeiffer (1968) 32-7. 14. For the fragments of Antisthenes, see Caizzi (1966). Cf. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Demosthenes 8 (on Antisthenes’ ‘Protean’ style). On ‘correctness in words’ cf. Democritus (DK68 B20-26); Protagoras (DK80 A1, 25, 278, C3); Prodicus (DK84 A19); Plato, Cratylus 384b, Protagoras 337a-c, 340a-341a, etc.; see Kerferd (1981) 68-75. 15. Cf. Mullan’s (2006, 284-302) description of ‘literariness’ in the modern novel, which in turn is strongly reminiscent of Bakhtin (1981). Cf. Barthes (1977, 39) for the idea of the text as ‘a tissue of past citations’. 16. See Garner (1990) on ‘the art of allusion’ in archaic poetry and tragedy; cf. the various contributors to Budelmann (2009). 17. See §3.6 and the ‘Appendix’ to Chapter 3 above. 18. Cf. Bremer’s (1993, 150) useful table of intertextual echoes and quotations in Aristophanes’ Peace. 19. Olson (2007) 268-71. On these other para-epic comedies, see Bowie (2000); Silk (2000b) 306-7; Storey (2003) 330-3. 20. E.g. Aristophanes, Knights 406 (Simonides), 1264-7 (Pindar); Wasps 308, 1401-5 (Pindar), 1409-11 (Lasus and Simonides); Children of Danaus fr. 271 (Clitagora); Banqueters fr. 235 (Alcaeus and Anacreon); Peace 603-4 (Archilochus), 775-801 (Stesichorus), etc. 21. Platon, Poets fr. 70 (Aesop); cf. Aristophanes, Peace 129-30 (which West [1984] 121-2 sees as evidence that texts of Aesop were circulating in the late fifth century). See also Aristophanes, Acharnians 634-5 (Gorgias); ibid. 497-556 (Herodotus). This last reference is sometimes disputed – see MacDowell (1983), Fornara (1971) – but generally accepted: so Olson (2002) liii-liv. 22. Goldhill (1993). 23. Most (1999) xii, writing about the way in which commentaries ‘take on’ authoritative texts, provides a suggestive parallel, as does Sluiter (2000) on ‘selfpositioning’ and the category of ‘secondary’ literature. 24. See Bowie (1993) 217-24; cf. Foley (1988) and (2008), Silk (2000a), and Wright (forthcoming). 25. Platter (2007); cf. von Möllendorff (1995) for the application to comedy of Bakhtin’s notion of the ‘carnivalesque’. 26. Rose (1993) 52.


Notes to pages 145-150 27. Notably Genette (1982) 2-28; Silk (1993) and (2000a); Nieddu (2004); Mastromarco (2006); Robson (2006); Foley (2008). On parody in a more general sense, see Rose (1993), who cites a large number of modern theorists (not always illuminatingly). 28. Exceptions include Bakola (2010) and Bowie (2000). Silk (2000b) downplays the presence of parody in other comedians’ work in order to make Aristophanes appear more distinctive in his interest in tragedy; cf. Silk (2000a). Even Storey (2003, 328-30), surprisingly, concludes that ‘there is little that is parodic’ in the fragments of Eupolis; yet the fact that there is any evidence of parody in the meagre fragments should surely lead to the opposite conclusion. 29. E.g. Jameson (1992) 166-7; cf. Silk (1993), whose distinction between ‘parody’ and ‘paratragedy’ is based partly on specificity (following Schlesinger (1937)) and partly on perceived negativity or hostility towards the source text; cf. also Robson (2006), esp. 108 (parody seen as an inherently negative style of imitation). 30. So Rose (1993) 45-51; cf. Bremer (1993) 149. This important fact has long been obvious to non-academic readers: cf. Dowley (1984) ix-x, in the introduction to an entertaining anthology of modern parodies. 31. Bakhtin (1981), esp. 134-50 (quotations from pp. 134, 147). 32. Lowe (1993); cf. Nieddu (2004). 33. Ar. Frogs 1108-14; see my earlier discussion (§2.6). 34. Notably Sedgwick (1948); Harriott (1962); Revermann (2006); Mastromarco (2006); cf. Rau (1967), criticized in detail by Nieddu (2004) 345-51. Schlesinger (1937, 305) concedes that some of Aristophanes’ allusions are particularly arcane, but concludes that Aristophanes was writing for his own private amusement. 35. See Pickard-Cambridge (1968) 99-101; cf. Pöhlmann (1988) 23-35 on reperformance (or the absence of it). 36. See Pickard-Cambridge (1968) 86: evidence includes Aristophanes, Acharnians 9-12, Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. 6.11, [anon.] Vit. Aesch. 12. 37. E.g. Critias, Peirithous; Achaeus, Aithon; Aeschylus, Myrmidons, etc. (See the Appendix to Chapter 3 above.) 38. Alcaeus fr. 19 ≈ Euripides, Orestes 866-71; see Kassel-Austin ad loc. (PCG ii, p. 9). 39. Aristophanes, Knights 140-52 incorporates Euripides, Telephus fr. 700, Bellerophon fr. 310, Alcestis 177-82; Rau (1967) 188 also detects similarities to Aeschylean phraseology. 40. See the very helpful tables provided by Rau (1967) 185-212: the reader will see that I have plundered his references liberally. 41. Peace 114-17, 119-21, 124-6, 129-30; see Rau (1967) 89-97. 42. Thesm. 715-6 ≈ Eur. Hippolytus 675-6; see Rau (1967) 48-50 for other possible parallels. 43. Birds 1232-56 ≈ Eur. Pleisthenes fr. 628; tr. adesp. fr. 48; Soph. Chryses fr. 727; Eur. Licymnius; Alcestis 675; Aeschylus, Niobe fr. 276. See Rau (1967) 197-8. 44. Wasps 312 = Eur. Theseus fr. 385 ( , , ;): the context is provided by the scholiast ad loc. 45. (unidentified); ≈ Eur. Bellerophon fr. 308. 46. A similar parody of the same motif is seen at Acharnians 450, 480, 483; for the tragic version cf. Euripides, Medea 431, 1056, 1242, Iphigenia among the Taurians 344, Orestes 466, Ion 859; Neophron fr. 2, etc. Rau (1967) 37-8 provides further discussion. 47. Schlesinger (1936) and (1937) deals systematically with different ways in which parodies are identified, giving many useful examples (though he only deals with the complete plays of Aristophanes). 48. See Cowan (2008) for an interesting discussion of indirect allusion in the Women at the Thesmophoria scene.


Notes to pages 150-155 49. Cf. Rosen (2006) on the process of ‘classicization’. 50. Cf. Theognis 815. Hesychius ( 978, 985), who quotes Strattis fr. 72, glosses it as a proverb (paroimia) without mentioning Aeschylus or Theognis. 51. So Storey (2003) 329, comparing Eupolis, Cities fr. 231 (similar to Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 39 but not necessarily a quotation). Eupolis elsewhere quotes Sophocles (Antigone 712-15) at more length: Prospaltians fr. 260.23-6. 52. Aristophanes, Women at the Thesmophoria 275-6; Frogs 101-2, 1471. Cf. adesp. com. fr. 832; Plato, Theaetetus 154d, Symposium 199a; Aristotle, Rhetoric 1416a18-21; Cicero, De Off. 3.29.108, etc. (Austin and Olson (2004) 143 supply more references and discussion.) Avery (1968) is a very interesting discussion of the ‘afterlife’ of Hippolytus 612. 53. Other writers also quoted the line in this sense: e.g. Plutarch, How A Young Man Should Study Poetry 33c (who reports the attempts of Antisthenes to ‘correct’ the line according to conventional morality); also Machon 410 and various compilers of anthologies: see Kannicht, TrGF V ad loc. 54. See (e.g.) Kennedy (1989), esp. 78-91. 55. For example: Euripides’ own views are detected in his characters’ words by Alc. 962, Hipp. 953; Hipp. 1105-6; Andr. 622; cf. Plut. Mor. 539b. The writers of the ancient biographical tradition (see Kovacs [1994] passim) routinely and indiscriminately treat lines from the plays as if they literally represented the poets’ opinions. Pollux 4.111 (1.233.29 Bethe) even informs us, improbably, that both Sophocles (in Hipponous) and Euripides (in Danae) employed a parabasis, as in comedy, to communicate their views directly to the audience! 56. ‘Second Woman’ in Women at the Thesmophoria 443-56; Mica in Women at the Thesmophoria 383-432; Aeschylus in Frogs 1050-88. 57. Euripides, Dictys fr. 333; Archelaus frr. 253, 237. 58. On Stobaeus and other anthologists see Wachsmuth (1882); cf. Sider (2001), Dickey (2007) 105-6. Greek middle and new comedians also treated tragedy as a repository of maxims: see Gutzwiller (2000). 59. Plato, Symp. 196d8-9; Menander fr. 7 Sandbach (also incorporating parody of Eur. Telephus fr. 715.2); Plut. Amat. 17 (= Mor. 762b), de Pyth. orac. 23 (= Mor. 405e); Ael. Fest. Apthonius. Gr. Lat. 6.160.3 Keil; Aristid. Or. 26.3, 41.11. 60. For (rare) attempts by other ancient critics to avoid over-simplistic reading of gnomic statements in tragedy, cf. Plutarch, How the Young Man Should Study Poetry 19e; Seneca, Letter 115.15. 61. Cf. §1.6 above on ‘cleverness’. Another Euripidean gnômê concerning ‘cleverness’ (Medea 298) is also included at Thesm. 1130-1. 62. As practised by (e.g.) Aristotle, Porphyry, Heraclides of Pontus and others: see Pfeiffer (1968) 69-74. Hunter (2009) 21-4 also detects ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’ as among the underlying approaches to poetry in Aristophanes’ Frogs. 63. On this ‘Aristarchean’ principle (which may owe its origins to Porphyry or someone else) see Pfeiffer (1968) 225-8; Wilson (1971). 64. This couplet is sometimes taken for an Aristophanic invention or pastiche (e.g. Sommerstein (1994) ad loc.), but is seen by Austin and Olson (2004), rightly I think, as a verbatim quotation from Agathon (they label it ‘Agathon fr. 34’). The fact that the Relative goes on to poke fun at the wording of the quotation (Thesm. 201) seems to make more sense if Agathon himself wrote it. 65. Thesm. 198-9: , . I have found it impossible to reproduce these verbal effects or the rhyme in English translation. Cf. Agathon frr. 6, 11, 12, 14 for similar ‘jingles’ and antitheses; see Lévêque (1955) 129-34. Aristophanes parodied Agathon’s love of antithesis elsewhere (the second Women at the Thesmophoria, fr. 341). 66. Cf. Wilson’s (1996) interesting essay on the ‘uses’ made of tragedy by various fourth-century writers.


