GK 383 • Aristophanes
1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Aristophanes is our sole extant representative of Attic Old Comedy, a genre which rivaled fifth-century Tragedy in its vitality, productivity, and social importance. Nevertheless, there is little scholarly consensus about his literary significance. Was Aristophanes a conservative traditionalist, championing the Marathon-generation and its values, or was he the "subtle-speaking Euripidaristophanizer" caricatured by Cratinus? Was he the critic of Socrates, or the critic of Socrates' critics? Was he the friend of the common man, or of the young aristocrats featured as the chorus of the Knights? Was he a friend of women's emancipation, or a purveyor of "sexist jokes" who should be banished from college reading lists because of his insensitivity? Was he a popular entertainer, or a high-brow reformer of the comic art? In attempting to address such questions, this course will concentrate on the analysis and discussion of Aristophanes' Acharnians, Clouds, Wasps, and Frogs. Other important issues to be discussed will include the nature and social function of Comedy as a genre, the structure and evolution of generic forms such as the prologue, epirrhematic agon, and parabasis, comic attitudes toward contemporary politics, philosophy, and literature, the nature of literary parody and comic intertextuality, and the reasons for the decline of Old Comedy at the end of the fifth-century. The course is designed with sufficient flexibility to accommodate graduate students of all levels. The final grade will be based on a final research project (50%), class discussion, including oral reports (25%), periodic translation quizzes (25%).
S. D. Olson, Aristophanes: Acharnians (Oxford) ISBN 0-19-927586-6 K. Dover, Aristophanes: Clouds (Oxford) ISBN 0-19-814395-8 D. M. MacDowell, Aristophanes: Wasps (Oxford) ISBN 0-19-814465-2 K. Dover, Aristophanes: Frogs (Oxford) ISBN 0-19-815005-9