Ancient Attic Comedy. Aristophanes - Aristophanes

Essays on literary works - 2023

Ancient Attic Comedy. Aristophanes

Ancient Attic comedy, like tragedy, was born from the ritual games of the feasts of Dionysus. Analyzing the issue of the origin and development of comedy, students need to understand the original meaning of the word “comedy”, to highlight, as suggested in the textbook, ed. A.A. Takho-Godi (p.164), the constituent elements from which comedy arises, consider the elements of the structure of comedy, paying special attention to those parts that differ from the structure of tragedy (agon, parabasa, anapaests, ode, anthode, epirrema, antiepyrrema). Characteristic features of the ancient Attic comedy as a genre are political mockery aimed at certain people and concerning topical contemporary issues, fabulousness and fantasy.

Aristophanes, the largest representative of the ancient Attic comedy, "the father of comedy" in the words of F. Engels. The work of Aristophanes is usually divided into three stages:

 Stage I (covers 427-421): “Aharnians” - 425, “Horsemen” - 424, “Clouds” - 423, “Wasps”, “Peace” - 421 BC. e.;

 Stage II (414 - 405 BC): "Birds" - 414, "Women at the feast of Thesmophoria" and "Lysistrata" were written in 411, "Frogs" - 405 BC. e.

 The final III period includes only two works: “Women in the National Assembly” - 392 and “Plutos” - 388 BC.

In the comedies of Aristophanes, the diverse and complex political life of Athens in the second half of the 5th century was reflected. BC. Aristophanes in his work appears as an admirer of the state order during the growth of Athenian democracy.

As I.M. Tronsky (p. 158), Aristophanes has a negative attitude towards the so-called radical-democratic group, which pursued an aggressive foreign policy and supported parasitic elements. In political matters, Aristophanes approached the moderate-democratic grouping and in the ideological struggle he occupied the same moderate-conservative position. In this regard, Aristophanes in his work gives an important place to the theme of the struggle against the Peloponnesian War, which is devoted to the comedies written in different periods of his activity: “Aharnians”, “Peace”, “Lysistrata” (one of them students should read in full and subject to careful analysis ).

It is necessary to have a good idea of the reasons and the reason that served as the beginning of the Peloponnesian War (431 - 404), due to the economic and political rivalry between Athens and Sparta and the cities grouped around them. Analyzing the course and events of this war, it should be noted that its beginning and the first years turned out to be difficult and unsuccessful for Athens. The Spartans invaded Athenian territory several times. However, the Athenians succeeded in 405 BC. capture the city of Pylos in the south of the Peloponnese. The first ten years of the war, which did not give victory and advantage to any of the warring parties, ended in the establishment in 421 BC. the so-called Nikiev peace, which restored the situation that existed before the war. However, it turned out to be fragile, as it met with protest from the allies of Sparta, Corinth and among the democratic population of Athens.

In 411, the aristocrats staged a coup, but the oligarchy did not last long. Although democratic order was restored, the strength of Athenian democracy was broken.

The comedies of Aristophanes are sensitive to the political events of modern life. The most acute politically is the comedy of Aristophanes "The Horsemen", directed against the influential leader of the radical party Cleon. Students should show with specific examples from the text of the comedy why Aristophanes criticizes the policies of the radical democratic party, what satirical techniques the author uses, criticizing the activities of the highest bodies of Athenian democracy, the interests of which group he represents, and finally, what is the structure and compositional construction of this comedy. In a number of works, Aristophanes touches on issues of philosophy, literature, and social education; Aristophanes' negative attitude towards the sophists is reflected here. Aristophanes' misunderstanding of the philosophy of the sophists led him to attack the work of Euripides. The comedies “Clouds”, “Women at the Feast of Thesmophoria” (this was the name of the great Attic holiday celebrated only by free-born women in honor of Thesmophoros, i.e. the legislators of Demeter and her daughter Persephone), “Frogs” are devoted to these issues. One of these comedies must be read in full, however, when analyzing other works, this topic should also not be overlooked.

The issue of typification of real historical figures in the comedies of Aristophanes (Cleon, Socrates, Nicias, Demosthenes) remains unresolved, it is noteworthy that they have little in common with historical prototypes. Comedies should also be singled out, in which a parody of a political utopia is presented in a fabulous or other form (“Birds”, “Women in the National Assembly”, “Plutos”). In addition to educational literature (I.M. Tronsky. P.156-165, S.I. Radtsig. P.318-348, A.A. Takho-Godi. P.168-177, V.G. Borukhovich. S. 219-234), students need to get acquainted with the book by V.V. Yarkho and K.P. Polonskaya (Yarkho V.N., Polonskaya K.P. Antique comedy. M .: Publishing House of Moscow State University, 1979.)

To conclude a general review of Aristophanes' work, it is necessary to draw a conclusion about his role in the world literary process and an analysis of excerpts from those comedies that are not included in the mandatory minimum, but are presented in anthologies.