Notes to pages 156-163 67. For a detailed list of the correspondences between Helen and Women at the Thesmophoria, see Rau (1967) 53-65; cf. also Sommerstein (1994) 212, Nieddu (2004). 68. Cf. Aristophanes, Knights 1248-52; Peace 76-179; Gerytades fr. 160; Daedalus fr. 192. Cf. also, from a few decades later, Antiphanes’ Poetry (fr. 189) for criticism of tragedians’ excessive use of the deus ex machina to bring tangled plots to a conclusion. 69. Aristotle, Poetics, esp. 1447a9-12, 1450a15-38, 1450b21-34, 1451b13, etc. 70. The same word is used to describe Euripides at Frogs 1327, but the meaning there may be more complex: Sommerstein (1996) 276-7 detects sexual innuendo. 71. Cratinus fr. 323 (‘Philocles has murdered the logos’) may also refer to bad handling of plot: this was the view of Meineke (see Kassel and Austin, PCG iv, p. 279); cf. Aristophanes, Wasps 54, Peace 50, 148 for logos in the sense of ‘plot’. 72. See Wright (2005) 82-133. 73. See Wright (2005) 163-200. 74. See (e.g.) Stinton (1976), Austin (1994) 138-99, Wright (2005) 133-57. 75. On all these important topics (which I merely touch upon here), see further Wright (2005). Cf. Segal (1961), Conacher (1998), Burnett (1971), Allan (2007) for more detailed discussion of various themes and preoccupations in Helen. 76. E.g. Bowie (1993) 217-24. Bowie interprets this scene as Aristophanes’ response to Euripides’ having ‘transgressed onto comic space’; but this argument is based on a wish to see ‘comic’ features in Helen (cf. Seidensticker (1982) 172-7) when in fact none exists. The ‘comic’ features identified by Bowie (the scene at the door with the Portress, the recognition scene and mistaken identity theme, and the allegedly parodic treatment of Homer and Stesichorus) are sometimes found in comedy but are not exclusively or distinctively comic. 77. Thesm. 912 replaces Euripides’ (‘[Come to your wife’s] arms’, Helen 566) with (a slang term for the female genitalia). See Henderson (1975) 143. 78. The word (‘fawns on’) is an odd metaphor, remarked upon by Taillardat (1964) 404; Rau (1967) 59 compares it to Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus 597 and Euripides Andromache 630. But this still does not explain the significance of the line within the parodic context. 79. See Wright (2005) 268-78, 307-16. This strand in Helen also reflects the sophistic interest in the ‘correctness’ of words, which was shared by several comedians (mentioned elsewhere in this chapter). 80. Winnington-Ingram (1969, 131): ‘Is this a tribute to realism? Or is it a hit at the conventional treatment of locality in the Choephori [106, 336-7], where the scene shifts unobtrusively from tomb to palace-front?’ Cf. Sommerstein (1994) 214, Allan (2007) 237. 81. Acharnians 412-35; Frogs 842, 1063-6. Cf. Macleod (1974) and (1980). 82. Satyrus, Life of Euripides fr. 39. VII. 83. See Kaimio and Nykopp (1997) on bad poets, who (it seems) constitute a distinct category of writer: their work is represented mainly by derogatory epithets and descriptions, not quotations. 84. Cf. Chapter 1. Ford (2002, esp. 250-71) believes that the specifically ‘poetic’ or ‘literary’ view of genre is to be traced to Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates and other fourth-century writers. Cf. Russell (1981) for the conventional view that the ‘taxonomy’ of literature began with Plato (though Russell notes that the first theoretical division of poetry into ‘types’, at Republic 392d, is not based on performance context or form, but on mimêsis). 85. See Bowie (2000), Bakola (2010) 122-41, 168-77. 86. On so-called ‘mythological burlesque’ see Mössner (1907) and Nesselrath (1995).


Notes to pages 163-170 87. Cf. Ford (2002) 13-22 on the notion of ‘appropriateness’ ( ) in archaic poetics (seen there as a criterion based on social considerations); cf. Lanata (1963) 51-2, 106, 230-1. 88. See esp. Gerytades fr. 156. Cf. Wright (forthcoming) on the ‘contest’ between tragedy and comedy in Wasps. 89. Platter (2007) 191; cf. Bakhtin (1981). 90. This is broadly the view taken by Foley (1988), Bowie (1993) 217-24, Platter (2007) and others. 91. Cf. Frogs 1181, where the phrase is actually used, a clear sign of sophistic leanings: see Dover (1993) 29-30. 92. Pfeiffer (1968) 12, 41; cf. Galen, Glosses on Hippocrates 19. 93. See esp. Goats fr. 4 (someone is criticized for ‘not having learnt even a tiny bit of mousikê’); fr. 18 (Prodamus teaches someone how to dance in a more civilised manner). See Storey (2003) 330-3 for discussion. 94. So described (according to Athenaeus (10.418c), who quotes the fragment) because the Thessalians cut their meat in enormous slices; cf. Frogs 799 for a similar metaphor; these passages are obviously connected to the literature-asfood theme discussed in §4.7. Also cf. Phrynichus, Cronus fr. 10 for the image of pretentious speech as being ‘cut up’ ( ) into slices. 95. Cf. Pherecrates, Small Fry fr. 100, where Aeschylus’ technê is described in terms of masonry (rather as in Frogs): see Chapter 4 above. 96. It has been thought that one of the poets was Sophocles: cf. Phrynichus fr. 68, which describes Sophocles’ ‘sweet’ style. See Kassel-Austin (PCG vii p. 409); cf. Meineke i.157; Rogers (1902) xxxvii-xxxviii; Dover (1993) 27; Harvey (2000). 97. Cf. Frogs 358, Peace 750, Clouds 544 for similar wording. Wasps 547 contains a comparable but not identical use of : see also Hippocrates, Airs, Waters, Places 3 (of scientific investigation); cf. Longinus, On the Sublime 10.6; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, On Thucydides 55. 98. So Hunter (2009) 21-5, comparing Aristotle Poet. 1460b32-3 and the fragments of Homeric Problems (Aristotle frr. 142-79 Rose); Longinus, On the Sublime 36. Cf. Pfeiffer (1968) 69-71. 99. Cf. Frogs 1121 (for use of , also of Aeschylus). 100. On Sophoclean ‘sweetness’ in the ancient critical tradition, see TrGF iv (Radt), Test. 108-114. For the (literal and metaphorical) ‘tasting’ of poetry in comedy, cf. Aristophanes’ Gerytades (discussed in §4.7). 101. Cf. Aristotle, Poetics 1458a22, Rhetoric 1404124-6; Diodorus Siculus 12.53.3; Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 1.9.492-3; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, On Lysias 3; cf. DK 82 A1-4, 29. See Lucas (1968) 208. 102. See n. 65 above. 103. Women at the Thesmophoria 49, 60. Austin and Olson (2004) 69 note that the epithet is not found elsewhere before the Roman period; they also judge it ironical rather than sincere. 104. For Philocles’ ‘bitterness’, see §4.7. 105. Richards (1929). 106. E.g. Sommerstein (1994) 4. 107. E.g. Aristophanes, Acharnians 428-9; Frogs 841, 1069, 1071, 1160, 1310; etc.; hinted at also by Cratinus fr. 342. This tendency was not exclusively confined to Euripides: Platon (Stage-Properties fr. 140) also calls Melanthius a chatterer. 108. As Olson (1998) 186 notes, when at Peace 532-4 Euripides is said to be the author of ‘forensic phraselets’ ( ), the termination may also indicate a parody of contemporary linguistic fashion; cf. Denniston (1927). 109. Eustathius ad Il. 813.44, 896.54; cf. other authorities quoted by Kassel and Austin ad loc. (PCG vii, p. 445). 110. This is broadly the position arrived at by Lowe (1993) 78.


Notes to pages 170-171 111. Dover (1993, 28) saw this very clearly: ‘the many virtues of Frogs do not include originality of concept’. 112. Silk (2000a) and (2000b). 113. That is not to say that comedy stopped being exciting after the period of old comedy. The comedians of the fourth century and later continued to exhibit a strong interest in poetics – a subject to which I shall return.


Bibliography and abbreviations Listed below are all works which I have cited in the main text and notes. Abbreviations follow the normal scholarly conventions (as in L’Année Philologique), but the reader may find it helpful to know that the following abbreviations are very frequently used: Kock = T. Kock (ed.), Comicorum Atticorum Fragmenta, I (Leipzig). LSJ = H.G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (rev. H.S. Jones and R. McKenzie, with revised Supplement) (Oxford, 1996). Meineke = A. Meineke (ed.), Fragmenta Comicorum Graecorum (Berlin, 1839-57). OCT = N.G. Wilson (ed.), Aristophanis Fabulae (Oxford Classical Texts: Oxford, 2007) PCG = R. Kassel and C. Austin (eds), Poetae Comici Graeci (Berlin and New York, 1983-). TrGF = S. Radt, R. Kannicht, B. Snell (eds), Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (Göttingen, 1971-2004). Adair, G. (1992) The Postmodernist Always Rings Twice (London). Allan, W. (2007) (ed.) Euripides: Helen (Cambridge). Allen, D. (2003) ‘Angry Bees, Wasps, and Jurors: The Symbolic Politics of orgê in Athens’, in S. Braund and G. Most (eds), Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (Cambridge): 76-98. Amis, K.W. (1991) Memoirs (London). Arrighetti, G. (1987) Poeti, eruditi e biografi (Pisa). Austin, C. and Olson, S.D. (2004) (eds) Aristophanes: Thesmophoriazusae (Oxford). Austin, N. (1994) Helen of Troy and her Shameless Phantom (Ithaca). Avery, H.C. (1968) ‘My Tongue Swore, But My Mind Is Unsworn’, TAPA 99: 1935. Bakhtin, M. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, tr. c. Emerson and M. Holquist (London). Bakola, E. (2008) ‘The Drunk, The Reformer and the Teacher: Agonistic Poetics and the Construction of Persona in the Comic Poets of the Fifth Century’, PCPS 54: 1-29. Bakola, E. (2010) Cratinus and the Art of Comedy (Oxford). Barker, A. (1984) Greek Musical Writings, I (Cambridge). Barker, A. (2004) ‘Transforming the Nightingale: Aspects of Athenian Musical Discourse in the Late Fifth Century’, in Murray and Wilson (2004): 185-204. Barker, E.T.E. (2009) Entering the Agon: Dissent and Authority in Homer, Historiography and Tragedy (Oxford). Barthes, R. (1977) ‘The Death of the Author’, in Image, Music, Text, tr. S. Heath (London). Baudelaire, C. (1869) Petits poèmes en prose (Paris). Bayard, P. (2007) Comment parler des livres que l’on n’a pas lus? (Paris). Bennett, A. (2002) The Author (London). Bergson, H. (1913) Laughter (London).


Bibliography and abbreviations Bernstein, F. (1998) Ludi Publici: Untersuchungen zur Enstehung und Entwicklung der öffentlichen Spiele im republikanischen Rom (Stuttgart). Beta, S. (1999) ‘Madness on the Comic Stage: Aristophanes’ Wasps and Euripides’ Heracles’, GRBS 40: 135-58. Beta, S. (2000) ‘La “parola inutile” nella commedia antica’, QUCC 63: 49-66. Biles, Z. (2002) ‘Intertextual Biography in the Rivalry of Cratinus and Aristophanes’, AJP 123: 169-204. Björkmann, S. (1995) (ed.) Woody Allen on Woody Allen (London). Blänsdorf, J. (1990) (ed.) Theater und Gesellschaft im Imperium Romanum (Tübingen). Bloom, H. (1982) Agon: Towards a Theory of Revisionism (New York and Oxford). Boedeker, D. and Raaflaub, K. (1998) (eds) Democracy, Empire and the Arts in Fifth-Century Athens (Oxford and New York). Borthwick, E.K. (1968) ‘The Dances of Philocleon and the Sons of Carcinus in Aristophanes’ Wasps’, CQ 18: 44-51. Borthwick, E.K. (1994) ‘New interpretations of Aristophanes’ Frogs 1249-1328’, Phoenix 48: 21-41. Bourdieu, P. (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice (tr. R. Nice) (Cambridge). Bourdieu, P. (1979) La Distinction (Paris). Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (tr. R. Nice) (Cambridge, MA). Bourdieu, P. (1993) The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature (tr. R. Johnson) (Cambridge). Bourdieu, P. (1996) The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field (tr. S. Emanuel) (Cambridge). Bouvier, D. (2004) ‘“Rendre l’homme meilleur!” ou Quand la comédie interroge la tragédie sur sa finalité: à propos des Grenouilles d’Aristophane’, in C. Calame (ed.), Poétique d’Aristophane et langue d’Euripide en dialogue (Lausanne): 9-26. Bowie, A.M. (1993) Aristophanes: Myth, Ritual and Comedy (Cambridge). Bowie, A.M. (1997) ‘Thinking With Drinking: Wine and the Symposium in Aristophanes’, JHS 117: 1-21. Bowie, A.M. (2000), ‘Myth and Ritual in the Rivals of Aristophanes’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 317-40. Bowie, E.L. (1988) ‘Who is Dicaeopolis?’ JHS 108: 183-5. Bowie, E.L. (1993) ‘Lies, Fiction and Slander in Early Greek Poetry’, in C.J. Gill and T.P. Wiseman (eds) Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World (Exeter): 1-37. Bowie, E.L. (1995) ‘Wine in Old Comedy’, in O. Murray and M. Tecusan (eds) In Vino Veritas (London): 113-25. Bowler, A. (1994) ‘Methodological Dilemmas in the Sociology of Art’, in D. Crane (ed.) The Sociology of Culture: Emerging Theoretical Perspectives (Oxford): 247-66. Boys-Stones, G. (2003) (ed.) Metaphor, Allegory and the Classical Tradition (Oxford). Brandt, P. (1888) Corpusculum poesis epicae graecae ludibundae (Berlin). Braun, T. ‘The Choice of Dead Politicians in Eupolis’s Demoi’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 191-231. Bremer, J. (1993) ‘Aristophanes on His Own Poetry’, Entretiens Hardt 38: 125-65. Brody, M. (1993) Manly Style: Gender, Rhetoric, and the Rise of Composition (Illinois). Budelmann, F. (2009) (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Greek Lyric (Cambridge). Burke, S. (1995) (ed.) Authorship: From Plato to the Postmodern (Edinburgh). Burkert, W. (1987) ‘The Making of Homer in the Sixth Century BC: Rhapsodes versus Stesichoros’, in Papers on the Amasis Painter and his World (Malibu): 43-62.


Bibliography and abbreviations Burnett, A.P. (1971) Catastrophe Survived: Euripides’ Plays of Mixed Reversal (Oxford). Caizzi, F.D. (1966) (ed.) Antisthenis Fragmenta (Varese). Cameron, A. (1995) Callimachus and his Critics (Princeton). Campbell, D. (1983) The Golden Lyre (London). Carey, C. (2000) ‘Old Comedy and the Sophists’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 419-38. Carrière, J.E. (1979) La carnaval et la politique (Paris). Casson, L. (2001) Libraries in the Ancient World (Yale). Claessens, N. and Dhoest, A. (2010), ‘Comedy taste: highbrow/lowbrow comedy and cultural capital’, Participations 7: 49-72. Clarke Kosak, J. (2004) Heroic Measures: Hippocratic Medicine in the Making of Euripidean Tragedy (Leiden). Clayman, D.L. (1977) ‘The Origins of Greek Literary Criticism and the Aitia Prologue’, WS 90: 27-34. Colebrook, C. (2004) Irony (London). Conacher, D. (1998) Euripides and the Sophists (London). Cowan, R.W. (2008) ‘Nothing to do with Phaedra: Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 497-501’, CQ 58: 317-22. Croally, N. (2005) ‘Tragedy’s Teaching’, in J. Gregory (ed.) Companion to Greek Tragedy (Oxford): 55-70. Crowther, P. (2003) ‘Literary Metaphor and Philosophical Insight’, in BoysStones (2003): 83-100. Chirico, M.L. (1990) ‘Per una poetica di Aristofane’, PP 45: 95-115. Csapo, E. (2000) ‘Later Euripidean music’, ICS 24-5: 399-426. Csapo, E. (2004) ‘The Politics of the New Music’, in Murray and Wilson (2004): 207-48. Csapo, E. and Miller, M. (2007) (eds) The Origins of the Theatre in Ancient Greece and Beyond (Cambridge). Csapo, E. and Slater, W. (1994) The Context of Ancient Drama (Ann Arbor). Dale, A.M. (1968) The Lyric Metres of Greek Drama, revised ed. (Cambridge). Davidson, J. (1997) Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens (London). de Bernardi Ferraro, D. (1966) Teatri classici in Asia minore I (Rome). De Man, P. (1979) ‘Semiology and Rhetoric’, in J. Harari (ed.), Textual Strategies (Ithaca): 121-40. de Ste. Croix, G. (1972) The Origins of the Peloponnesian War (London). Demand, N. (1970) ‘The Identity of the Frogs’, CP 65: 83-7. Denniston, J.D. (1927) ‘Technical Terms in Aristophanes’, CQ 21: 113-21. Dickey, E. (2007) Ancient Greek Scholarship (Oxford). Dobrov, G. (1995) ‘The Poet’s Voice in the Evolution of Dramatic Dialogism’, in G. Dobrov (ed.) Beyond Aristophanes: Tradition and Diversity in Greek Comedy (Atlanta): 47-97. Dobrov, G. (1997) (ed.) The City as Comedy (Chapel Hill). Dobrov, G. (2001) Figures of Play: Greek Drama and Metafictional Poetics (Oxford/ New York). Dover, K.J. (1968) (ed.) Aristophanes: Clouds (Oxford). Dover, K.J. (1972) Aristophanic Comedy (Oxford). Dover, K.J. (1974) Greek Popular Morality (Oxford). Dover, K.J. (1993) (ed.) Aristophanes: Frogs (Oxford). Dowley, T. (1984) Taking it Off: An Anthology of Parodies (London). Dunbar, N. (1994) (ed.) Aristophanes: Birds (Oxford). Dunn, F. (2007) Present Shock in Fifth-Century Athens (Michigan). Eagleton, T. (1983) Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford).


Bibliography and abbreviations Eagleton, T. (1990) The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford). Eco, U. (2005) On Literature (London). Edmonds, J.M. (1957) (ed.) The Fragments of Attic Comedy, I (Leiden). Egan, R.B. (2005) ‘Making water music: a double-entendre in Aristophanes Pax 1265-9’, CQ 55: 607-9. Empson, W. (1947) Seven Types of Ambiguity, revised ed. (London). English, J. (2005) The Economy of Prestige (Harvard). Fairweather, J. (1974) ‘Fiction in the Biographies of Ancient Writers’, Ancient Society 5: 234-55. Farioli, M. (2004) ‘Due parodie comiche della “psychostasia”: Ar. Ran. 1364-1413 e fr. 504 K.-A.’, Lexis 22: 251-67. Fearn, D. (2007) Bacchylides: Politics, Performance, Poetic Tradition (Oxford). Finkelberg, M. (2006) ‘Aristotle and Episodic Tragedy’, G&R 53: 60-72. Fisher, N. (1993) ‘Multiple Personalities and Dionysiac Festivals: Dicaeopolis in Aristophanes’ Acharnians’, G&R 40 (1993): 31-47. Foley, H.P. (1988) ‘Tragedy and Politics in Aristophanes’ Acharnians’, JHS 108: 33-47. Foley, H.P. (2008) ‘Generic Boundaries in Late Fifth-Century Athens’, in M. Revermann and P. Wilson (eds), Performance, Iconography, Reception: Studies in Honour of Oliver Taplin (Oxford): 15-36. Ford, A. (2002) The Origins of Criticism: Literary Culture and Poetic Theory in Classical Greece (Princeton). Ford, A. (2003) ‘From Letters to Literature: Reading the “Song Culture” of Classical Greece’, in H. Yunis (ed.), Written Texts and the Rise of Literate Culture in Ancient Greece (Cambridge): 15-37. Fornara, C.W. (1971) ‘Evidence for the Date of Herodotus’ Publication’, JHS 91: 25-34. Forrest, W.G. (1975) ‘An Athenian Generation Gap’, YCS 24: 37-52. Frye, N. (1957) The Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton). Garland, R. (2004) Surviving Greek Tragedy (London). Garner, R. (1990) From Homer to Tragedy (London). Geissler, P. (1928) Chronologie der altattischen Komödie (Berlin). Gelzer, T. (1971) Aristophanes der Komiker (Stuttgart). Genette, G. (1982) Palimpsestes: la littérature au second degré (Paris). Gerber, D. (1997) (ed.) A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets (Leiden). Ghiron-Bistagne, P. (1973) ‘Un calembour méconnu d’Aristophane: Acharniens 700, Oiseaux 787’, REG 86: 285-91. Gianotti, G.F. (1975) Per una poetica pindarica (Turin). Gigante, D. (2005) Taste: A Literary History (Yale). Gladigow, B. (1964) Sophia und Kosmos (Hildesheim). Gladigow, B. (1967) ‘Zum Makarismos des Weisen’, Hermes 95: 404-33. Goldhill, S. (1986) Reading Greek Tragedy (Cambridge). Goldhill, S. (1991) The Poet’s Voice (Cambridge). Goldhill, S. (1993) ‘The Sirens’ Song: Authorship, Authority and Citation’, in M. Birotti and N. Miller (eds), What is an Author? (Manchester): 137-54. Goldhill, S. (1999) ‘Introduction’, in Goldhill and Osborne (1999): 1-15. Goldhill, S. and Osborne, R. (1999) (eds) Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy (Cambridge). Gomme, A.W. (1938) ‘Aristophanes and Politics’, CR 52: 97-109. Gowers, E. (1993) The Loaded Table (Oxford). Graziosi, B. (2002) ‘Competition in Wisdom’, in F. Budelmann and P. Michelakis (eds) Homer, Tragedy, and Beyond: Essays in Honour of P.E. Easterling (London): 57-74. Greenwood, E. (2006) Thucydides and the Shaping of History (London).


Bibliography and abbreviations Griffith, M. (1990) ‘Contest and Contradiction in Early Greek Poetry’, in M. Griffith and D.J. Mastronarde (eds) Cabinet of the Muses: Essays in Classical and Comparative Literature in Honor of T. G. Rosenmeyer (Atlanta): 185-207. Griffith, M. (2008) ‘Greek Middlebrow Drama (Something to do with Aphrodite?)’, in M. Revermann and P. Wilson (eds), Performance, Iconography, Reception: Studies in Honour of Oliver Taplin (Oxford): 59-87. Gröbl, J.N. (1890) Die ältesten Hypotheseis zu Aristophanes, I (Dillingen). Grube, G.M. (1965) The Greek and Roman Critics (London). Guthrie, W. (1971) The Sophists (Cambridge). Gutzwiller, K. (1969) Psychros und Onkos (Basel). Gutzwiller, K. (2000) ‘The Tragic Mask of Comedy’, ClAnt 19: 102-37. Hall, E.M. (1999) ‘Actors’ Song in Greek Tragedy’, in Goldhill and Osborne (1999): 108-20. Hall, E.M. (2000) ‘Female Figures and Metapoetry in Old Comedy’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 407-18. Halliwell, S.J. (1980) ‘Aristophanes’ Apprenticeship’, CQ 30: 33-45. Halliwell, S.J. (1989) ‘Authorial Collaboration in the Athenian Comic Theatre’, GRBS 30: 515-28. Halliwell, S.J. (1987) (ed.) The Poetics of Aristotle (London). Halliwell, S.J. (1988) (ed.) Plato: Republic 10 (Warminster). Halliwell, S.J. (1993) (ed.) Plato: Republic 5 (Warminster). Halliwell, S.J. (2008) Greek Laughter (Cambridge). Handley, E. (1953) ‘—Sis Nouns in Aristophanes’, Eranos 51: 129-42. Handley, E. (1993) ‘Aristophanes and the Generation Gap’, in A.H. Sommerstein et al. (eds), Tragedy, Comedy, and the Polis (Bari): 417-44. Harder, M.A. (2002) ‘Intertextuality in Callimachus’ Aetia’, Entretiens Hardt 48: Callimaque (Geneva): 189-223. Harriott, R.M. (1969) Poetry and Criticism Before Plato (London). Harris, W. (1991) Ancient Literacy (Cambridge, MA). Harvey, F.D. (1966) ‘Literacy in the Athenian Democracy’, REG 79: 585-635. Harvey, F.D. (1971) ‘Sick Humour: Aristophanic Parody of a Euripidean Motif?’, Mnemosyne 24: 362-5. Harvey, F.D. (2000) ‘Phrynichus and his Muses’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 91-134. Harvey, F.D. and Wilkins, J.M. (2000) (eds) The Rivals of Aristophanes: Studies in Athenian Old Comedy (London). Heath, M. (1987) Political Comedy in Aristophanes (Göttingen). Heath, M. (1990) ‘Aristophanes and his Rivals’, G&R 37: 143-58. Heiden, B. (1991) ‘Tragedy and Comedy in the Frogs of Aristophanes’, Ramus 20: 95-111. Henderson, J. (1987) (ed.) Aristophanes: Lysistrata (Oxford). Henderson, J. (1990) ‘The Demos and The Comic Competition’, in J. Winkler and F. Zeitlin (eds), Nothing to Do With Dionysos? Athenian Drama in its Social Context (Princeton): 271-313. Henderson, J. (1991) The Maculate Muse, revised ed. (Princeton) (orig. ed. 1975). Henderson, J. (2007) (ed.) Aristophanes V: Fragments (Cambridge, MA). Herington, J. (1985) Poetry into Drama: Early Tragedy and the Greek Poetic Tradition (Berkeley). Hesk, J. (2000) ‘Intratext and Irony in Aristophanes’, in A. Sharrock and H. Morales (eds) Intratextuality (Oxford): 227-61. Hesk, J. (2007) ‘Combative Capping in Aristophanic Comedy’, PCPS 53: 124-60. Hinds, S. (1998) Allusion and Intertext: Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Poetry (Cambridge).


Bibliography and abbreviations Hopkinson, N. (1988) (ed.) A Hellenistic Anthology (Cambridge). Hordern, J. (2002) The Fragments of Timotheus of Miletus (Oxford). Hornblower, S. (1991) A Commentary on Thucydides, I (Oxford). Hornblower, S. (1996) A Commentary on Thucydides, II (Oxford). Hornblower, S. and Morgan, K. (2007) (eds) Pindar’s Poetry, Patrons, and Festivals (Oxford). Hubbard, T. (1991) The Mask of Comedy: Aristophanes and the Intertextual Parabasis (Cornell). Hughes, R. (1991) The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change (London). Hume, D. (1757) ‘Of the Standard of Taste’, in Four Dissertations (London). Hunter, R. (2009) Critical Moments in Classical Literature (Cambridge). Hutcheon, L. (1994) Irony’s Edge (London). Innes, D.C. (2003) ‘Metaphor, Simile and Allegory as Ornaments of Style’, in Boys-Stones (2003): 7-27. Jameson, F. (1992) Postmodernism (Durham, NC). Janko, R. (1984) Aristotle on Comedy (London). Janko, R. (2009) ‘A New Comic Fragment (Aristophanes?) on the Effect of Tragedy’, CQ 59: 270-1. Johnson, W. and Parker, H. (2009) (eds) Ancient Literacies (Oxford and New York). Kaimio, M. and Nykopp, N. (1997) ‘Bad Poets Society: Censure of the Style of Minor Tragedians in Old Comedy’, in J. Vaahtera and R. Vainio (eds), Utriusque linguae peritus: studia in honorem Toivio Viljamaa (Turku): 2337. Kannicht, R. (1969) (ed.) Euripides: Helena (Heidelberg). Kant, I. (1790) Kritik der Urteilskraft (Hamburg). Kawin, B. (1972) Telling it Again: Repetition in Literature and Film (Ithaca). Kennedy, G. (1989) (ed.) The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, I: Classical Criticism (Cambridge). Kerferd, G. (1981) The Sophistic Movement (Cambridge). Konstan, D. (2000) Review of Goldhill and Osborne (1999), in Phoenix 54: 150-4. Korsmeyer, C. (1999) Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy (Ithaca). Koster, W. (1975) Scholia in Aristophanem, IA: Prolegomena de Comoedia (Gröningen). Kovacs, D. (1990) (ed.) Euripides I (Cambridge, MA). Kovacs, D. (1994) Euripidea (Leiden). Kövecses, Z. (2002) Metaphor: A Practical Introduction (Oxford). Kowalzig, B. (2007) Singing for the Gods (Oxford). Kraus, W. (1985) Aristophanes’ politische Komödien (Vienna). Kristeva, J. (1986) The Kristeva Reader, ed. T. Moi (New York). Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By (Chicago). Lanata, G. (1963) Poetica Pre-Platonica (Florence). Lapalus, E. (1934) ‘Le Dionysos et l’Héraclès des Grenouilles’, REG 47: 1-20. Ledbetter, G. (2003) Poetics Before Plato (Princeton). Lefkowitz, M. (1981) the Lives of the Greek Poets (London). Lefkowitz, M. (1991) First-Person Fictions: Pindar’s Poetic ‘I’ (Oxford). Le Guen, B. (1995) ‘Théâtre et cités à l’époque hellénistique’, REG 108: 59-90. Leidl, C. (2003) ‘The Harlot’s Art: Metaphor and Literary Criticism’, in BoysStones (2003): 31-55. Lévêque, P. (1955) Agathon (Paris). Lightfoot, J. (2009) (ed.) Hellenistic Collection (Cambridge, MA). Lloyd, G. (1990) Demystifying Mentalities (Cambridge). Loraux, N. (1986) ‘Thucydide et la sédition dans les mots’, QS 12: 95-134. Lowe, N. (1993) ‘Aristophanes’ Books’, Annals of Scholarship 10: 63-83.


Bibliography and abbreviations Lowe, N. (2007) Comedy (Oxford). Lucas, D.W. (1968) (ed.) Aristotle: Poetics (Oxford). McCall, M. (1969) Ancient Rhetorical Theories of Simile and Comparison (Cambridge, MA). McDermott, E. (1991) ‘Double Meaning and Mythic Novelty in Euripides’ Plays’, TAPA 121: 123-32. McDonald, N. (2007) The Death of the Critic (London). MacDowell, D.M. (1971) (ed.) Aristophanes: Wasps (Oxford). MacDowell, D.M. (1983) ‘The Nature of Aristophanes’ Akharnians’, G&R 30: 14362. MacDowell, D.M. (1995) Aristophanes and Athens (Oxford). Macleod, C. (1974) ‘Euripides’ Rags’, ZPE 15: 221-2. Macleod, C. (1980) ‘Euripides’ Rags Again’, ZPE 29: 6. Macleod, C. (1983) ‘Thucydides and Tragedy’, in Collected Essays (Oxford): 14058. Maehler, H. (1963) Die Auffassung des Dichterberufs im frühen Griechentum bis zur Zeit Pindars (Göttingen). Marr, J.L. (1996) ‘History as Lunch’, CQ 46: 561-4. Mastromarco, G. (1978) ‘Una norma agonistica del teatro di Atene’, Rh.M. 121: 19-34. Mastromarco, G. (2006) ‘La paratragodia, il libro, la memoria’, in Medda et al. (2006): 137-91. Marshall, C. W. and van Willigenburg, S. (2004) ‘Judging Athenian Dramatic Competitions’, JHS 124: 90-107. Matelli, E. (1987) ‘Struttura e stile del peri hypsous’, Aevum 61: 131-247. Meade, M. (2000) The Unruly Life of Woody Allen (London). Medda, E., Mirto, M.S., and Pattoni, M.P. (2006) (eds) Komoidotragoidia: intersezioni del tragico e del comico nel teatro del V secolo a.C. (Pisa). Miller, H. (1945) ‘Comic Iteration in Aristophanes’, AJP 66: 398-408. Moles, J. (2001) ‘A False Dilemma: Thucydides’ History and Historicism’, in S.J. Harrison (ed.) Texts, Ideas, and the Classics (Oxford): 195-219. Momigliano, A. (1971) The Development of Greek Biography (Cambridge, MA). Morgan, T. (1999) Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds (Cambridge). Mössner, O. (1907) Die Mythologie in der dorischen und altattischen Komödie (Erlangen). Most, G.W. (1994) ‘Simonides’ Ode to Scopas in Context’, in I. de Jong and J.P. Sullivan (eds) Modern Critical Theory and Classical Literature (Leiden): 12752. Most, G.W. (1999) (ed.) Commentaries/Kommentare = Aporemata 4 (Göttingen). Muecke, D. (1969) The Compass of Irony (London). Muecke, F. (1982) ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman’, CQ 32: 41-55. Mullan, J. (2006) How Novels Work (Oxford). Müller, D. (1974) ‘Die Verspottung der metaphorischen Ausdrucksweise durch Aristophanes’, in U. Reinhardt and K. Sallmann (eds), Musa Iocosa (Hildesheim and New York): 29-41. Murray, G. (1933) Aristophanes: A Study (Oxford). Murray, P. (1996) Plato on Poetry (Cambridge). Murray, P. and Wilson, A. (2004) (eds) Music and the Muses (Oxford). Nagy, G. (1989) ‘Early Greek Views of Poets and Poetry’, in Kennedy (1989): 1-77. Napolitano, M. (1999) ‘Aristofane: il teatro e la polis’, in A. Camerotto and R. Oniga (eds) La parola nella città (Udine): 35-49. Neddu, G.F. (2004) ‘A Poet at Work: The Parody of Helen in the Thesmophoriazusae’, GRBS 44: 331-60.


Bibliography and abbreviations Nesselrath, H.G. (1995) ‘Myth, Parody and Comic Plots’, in G. Dobrov (ed.) Beyon Aristophanes (Atlanta): 1-27. Nesselrath, H.G. (2000) ‘Eupolis and the Periodization of Athenian Comedy’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 233-46. Newiger, H.-J. (1957) Metapher und Allegorie (Munich). Nieddu, G.F. (2004) ‘A Poet at Work: The Parody of Helen in the Thesmophoriazusae’, GRBS 44: 331-60. Noël, M.P. (1997) ‘Mots nouveaux et idées nouvelles dans les Nuées d’Aristophane’, Ktema 22: 173-84. Norwood, G. (1931) Greek Comedy (London). Nünlist, R. (1998) Poetologische Bildersprache in der frühgriechischen Dichtung (Stuttgart). O’Regan, D.E. (1992) Rhetoric, Comedy and the Violence of Language in Aristophanes’ Clouds (New York). O’Sullivan, N. (1992) Alcidamas, Aristophanes and the Beginnings of Greek Stylistic Theory (Hermes Einzelschrift 60, Stuttgart). O’Sullivan, N. (1996) ‘Written and Spoken in the First Sophistic’, in Worthington (1996): 115-27. O’Sullivan, N. (2006) ‘Aristophanes’ First Critic: Cratinus fr. 342 K-A’, in J. Davidson et al. (eds) Greek Drama III: Essays in Honour of Kevin Lee (BICS Supplement 87, London): 163-9. Öhman, S. (1953) Wortinhalt und Weltbild (Stockholm). OKell, E. (2003) ‘The “Effeminacy” of the Clever Speaker and the “Impotency” Jokes of Ichneutae’, in A.H. Sommerstein (ed.) Shards from Kolonos (Bari): 283-307. Olson, S.D. (1998) (ed.) Aristophanes: Peace (Oxford). Olson, S.D (2002) (ed.) Aristophanes: Acharnians (Oxford). Olson, S.D (2007) Broken Laughter: Select Fragments of Greek Comedy (Oxford). Ortony, S. (1993) (ed.) Metaphor and Thought (Cambridge). Osborne, R. (1993) ‘Competitive Festivals and the Polis’, in A.H. Sommerstein et al. (eds) Tragedy, Comedy, and The Polis (Bari): 21-38. Osborne, R. (2007) (ed.) Debating the Athenian Cultural Revolution (Cambridge). Ostwald, M. (1986) From Popular Sovereignty to the Sovereignty of Law (California). Paduano, G. (1996) ‘E la semiotica qualcosa di più di un gioco intellettuale?’, Linguistica e letteratura 20/21: 141-9. Page, D.L. (1934) Actors’ Interpolations in Greek Tragedy (Oxford). Parker, L.P.E. (1991) ‘Eupolis or Dicaeopolis?’ JHS 111: 203-8. Parker, L.P.E. (1997) The Songs of Aristophanes (Oxford). Pascal, C. (1911) Dioniso: Saggio sulla religione e la parodia religiosa in Aristofane (Catania). Pater, W. (1873) The Renaissance (London). Pelling, C.B. (2000) Literary Texts and the Greek Historian (London). Pfeiffer, R. (1968) History of Classical Scholarship: From the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age (Oxford). Phillips, D.J. (2003) ‘Athenian Political History: A Panathenaic Perspective’, in Phillips and Pritchard (2003). Phillips, D.J. and Pritchard, D. (2003) (eds) Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World (Swansea). Pickard-Cambridge, A.W. (1962) Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy, second ed. (Oxford). Pickard-Cambridge, A.W. (1968) The Dramatic Festivals of Athens, second ed., rev. J. Gould and D.M. Lewis (Oxford). Pieters, J. (1976) ‘Eschyle et la comédie’, in J. Bremer et al. (eds) Miscellanea tragica in honorem J.C. Kamerbeek (Amsterdam): 249-69.


Bibliography and abbreviations Platter, C. (2007) Aristophanes and the Carnival of Genres (Baltimore). Pohlenz, M. (1912) ‘Aristophanes und Eupolis’, Hermes 47: 341-7. Pohlenz, M. (1920) ‘Die Anfänge der griechischen Poetik’, NGG 1920: 142-78 (reprinted in Kleine Schriften II [Hildesheim 1965]: 436-72). Pöhlmann, E. (1988) Beiträge zur antike und neueren Musikgeschichte (Frankfurt). Porter, J.I. (1993), ‘The Seductions of Gorgias’, ClAnt 12: 267-99. Powell, N. (2008) Amis and Son: Two Literary Generations (London). Pritchard, D. (2004) ‘Kleisthenes, Participation, and the Dithyrambic Contests of Late Archaic and Classical Athens’, Phoenix 58: 208-28. Radermacher, L. (1951) (ed.) Artium Scriptores (Vienna). Radermacher, L. (1954) (ed.) Aristophanes: Frösche, revised ed. (Vienna). Rau, P. (1967) Paratragodia: Untersuchung einer komischen Form des Aristophanes (Munich). Reckford, K. (1977) ‘Catharsis and Dream-Interpretation in Aristophanes’ Wasps’, TAPA 107: 282-313. Redfield, J. (1990) ‘Drama and Community: Aristophanes and Some of his Rivals’, in J. Winkler and F. Zeitlin (eds) Nothing to Do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in its Social Context (Princeton): 314-35. Reitzenstein, E. (1931) ‘Zur Stiltheorie des Kallimachos’, in H. Fraenkel and E. Fraenkel (eds) Festschrift für R. Reitzenstein (Leipzig): 23-69. Revermann, M. (2006a) ‘The Competence of Theatre Audiences in Fifth- and Fourth-Century Athens’, JHS 126: 99-124. Revermann, M. (2006b) Comic Business: Theatricality, Dramatic Technique, and Performance Contexts of Aristophanic Comedy (Oxford). Rhodes, P.J. (2003) ‘Nothing to do with democracy: Athenian drama and the polis’, JHS 123: 104-19. Richards, I.A. (1929) Practical Criticism (London). Richards, I.A. (1936) The Philosophy of Rhetoric (Oxford). Richardson, N. (1975) ‘Homeric Professors in the Age of the Sophists’, PCPS 21: 65-81. Robb, K. (1994) Literacy and Paideia in Ancient Greece (Oxford). Robson, J. (2006) Humour, Obscenity and Aristophanes (Tübingen). Robson, J. (2009) Aristophanes: An Introduction (London). Rogers, B. (1902) (ed.) Aristophanes: The Frogs (London). Römer, A. (1905) ‘Über den litterarisch-ästhetischen Bildungstand des attischen Theaterpublikums’, Abhandlungen der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaft 22: 1-95. Roos, E. (1951) Die tragische Orchestik im Zerrbild der altattischen Komödie (Lund). Roscalla, F. (2006) (ed.) L’autore e l’opera: attribuzioni, appropriazioni, apocrifi nella Grecia antica. Memorie e atti di convegni 34 (Pisa). Rose, M. (1993) Parody: Ancient, Modern, and Post-Modern (Cambridge). Rosen, R.M. (1989) ‘Trouble in the Early Career of Plato Comicus: Another Look at POxy 2737.44-51 (PCG III 2, 590)’, ZPE 76: 223-8. Rosen, R.M. (1997) ‘Performance and Textuality in Aristophanes’ Clouds’, Yale Journal of Criticism 10: 397-421. Rosen, R.M. (2000) ‘Cratinus’ Pytine and the Construction of the Comic Self’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 23-40. Rosen, R.M. (2004) ‘Aristophanes’ Frogs and The Contest of Homer and Hesiod’, TAPA 134: 295-322. Rosen, R.M. (2005) ‘Aristophanes, Old Comedy, and Greek Tragedy’, in R. Bushnell (ed.), A Companion to Tragedy (Oxford). Rosen, R.M. (2006) ‘Aristophanes, Fandom, and the Classicizing of Greek


Bibliography and abbreviations Tragedy’, in L. Kosak and J. Rich (eds) Playing Around Aristophanes (Oxford): 27-47. Rosen, R.M. (2008) ‘Badness and Intentionality in Aristophanes’ Frogs’, in R.M. Rosen and I. Sluiter (eds), Kakos: Badness and Anti-Value in Antiquity (Leiden): 143-68. Rossi, L.E. (1980) ‘Mimica e danza sulla scena comica greca’, Rivista di Cultura Classica e Medievale: Miscellanea di Studi in Memoria di Marino Barchiesi (Bari): 1149-70. Rothwell, K. (2007) Nature, Culture and the Origins of Greek Comedy (Cambridge). Roux, G. (1976) ‘Un maître disparu de l’ancienne comédie: le poète Cratès, jugé par Aristophane’, Revue de Phil. 50: 256-65. Ruffell, I. (2002) ‘A Total Write-Off. Aristophanes, Cratinus, and the Rhetoric of Comic Competition’, CQ 52: 138-63. Russell, D.A. (1981) Criticism in Antiquity (London). Russell, D.A. and Winterbottom, M. (1972) Ancient Literary Criticism (Oxford). Russo, C.F. (1994) Aristophanes, an Author for the Stage, tr. K. Wren (London). (Originally published in Italian, Aristofane autore di teatro, Florence 1962). Rutherford, I. (1998) Canons of Style in the Antonine Age (Oxford). Schlesinger, A.C. (1936) ‘Indications of Parody in Aristophanes’, TAPA 67: 296314. Schlesinger, A.C. (1937) ‘Identification of Parodies in Aristophanes’, AJP 58: 294305. Schmid, W. and Stählin, O. (1946), Geschichte der griechischen Literatur I.4 (Munich). Schwinge, E.-R. (1977) ‘Aristophanes und die Utopie’, Würzburger Jahrbücher 3: 43-67. Schwinge, E.-R. (1997) Griechische Tragödie und zeitgenössische Rezeption Aristophanes und Gorgias zur Frage einer angemessenen Tragödiendeutung (Stuttgart). Sedgwick, W. (1948) ‘The Frogs and the Audience’, C&M 9: 1-9. Segal, C. (1961) ‘The Character and Cults of Dionysus and the Unity of Frogs’, HSPh 65: 207-42. Segal, C. (1962) ‘Gorgias and the Psychology of the Logos’, HSCP 66: 99-155. Segal, E. (2001) The Death of Comedy (Oxford). Sider, D. (2001) ‘”As is the Generation of Leaves” in Homer, Simonides and Stobaeus,’ in D. Boedeker and D. Sider (eds) The New Simonides (New York) 272-88. Sidwell, K. (1990) ‘Was Philokleon Cured? The Nosos Theme in Aristophanes’ Wasps’, C&M 41: 9-31. Sidwell, K. (1995) ‘Poetic Rivalry and the Caricature of Comic Poets’, in A. Griffiths (ed.), Stage Directions: Essays in Ancient Drama in Honour of E.W. Handley (London): 56-80. Sidwell, K. (2000) ‘From Old to Middle to New? Aristotle’s Poetics and the History of Athenian Comedy’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 247-58. Sidwell, K. (2009) Aristophanes the Democrat (Cambridge). Silk, M.S. (1974) Interaction in Poetic Imagery (Cambridge). Silk, M.S. (1988) ‘The Autonomy of Comedy’, Comparative Criticism 10: 3-37. Silk, M.S. (1993) ‘Aristophanic Paratragedy’, in A.H. Sommerstein et al. (eds), Tragedy, Comedy and the Polis (Bari). Silk, M.S. (2000a) Aristophanes and the Definition of Comedy (Oxford). Silk, M.S. (2000b) ‘Aristophanes versus The Rest: Comic Poetry in Old Comedy’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 299-316. Slater, N.W. (1996) ‘Literacy and Old Comedy’, in Worthington (1996): 99-112.


Bibliography and abbreviations Slater, N.W. (2002) Spectator Politics: Metatheatre and Performance in Aristophanes (Philadelphia). Sluiter, I. (2000) ‘The Dialectics of Genre: Some Aspects of Secondary Literature and Genre in Antiquity’, in D. Obbink and M. Depew (eds) Matrices of Genre (Cambridge, MA): 183-203. Smith, A.J. (2006) Metaphysical Wit (Cambridge). Smith, Z. (2009) Changing My Mind (London). Sommerstein, A.H. (1983) (ed.) Aristophanes: Wasps (Warminster). Sommerstein, A.H. (1992) ‘Old Comedians on Old Comedy’, Drama 1: 14-33. Sommerstein, A.H. (1994) (ed.) Aristophanes: Thesmophoriazusae (Warminster). Sommerstein, A.H. (1996) (ed.) Aristophanes: Frogs (Warminster). Sommerstein, A.H. (1998) (ed.) Aristophanes: Ecclesiazusae (Warminster). Sommerstein, A.H. (2000) ‘Platon, Eupolis and the “Demagogue-Comedy”’, in Harvey and Wilkins (2000): 439-52. Sommerstein, A.H. (2001) (ed.) Aristophanes: Wealth (Warminster). Steiner, D. (1986) The Crown of Song: Metaphor in Pindar (London). Stemplinger, E. (1912) Der Plagiat in der griechischen Literatur (Leipzig). Stevens, P. T. (1956) ‘Euripides and the Athenians’, JHS 76: 87-94. Stinton, T.C.W. (1976) ‘Si Credere Dignum Est: Some Expressions of Disbelief in Euripides and Others’, PCPS 202: 60-89. Storey, I.C. (1985) ‘The Symposium at Wasps 1299ff.’, Phoenix 39: 317-33. Storey, I.C. (1998) ‘Poets, Politicians and Perverts: Personal Humour in Aristophanes’, Classics Ireland 5: 85-134. Storey, I.C. (2003) Eupolis: Poet of Old Comedy (Oxford). Storey, I.C. (2004) ‘The Curious Matter of the Lenaia Festival of 422’, in D. Phillips and D. Pritchard (eds), Sport and Festival in the Greek World (Swansea): 281-92. Svenbro, J. (1984) La parola e il marmo (Lund). Taillardat, J. (1965) Les Images d’Aristophane, revised ed. (Paris). Taplin, O.P. (1983) ‘Tragedy and Trugedy’, CQ 33: 331-3. Taplin, O.P. (1978) Greek Tragedy in Action (London). Taplin, O.P. (1993) Comic Angels (Oxford). Taplin, O.P. (2007) Pots and Plays (New York). Thomas, R. (1989) Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece (Cambridge). Todd, R. (1996) Consuming Fictions (London). Toffler, A. (1970) Future Shock (New York). Too, Y.L. (1998) The Idea of Ancient Literary Criticism (Oxford). Too, Y.L. (2010) The Idea of the Library in the Ancient World (Oxford). Trier, J. (1931) Der deutsche Wortschatz im Sinnbezirk des Verstandes (Heidelberg). Tyrell, W. B. (2005) ‘Sophocles Wins Again’, CW 99: 21-4. Vaio, J. (1971) ‘Aristophanes’ Wasps. The Relevance of the Final Scenes’, GRBS 12: 335-51. Vamvouri-Ruffy, M. (2004) ‘Interprétations comiques des métaphores d’Euripides dans les Grenouilles d’Aristophane’, in C. Calame (ed.) Poétique d’Aristophane et langue d’Euripide en dialogue (Lausanne): 95-116. Van Hook, L. (1917) ‘Psychrotês ê to psychron’, CPhil 12: 68-76. Verdenius, W.J. (1983) ‘The Principles of Greek Literary Criticism’, Mnemosyne 36: 14-59. von Möllendorff (1995) Grundlagen einer Ästhetik der alten Komödie: Untersuchungen zu Aristophanes und Michail Bachtin (Tübingen). Wachsmuth, K. (1882) Studien zu den griechischen Florilegien (Berlin). Wallace, R. W. (1997) ‘Poet, Public and “Theatrocracy”: Audience Performance in Classical Athens’, in L. Edmunds and R. W. Wallace (eds) Poet, Public, and Performance in Ancient Greece (Baltimore): 22-30. Walsh, G. (1984) The Varieties of Enchantment (Chapel Hill).


Bibliography and abbreviations Wardy, R. (1997) The Birth of Rhetoric (London). Watson, L. (2007) ‘The Bogus Teacher and his Relevance for Ovid’s Ars Amatoria’, Rh.M. 150: 327-74. West, M.L. (1984) ‘The Ascription of Fables to Aesop in Archaic and Classical Greece’, Entretiens Hardt 30: 105-36. West, M.L. (1992) Ancient Greek Music (Oxford). White, E.B. (1977) Selected Essays (New York). Whitmarsh, T. (2001) Greek Literature and the Roman Empire (Oxford). Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, U. von (1921) Einleitung in die griechischen Tragödie3 (Berlin). Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, U. von (1959) Euripides: Herakles, I: Einleitung in die griechische Tragödie (Darmstadt). Wilson, L. (1999) Literary Seductions (London). Wilson, P. (2000) The Athenian Institution of the Khoregia (Cambridge). Wimsatt, W.K. and Beardsley, M.C. (1995) ‘The Intentional Fallacy’, in Burke (1995). Winnington-Ingram, R.P. (1969) ‘Euripides: poietes sophos’, Arethusa 2: 127-42. Winsbury, R. (2009) The Roman Book (London). Wise, J. (1998) Dionysus Writes: The Invention of Theatre in Ancient Greece (Ithaca). Wilamowitz-Möllendorff, I. von (1921) Griechische Verskunst (Berlin). Wilde, O. (1891) The Critic as Artist (London). Wilkins, J.M. (1997) ‘Comic Cuisine: Food and Eating in the Comic Polis’, in Dobrov (1997): 250-69. Wilkins, J.M. (2000a) The Boastful Chef: The Discourse of Food in Ancient Greek Comedy (Oxford). Wilkins, J.M. (2000b) ‘Athenaeus and the Fishes of Archippus’, in D.C. Braund and J.M. Wilkins (eds) Athenaeus and his World (Exeter). Willi, A. (2003) The Languages of Aristophanes (Oxford). Williams, R. (1976) Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (London). Wilson, N.J. (1971) ‘An Aristarchean Maxim’ CR 21: 172. Wilson, N.J. (2007) (ed.) Aristophanis Fabulae (Oxford). Wilson, P. (1996) ‘Tragic Rhetoric: The Use of Tragedy and the Tragic in the Fourth Century’, in M.S. Silk (ed.) Tragedy and The Tragic (Oxford): 310-31. Wimmel, W. (1960) Kallimachos in Rom (Wiesbaden). Wise, J. (1998) Dionysus Writes: The Invention of Theater in Ancient Greece (Ithaca). Woodbury, L. (1986) ‘The Judgement of Dionysus: Books, Taste and Teaching in the Frogs’, in M.J. Cropp et al. (eds), Greek Tragedy and its Legacy (Calgary): 241-57. Worman, N. (2002) The Cast of Character: Style in Greek Literature (Austin). Worthington, I. (1996) (ed.) Voice into Text: Orality and Literacy in Ancient Greece (Leiden). Wright, M.E. (2005) Euripides’ Escape-Tragedies: A Study of Helen, Andromeda and Iphigenia among the Taurians (Oxford). Wright, M.E. (2008) Euripides: Orestes (London). Wright, M.E. (2009) ‘Literary Prizes and Literary Criticism in Antiquity’, ClAnt 28: 138-77. Wright, M.E. (2010) ‘The Tragedian as Critic: Euripides and Early Greek Poetics’, JHS 130: 165-84. Wright, M.E. (forthcoming) ‘Comedy versus Tragedy in Wasps’, in E. Bakola, L. Prauscello and M. Teló (eds), Comic Interactions (Cambridge). Yunis, H. (2003) Written Texts and the Rise of Literate Culture in Ancient Greece (Cambridge).


Bibliography and abbreviations Zanetto, G. (2006) ‘Tragodia versus trygodia: la rivalità letteraria nella commedia antica’, in Medda et al. (2006): 307-25. Zeitlin, F.I. (1996) Playing the Other: Gender and Society in Classical Greek Literature (Chicago). Zimmermann, B. (2006) ‘Poetics and Politics in the Comedies of Aristophanes’, in L. Kosak and J. Rich (eds) Playing Around Aristophanes (Oxford): 6-16.


This page intentionally left blank

Index of passages cited References to the pages of this book are in bold type. ALCAEUS Comitragedy fr. 19: 148, 206 AMPHIS Dithyramb fr. 14: 5, 8-9, 191 ANACREON eleg. fr. 2: 127, 202 ANTIPHANES Poetry fr. 189: 77, 208 ARCHILOCHUS fr. 120: 127, 202 ARCHIPPUS fr. 28: 134 fr. 51: 28 ARISTOMENES Sorcerers fr. 9: 63 ARISTOPHANES Acharnians 9: 75, 193; 27: 151; 136-40: 109-10; 380-2: 115, 200; 384: 123, 201; 398: 167; 410-13: 75, 123, 193, 201; 420-9: 123, 167, 201, 209; 444-7: 167; 450: 149, 206; 480: 149, 206; 483: 149, 206; 484: 127, 202; 497-556: 144, 205; 634-5: 144, 205; 885-94: 163; 1150-1: 120-1; 1166-73: 75, 120-1, 193 Aeolosicon fr. 1: 129, 163, 202 Amphiaraus fr. 30: 92 Anagyrus fr. 53: 129, 202; fr. 58: 7, 92, 180 Assemblywomen 219-20: 87-8, 196; 221-8: 90, 196; 330: 82, 225

195; 557-80: 87-8; 583-7: 878; 796-8: 53, 189; 828: 97, 197; 882-3: 135; 1154-62: 47, 188; 1155: 26, 184 Banqueters fr. 205: 78-9, 97-8, 164-5, 194, 209; fr. 206: 27, 78-9, 97-8, 194; fr. 225: 97-8; fr. 227: 97-8; fr. 232: 97-8; fr. 233: 78-9, 97-8, 164-5, 194, 209; fr. 235: 97-8; fr. 239: 164-5, 209 Birds 255-7: 87, 196; 281: 153, 203; 409: 28; 445-7: 47, 188; 748-51: 135; 804-5: 135; 807-8: 150; 903-57: 84, 195; 934-5: 109-10; 974-89: 90, 196; 1102-17: 47, 33, 188; 1232-56: 148, 206; 1288: 63; 1373-1409: 82; 1375-91: 11112, 199 Clouds I (original version) fr. 392: 27, 181 Clouds (revised version) 95: 86, 196; 112-15: 29, 164-5, 185; 126-32: 29, 185; 137: 122-3, 201; 153: 27, 184; 204-5: 27, 184; 225: 112-13; 239-41: 29, 185; 244: 164-5; 260: 114-15; 296: 182; 320: 113; 330-4: 112-13, 199; 333-9: 82, 195; 358: 78-9, 194; 385-97: 78-9, 194; 478-92: 29, 185; 512-17: 27, 30, 184; 520: 76-7, 194;

Index of passages cited 521-3: 29, 76-7, 185, 194; 524-5: 47, 53, 188; 528: 76-7, 194; 528-9: 98, 197; 530-2: 122-3, 201; 534-6: 76-7, 194; 535: 54, 189; 537-44: 76, 193; 544: 63-4, 165, 209; 545-59: 14, 72-7, 76-7, 194; 550-9: 91, 196; 551-6: 7, 180; 552: 76, 193; 574-8: 76-7; 575: 29, 54, 185, 189; 575-94: 19; 638: 789, 194; 658-93: 78-9, 164-5, 194, 209; 773: 27, 184; 821: 86, 196; 883-5: 27, 184; 841: 27, 184; 895-7: 86-7; 930-1: 134, 203; 972: 82, 195; 10312: 76-7, 194; 1036-96: 86, 196; 1052-4: 134, 203; 1111: 86, 196; 1115-30: 47, 188; 1201-3: 29-30, 185; 1260-1: 6, 180; 1353-65: 84; 1367: 115, 200; 1370: 26, 84; 1377: 84; 1395: 117; 1399-1400: 87; 1415: 155-6; 1469: 86, 196 Daedalus fr. 192: 208 Danaids fr. 265: 56, 78, 190, 194; fr. 271: 144, 205 Farmers fr. 117: 121, 135-6, 204 Frogs 1-20: 51-2, 53, 92-3, 189; 59-67: 93-5; 71-2: 66, 192; 8991: 134, 203; 93-5: 66, 120, 192; 96: 122; 101-2: 151, 207; 181: 164, 209; 358: 209; 366: 82, 121, 195; 438-9: 97, 197; 503-64: 96-7; 658-61: 55; 6767: 29, 53, 185; 762-7: 66, 192; 770: 66, 192; 780: 66, 192; 785: 66, 192; 793: 66, 192; 802: 66, 165-6, 192, 209; 80511: 47, 55, 188; 811: 66, 192; 814: 115, 200; 814-29: 66, 119, 136, 192, 200, 204; 831: 66, 192; 840: 66, 192; 841: 226

167, 209; 868-9: 63; 875-84: 66, 136, 192, 204; 905-1416: 165-6, 209; 910: 53; 917: 134, 203; 917-18: 55; 929: 115, 200; 954: 134, 203; 956: 136, 204; 1043-56: 85, 196; 1059: 122; 1060-6: 124, 201; 1069: 134, 167, 203, 209; 1071: 167, 209; 1077-82: 150, 151; 1081: 151; 1104-19: 29, 185; 1108: 136, 204; 1108-14: 65, 146, 206; 1111: 136, 204; 1118: 54, 189; 1121: 1656, 209; 1152-68: 166; 1160: 167, 209; 1198-9: 165-6, 209; 1200-47: 90, 196; 1296-1318: 82, 195; 1306-8: 122, 201; 1309-22: 122, 201; 1310: 167, 209; 1364-1410: 114; 1367: 165-6, 209; 1417-21: 66, 192; 1475: 151; 1478: 151; 1500-4: 55; 1515-23: 55, 190 Fry-Cooks fr. 506: 64; fr. 508: 142, 204 Gerytades fr.156a-b: 135-7; fr. 156: 82, 121, 136-7, 182, 195; fr. 158: 136-7; fr. 159: 136-7; fr. 160: 208; fr. 161: 136-7; fr. 162: 136-7; fr. 163: 136-7; fr. 165: 136-7; fr. 178: 125, 202; fr. 595: 134, 203 Heroes fr. 323: 27, 150, 184 Knights 19: 6, 180; 88: 128; 8996: 128; 137: 115, 121, 200; 140-52: 148, 206; 188-9: 65, 192; 191-3: 65, 192; 400-1: 74, 120, 201; 406: 144, 205; 436-7: 115, 121, 200; 461-4: 117; 510-11: 19; 515: 63, 191; 518-25: 53, 73-7, 189; 52637: 73-4, 75, 121, 193; 526-8: 120, 201; 529-30: 41, 187;

Index of passages cited 537-46: 73-4, 121, 131-2; 6268: 115, 121, 200; 985-6: 65, 192; 1015-9: 164-5; 1248-52: 157, 208; 1264-73: 163 Lemnian Women frs 372-3: 163; fr. 373: 167; fr. 382: 121 Lysistrata 188-9: 150; 368: 27-8, 184; 649: 11, 181 Old Age fr. 128: 134 Peace 42-3: 28, 180; 43-4: 53; 58-161: 148, 206; 62: 148, 206; 76-179: 157, 208; 12930: 144, 205; 532-4: 167, 209; 603-4: 144, 151, 205; 700: 184; 736-59: 19, 20, 76, 182, 183, 193; 741-3: 95; 748-50: 117; 750: 165, 209; 757: 115, 121, 200; 762-3: 41, 187; 775801: 144, 205; 798: 26, 184; 815: 120; 827-31: 82, 195; 885-94: 163; 1015-19: 163; 1265-1301: 20, 183 Poetry fr. 467: 83 Polyidus fr. 468: 153-4 Proagon frs 477-8: 129, 202 Wasps 56-64: 8, 35, 180; 57: 109; 60-1: 95; 131: 6, 180; 151: 9, 113, 181, 199; 218-21: 84, 195; 269: 84, 195; 308: 144, 205; 309-16: 149, 206; 325: 113, 199; 457-60: 113, 199; 461-2: 135, 203; 650-1: 19-20; 756-7: 115, 121, 149, 206; 959: 65; 1015-19: 201; 1016-50: 19, 26, 35, 41, 47, 51-2, 71-7, 184, 186, 187, 188; 1044-59: 26, 184; 106970: 85, 196; 1071-4: 153; 1264-91: 28, 184; 1312-13: 64, 192; 1401-5: 144, 205; 140911: 144, 205; 1537: 182 Women at the Thesmophoria

21: 27; 29-30: 15; 39-69: 82, 195; 49: 167, 209; 52-7: 117; 60: 167, 209; 95-174: 82, 195; 130-2: 124-5; 130-4: 121; 13643: 124-5; 138-40: 110; 14870: 75, 193; 149-50: 124-5, 137, 201; 151-2: 124-5; 164: 135; 164-72: 124-5, 137, 201; 167-71: 16; 171-2: 15; 177-9: 81, 154, 195, 207; 181-2: 15; 193-201: 154-5, 207; 275-6: 207; 331-432: 150, 206; 372458: 182; 387: 6, 180; 456: 6, 180; 689-758: 148, 206; 765: 156; 839: 76, 193; 848: 108; 849-928: 156-62, 208; 850: 81; 1130-1: 154, 207 Women at the Thesmophoria II fr. 341: 125, 155, 167, 202, 207; fr. 342b: 167; fr. 347: 834, 131, 137, 182 Women Claiming Tent-Sites fr. 488: 12-13, 103, 180; fr. 495: 133-4 fr. 590: 54, 58, 191 fr. 591: 54, 58, 135, 167, 191, 203, 209 fr. 592: 167 fr. 596: 9, 181 fr. 682: 103 fr. 688: 47, 188 fr. 694: 75, 123, 193 fr. 706: 124, 202 fr. 719: 119-20, 200 fr. 795: 63 ARISTOTLE Poetics 1448a12: 94; 1448a31: 109, 199; 1449b27: 20, 183; 1449b24-5: 5; 1450b: 44, 601, 187, 191; 1451b: 60-1, 71, 191, 193; 1451b35-7: 44, 137; 1452b-54b: 45, 188; 1454a26-


Index of passages cited 8: 6; 1455a-56a: 45, 188; 1457b7: 104-5, 198; 1462: 601, 191 Politics 1341a: 71, 193 Rhetoric 1403b-1404a: 44; 1405b: 108, 198; 1406b: 104, 198 AULUS GELLIUS Attic Nights 17.4: 43, 187 BACCHYLIDES Odes 1.184: 116; 3.97-8: 112; 5.9-10: 116; 10.10: 116 Paean fr. 5: 78, 194 CALLIAS Cyclopes fr. 7: 134 Men in Fetters fr. 15: 28, 184 fr. 26: 94, 130-1 fr. 34: 28 CALLIMACHUS Aetia fr. 1: 138, 204 Hymn to Apollo 108-10: 201, 121 fr. 398: 138-9, 204 fr. 465: 138-9, 204 CHAMAELEON fr. 40: 125, 202 CHIONIDES Beggars fr. 4: 135 CRATES Lamia fr. 21: 165, 209 CRATINUS Archilochus and Friends fr. 6: 135 Cheirons fr. 248: 54, 183, 189; fr. 255: 56, 190; frs. 256-7: 135 Cleobulina and Friends fr. 90: 91, 96; 92: 157, 208 Cowherd fr. 17: 43; fr. 20: 5, 6, 190 Eumenides fr. 70: 117 Hesiod and Friends fr. 115: 165

Laws fr. 128: 63, 66 Odysseus and Friends fr. 153: 77, 84, 194 Performance Records fr. 38: 56, 190 Pylaea fr. 180: 47, 188; fr. 182: 54, 134; fr. 184: 27, 184 Seasons fr. 256: 85, 196; fr. 276: 85, 125, 196, 202 Softies fr. 97: 85, 196 Wealth-Gods fr. 171: 54, 189 The Wine-Flask fr. 196: 127; fr. 199: 127; fr. 202: 127; fr. 203: 26, 122, 128, 202; frs. 208-9: 63; fr. 211: 151; fr. 213: 7, 91, 180; test. ii-iii: 126 fr. 319: 202 fr. 323: 157, 208 fr. 324: 115, 200 fr. 329: 47, 188 fr. 342: 7-9, 28, 53, 180-1, 185, 189 fr. 346: 95, 197 fr. 360: 26, 52, 53 fr. 395: 53 fr. 462: 9, 113, 181, 199 fr. 502: 8-9 DEMETRIUS On Style 114: 108, 198 DEMOCRITUS B21, B119, B142: 117, 200 ECPHANTIDES fr. 2: 109 fr. 3: 9 EUPOLIS Autolycus fr. 60: 77, 194, 203; fr. 65: 41, 187 Cities fr. 219: 151, 207 Demes fr. 99: 21, 147-8, 152, 182; fr. 102: 115, 200; fr. 135: 113 Dippers fr. 89: 6-7, 91-2


Index of passages cited Flatterers fr. 172: 185 Goats fr. 4: 66, 165, 209; fr. 18: 165, 209 Golden Race fr. 309: 144 Helots fr. 148: 85 Maricas fr. 192: 21; fr. 205: 21, 63; fr. 208: 64; fr. 210: 92 Prospaltians fr. 261: 109 Taxiarchs fr. 268: 150 fr. 326: 85-6, 118, 200 fr. 327: 63 fr. 366: 84, 195 fr. 385: 27 fr. 392: 13-14, 26, 52, 53, 58, 151, 191 fr. 395: 84, 196 fr. 398: 84, 196 EURIPIDES Aeolus fr. 19: 151, 207 Antiope fr. 188: 26 Bacchae 395-6: 26, 185 Electra 524: 26 Erechtheus fr. 369: 26 Helen 1056: 81, 195 Hippolytus 612: 151, 207 Orestes 1503: 81, 195 Stheneboea fr. 663: 153, 207 Trojan Women 511-12: 81, 195 GORGIAS B8: 25, 184 B11: 117, 200 HEGEMON fr. 1: 134 HERMIPPUS Birth of Athena fr. 77: 163 Porters fr. 63: 144, 163; fr. 64: 91, 196 HOMER Odyssey 1.351-2: 78, 89 Iliad 15.412: 25, 183 HORACE Art of Poetry 224: 51, 189

Epistles 2.1.177-86: 51, 56, 189, 190 Satires 1.10.72-4: 51, 189 LIFE OF SOPHOCLES 8: 42, 187; 16: 41, 187 LONGINUS On the Sublime 5.1: 71, 193; 6.1: 61-2, 191; 7.2-3: 62, 191; 9.11-15: 74, 121, 193, 201; 12.3: 121, 201; 13.1-3: 121, 201; 32.1: 121, 201; 33.1: 42, 61-2, 191; 33-4: 42, 62, 191; 35.2: 187, 61-2, 191; 35.4: 121, 201; 36.2: 61-2, 191; 44.1-4: 61-2, 191 LUCIAN Bis Accus. 33: 88, 196 Pisc. 25: 88, 196 Rhetor’s Education 17: 89-90, 196 True Histories 1.2-3: 89-90, 196 Zeuxis 1-3: 88-90 LYSIPPUS Bacchantes fr. 4: 13-14, 91, 196 METAGENES The Man Who Liked Sacrifices fr. 15: 13-14, 77, 131-2, 137, 194, 203 OVID Tristia 2.498-501: 50-1 PHERECRATES Cheiron fr. 155: 82, 85, 122, 196, 201 Corianno fr. 84: 77, 194 The False Heracles fr. 163: 8, 28, 53, 180 Mr Forgetful fr. 56: 121 Small Fry fr. 100: 95, 118, 165, 209; fr. 101: 130; fr. 102: 47, 95, 188 fr. 228: 87, 196 229

Index of passages cited PHILIPPIDES fr. 171: 20, 183 PHILONIDES fr. 7: 153 PHRYNICHUS The Nightmare fr. 3: 47, 53, 188, 189 Muses fr. 32: 28, 84, 96 Satyrs fr. 48: 148 Tragedians fr. 56: 165, 209; fr. 58: 165, 209 fr. 68: 166, 209 PINDAR Isthmian 6.1-9: 127, 202 Nemeans 3.45, 4.81, 5.1-3: 116, 200 Olympian 6.1.1-4: 116, 200 PLATO Apology 19c: 112-13; 20d-23a: 25, 184 Euthydemus 271b: 195 Ion 532d5-8: 25, 184 Laws 656c-657b: 71, 193; 657e-658e: 48; 658b-d: 45; 658e6-659b5: 48; 659c1: 48-9, 189; 659c4-7: 44, 188; 660ab: 71, 193; 665b-e: 49, 189; 668c-670b: 49, 189; 672a-b: 49, 189; 700a-701b: 48; 797ab: 71, 88, 193, 196; 817d: 56, 190 Protagoras 317b: 25, 184; 338e-347c: 143, 205 Republic 376c-388d: 49, 189; 390a: 25, 184; 398a1-2: 25, 45, 184, 188; 404d: 195; 424c: 71, 82-3, 193, 195; 607c: 114 PLATON Festivals fr. 29: 168 Hyperbolus fr. 184: 82, 195 Laconians or Poets fr. 69: 118, 165, 209; fr. 70: 144, 205

The Little Child fr. 99: 58 A Man in Terrible Pain fr. 115: 7 Menelaus fr. 76: 129, 202 Peisander fr. 106: 56, 91 Phaon fr. 189: 63, 144, 205 Poet fr. 122: 63 Sophists fr. 143: 157, 208 Stage-Properties fr. 132: 32-3; fr. 136: 165; fr. 142: 168 Wool-Carders fr. 96: 54 fr. 590: 34, 186 PLUTARCH Cimon 8.7-9: 41, 47, 187, 188 Moralia 711f: 6, 180; 854c: 184 QUINTILIAN Inst. Or. 10.1.72: 43, 187; 10.1.78: 121, 201; 10.1.94: 121, 201 SENECA Epistle 114: 123, 201 STRATTIS Cinesias fr. 21: 135-6, 204 Men Cooling Off fr. 57: 135-6, 204 Orestes the Man fr. 1: 27 Phoenician Women fr. 50: 150 fr. 72: 150-1, 207 SUSARION fr. 1: 13 TELECLEIDES Amphictyones fr. 4: 47, 53, 188, 189 fr. 41: 28, 81, 134, 181, 184 fr. 42: 117 THEOPOMPUS Sirens fr. 51: 84 fr. 79: 64, 192 THUCYDIDES History 1.22.4: 62, 81, 191, 195; 1.71: 81, 195; 3.37-8: 26, 801; 3.82-3: 78-9, 81, 194, 195;


Index of passages cited 6.77.1: 26, 184 TIMOCLES fr. 6: 183 TIMOTHEUS Persians fr. 791: 82, 195; fr.

796: 82, 195 VITRUVIUS De Arch. 50: 189 [XENOPHON] Ath. Pol. 1.13: 51, 189


This page intentionally left blank

General index Academy Awards 58 Acestor 157, 162, 208 actors and acting 44, 57 Aeschylus 15, 22-4, 41, 54-5, 63, 66, 95-6, 114, 115, 118-19, 122, 125, 134, 137-8, 150-1, 161, 162, 165-6, 200, 208, 209 Aestheticism 31-2, 185 aesthetics 5, 38-9, 133-9 Agathon 15-16, 41, 117, 121, 1245, 137, 154-5, 167, 202, 207 Alcaeus 162 Allen, Woody 14, 58, 182 ’Allo ’Allo 196 Ameipsias 27, 51, 80, 92-3, 195 Amis, Kingsley 58, 125-6, 191 Antimachus 120 Antisthenes 4, 143, 205 appropriateness (to prepon) 158, 162-4 Archilochus 144, 151, 205 Archippus 33, 96, 194 Aristarchus 155, 207 Aristomenes 55, 96, 190 Aristophanes 1, 4, 6-9, 10-16, 26-7, 29-30, 54, 57-8, 62, 63-4, 65-6, 69, 70-7, 72-8, 82, 84, 91-9, 103, 106-7, 141, 147-8, 162, 169-71, 180, 181, 189 Acharnians 10-16, 17-19, 20, 125, 147 Babylonians 10-11 Banqueters 97-8, 144, 164-5 Birds 33 Clouds 27, 29-30, 34, 51-2, 54,

63-4, 71-2, 193, 78-80, 85, 979, 127, 164-5, 188 Drama(s) 15 Frogs 15, 21-4, 29, 32, 34, 43, 54-5, 69, 84, 92-102, 106-7, 135-9, 144, 147, 152-3, 164-8, 170-1, 194, 195, 204, 210 Gerytades 15, 80, 95-6, 135-9, 163-4, 195, 197, 204 Knights 65-6, 80, 83-4, 91-2, 127 Proagon 15, 33-5, 95 Wasps 33-5, 51-4, 84 Women at the Thesmophoria 15, 124-5, 147, 152-3, 154-5, 156-62 Aristophanes of Byzantium 50 Aristotle 2, 3, 5-6, 17, 20, 41, 43, 44-5, 46-50, 57, 60-1, 62, 68, 71, 82, 88, 104, 108, 121, 123, 134, 157, 165, 170, 183, 187, 195, 208 Athenaeus 77, 84, 94, 130, 134, 135-6, 164, 194, 195, 203, 209 audiences 2, 5, 7-8, 14, 16-17, 18, 20, 24, 26, 29-30, 31-2, 44, 45, 46-60, 63-4, 71-7, 80-1, 867, 91, 113, 119, 145, 159-60, 169-70 ‘ideal’ or ‘target’ audience 5, 32, 57, 64, 89, 91, 96, 98, 132-3, 141-4, 145-6, 169-70 bad poetry 108-10, 120-2, 134-8, 157, 162, 208 Bakhtin, Mikhail 10-16, 145-6,


General index 163-4, 181, 205-6, 209 Barthes, Roland 15 biographical tradition (ancient) 41-4, 125-6, 142, 180, 189 Bloom, Harold 104 Booker Prize 58, 67-9 books 4, 5, 42, 45, 60-66, 141-71 (see also literature; readers) booze and writing 12, 26, 120, 1258, 163, 166-7 Bourdieu, Pierre 24, 37-40, 46, 51, 59-60, 61, 67-9, 86, 114, 1329, 186, 191, 196 Callias 94, 96, 121, 130, 162 Callimachus 121, 138-9, 201, 204 character 10-16, 45, 74, 193, 123-5 Choerilus 8, 9, 181 chorêgia 41-2, 57, 186 Cinesias 15, 81, 112-13, 121-2, 135-8, 197, 199, 204 ‘classic’ literature 43, 86, 144-5 Cleon 6, 65, 72-3, 80-1, 97, 115 cleverness (dexiotês, sophia) 8, 24, 25-30, 35, 45, 52-4, 71-3, 767, 80-1, 84-5, 86-7, 154, 166, 183-4, 196, 207, 209 clichés 16-17, 106-7, 139-40, 153 collaboration, authorial 5-6, 73, 91-7, 196 comedy (generic characteristics) ix, 1, 2, 3, 4-5, 11-12, 16-17, 20-2, 31, 79, 88-9, 90, 106, 128, 129, 141-4, 144-5, 168-71 contests, dramatic x, 1, 3, 22-4, 3169 (see also rivalry) Crates 73-4, 83-4, 131-2, 133 Cratinus 7-10, 12, 26-7, 33, 43, 512, 56, 57-8, 62, 73-4, 75, 1201, 126-8, 162, 180, 193 All-Seeing Ones 80, 98, 195, 197 Archilochus and Friends 33, 144

Dionysus as Paris 9, 33, 55, 96, 162, 185, 190 Eumenides 162 Nemesis 162 Performance Records 33 Satyrs 162 The Wine-Flask 12, 126-8, 202 Critias 96 criticism, history of 1, 2-5, 31, 12930, 141-3 Damastes of Sigeum 142-3 demagogue-comedies 6, 65, 72-3, 80, 180, 192, 193, 194 dialogism 10-16 (see also voice) Dicaeopolis 10-16, 17-19, 109, 123 didactic use of poetry 19, 20-4, 25, 48-50, 97-8, 152-3 Diocles 97, 197 Diodorus 34 Dionysus 4, 23-4, 27, 33, 51, 54-5, 66, 93-7, 122, 127, 151, 190 Dissoi Logoi 17-18, 98, 164 dithyramb 58-9, 111-12, 135-8, 163 Doriallus 121 Eco, Umberto 91 Ecphantides 8, 9, 162 elite vs popular culture 3, 5, 31-2, 36-9, 46-7, 49, 57, 58-9, 61, 63, 64-5, 67-9, 71, 80-1, 89-90, 94, 130-9, 169-71 enchantment 21, 183 epic 14, 144, 162-4 (see also Homer) etymology 4, 12, 164-5, 167, 209 Eupolis 6, 18, 20-4, 84, 194 Autolycus 33, 97, 197 Demes 21-4, 95, 115 Flatterers 80, 195 Goats 165, 209


General index Maricas 21, 72-3, 80 Taxiarchs 55, 96, 190 Euripidaristophanizing 7-9, 12-13, 27-8, 34-5, 75, 94-5, 97, 180, 197 Euripides 7-9, 11-12, 15-16, 1719, 22-4, 26-8, 35, 43, 54-5, 63, 66, 81, 84, 94-5, 103, 114, 118-19, 121-2, 123, 125, 134, 137-8, 147-62, 162-4, 165-6, 167-8, 183, 184, 189-90 Eurovision Song Contest 57 Eustathius 168, 209 evaluation of poetry 25, 35-46, 49, 61-2, 66, 67-9, 70, 104-6, 10810, 117, 120-2, 145-6, 162, 166 fashion 83-6 festivals 31, 33-4, 36, 40, 41-2, 43, 52, 54-5, 57, 59-60, 62, 68-9, 87, 127, 134, 141, 147, 186, 190, 192 food and literature 77, 93-7, 12939, 144, 163, 202, 205 Galen 165, 209 generation gap 52-3, 64, 73-4, 7883, 84-6, 97-8, 115, 131, 165 Genette, Gerard 91, 93-7 genre 1, 3, 4-5, 9, 19-20, 158, 162-4, 209 (see also comedy; tragedy) Gnesippus 43, 85, 135, 196 Gorgias 4, 25, 44, 106-7, 112, 114, 116, 144, 188, 200, 205 Hecataeus 142-3 Hegemon 94, 134, 197 Heracles 19, 20, 93-7 Hermippus 72-3, 144, 162, 171 Herodotus 144, 205

Hesiod 17, 22, 138, 142-3, 144 Hesychius 9, 181 Hippias 143, 205 Homer 2, 5, 17, 22, 25, 36, 45, 61, 78, 89, 117, 134, 142-4, 155, 164-5, 183, 186, 194, 205 humour and jokes ix, 1, 5-10, 1820, 24, 31-2, 35, 43, 55-6, 57, 64, 70-1, 84, 93-5, 97, 99-102, 109, 111-12, 124-5, 135-6, 139-40, 144-5, 146, 148-9, 151-2, 162, 164 hypertextuality 91-7 inspiration 127-8, 136 interpretation, problems of 1, 3, 5-10, 31-2, 49, 64-5, 75-6, 84, 103-8, 127-8, 139-40, 164-5, 166 intertextuality 4, 9, 64, 78, 95, 143-56, 169 (see also hypertextuality) Ion of Chios 142-3 irony x, 1, 5-10, 10-16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 28-30, 31-2, 35, 52, 54-6, 58, 63, 70-1, 71-7, 87, 91, 99, 120, 169, 185, 194 jokes see humour keywords 78-83 leptotês (‘slenderness’) 113-14, 136-9, 204 Leucon 34 literary criticism, nature of 2-5, 16-17, 36, 61-2, 66, 68-9, 71, 78, 85-6, 106, 133, 139, 145, 164, 168-71 ‘literature’ as category 2, 5, 23-4, 36-40, 42, 60-66, 69, 85-6, 8890, 107-8, 141-71


General index Longinus 2, 41-2, 59, 61-2, 68, 71, 74, 83, 88, 165 lyric poetry 2, 14, 36, 78, 84, 1056, 111-12, 116-17, 127, 144, 182, 186, 194 Lysis 27, 92-3 Magnes 33, 73-4, 96 maxims (gnômai) 150-6 medicine and poetry compared 1920, 137 Megarian comedy 9, 13, 109 Melanthius 120, 162 Meletus 15, 121, 135-7, 197, 204 Menander 43, 63, 153, 192 Metagenes 63 metaphors x, 51, 61, 94, 103-40, 166-7 metatheatricality 87, 126-7, 161 mimêsis 5, 60, 157, 201 morality and literature 85, 87, 123-5, 151-2, 154-5 (see also character) Morsimus 120, 162, 165 mousikê 52-3, 65-6, 82-3, 84, 165, 195, 209 Myrtilus 9 ‘New Music’ 52-3, 80, 81-3, 122 Nicochares 33 Nicophon 63 novelty (kainotês) x, 7, 29, 45, 52, 58-9, 70-102, 113, 130-2, 1578, 203 palimpsestic (hypertextual) texts 4, 90-99, 144 parabasis 10-11, 13-14, 24, 26, 2930, 47, 51-4, 71-7, 83-4, 121-2, 193 parody and pastiche 4, 8, 9, 11-12, 23, 64, 78, 94, 111, 113, 143-

4, 145-50, 156-62, 164, 206 pea soup 93-7, 133 ‘performance culture’ 3-5, 38, 6066, 141-4, 162-3, 204 personified abstractions 121-2, 126-8 Pherecrates 15, 47, 95, 130, 188 Philemon 43 Philocles 16 Philonides 33-4 Phrynichus (comedian) 27, 28, 33, 53, 96, 197 Muses 15, 33, 165, 209 Satyrs 162 Tragedians 162 Phrynichus (tragedian) 72-3, 84, 135, 195 Pindar 25, 62, 78, 79, 84, 112, 11617, 183, 191, 194, 205 plagiarism jokes 6-7, 72-3, 77, 917, 196 Plato (philosopher) xi, 2, 3, 17, 22, 36, 41, 44-5, 46-50, 61, 68, 71, 81, 82, 88, 114, 121, 153, 170, 189, 195, 199 Platon (comedian) x, 7, 32-3, 80, 162, 168, 171, 195 plot construction 44-5, 60-1, 77, 156-7, 168, 208 Plutarch 6, 153 polemic, literary 5, 8-9, 71-7, 83-5, 104, 108-10, 120-2, 127, 1345, 139, 162, 166 Polyzelus 9 practical criticism 85-6, 118-19, 164-8, 209 prizes 24, 26, 31-69, 71, 127 Prodicus 143, 204 Protagoras 4, 143, 204 psychrotês (‘coldness’) 108-10 quotation 4, 63, 143-71


General index readers and reading x, 4, 5, 42, 45, 60-66, 91, 98, 141-71 (see also books) recognition 90, 99-100, 161-2 ‘refraction’ 16-17, 106-8, 139-40 repetition 23-4, 72, 90-99, 196 revision 63-4, 97-9, 197 rhetoric 4, 11, 18, 29, 31, 44, 71, 73, 99, 104-5, 107-8, 114, 11516, 129, 137-9 rivalry 1, 7, 21, 26-7, 31-69, 71-7, 91, 92-3, 109, 116, 119, 126-7, 130-1, 144-5, 165, 171 running gags 57, 90-9 Sannyrion 15, 135-6, 197, 204 sex and literature 41, 85, 121-3, 126, 163 Simonides 84, 116, 143, 144, 200, 205 social function of poetry 6, 11-16, 17-24, 47-9, 84, 87, 120, 152 society and social transformation 3, 36-7, 40, 67-9, 74, 78-83, 162, 192 (see also ‘generation gap’) Socrates 25-6, 76-7, 84, 86, 112-13, 114-15, 181, 197 sophists 25-6, 27, 64, 76-7, 78-81, 106-7, 112-13, 142, 143, 164, 204, 209 Sophocles 15, 27, 28, 41-2, 43, 108, 127, 148-50, 151, 153-4, 160, 165-6, 184, 186-7, 206, 209 stand-up comedy 14, 76 Stesichorus 84, 144, 205 Stesimbrotus of Thasus 142-3 Sthenelus 136-7, 192, 209 Stobaeus (John of Stobi) 53, 152-3, 207 Strattis 162, 171 style ix, 9, 12-13, 66, 103-4, 107-8,

108-10, 111-12, 114, 117-20, 123-5, 127, 135-9, 143, 162-4, 164-8, 181, 201, 204 subtlety x, 8, 56, 113-14 Suda 41, 181 Susarion 13 synkrisis 9, 85, 163-4, 165-6 taste 37-8, 79, 129-39, 186, 202, 203 technê 24, 42, 55, 66, 69, 117-19, 165-6, 209 Telecleides 97, 144, 197, 205 television 5, 57, 201 Theognis 75, 109-10, 193, 199 Thucydides 25-6, 62, 191 titles of plays 9, 97, 173-7 tragedy 8-9, 11-12, 17-19, 21-4, 31, 42, 75, 134, 141, 144-5, 14762, 162-4 and paratragedy 8-9, 11-12, 1719, 35, 150 translation (difficulties) x, 8, 25, 27, 65, 70, 72-3, 78-9, 108, 113-14, 155, 189, 193, 207 trygoidia 11-12, 17-20, 21, 181 utilitarian readings 24, 183 (see also social function of poetry) ‘ventriloquial paracomedy’ 12, 18, 21, 181 vocabulary 25-30, 78-83, 163-5 glossai 5, 164-5 orthotês onomatôn 78-83, 117, 143, 161, 164-5, 166, 195, 200, 204, 208 voice (authorial) x, 7, 9, 10-16, 1719, 20-1, 30, 31-2, 52, 56, 656, 75-7, 78, 86-8, 89-90, 126-8, 152-3, 181, 182, 207


General index water imagery 121, 125-8, 135-6 Wilde, Oscar vii, 30, 31, 185

young and old 52-3, 64, 73-4, 7883, 84-6, 97-8, 115, 131, 165

Xenocles 16, 157, 162, 208 Xenophanes 17, 182