Life of Athens according to the comedies of Aristophanes - Aristophanes

Essays on literary works - 2023

Life of Athens according to the comedies of Aristophanes

The ancient Greek playwright, \\"father of comedy\\" Aristophanes (c. 446 - c. 385 BC) lived and created his works during the heyday of his native city of Athens. Athens, having emerged victorious from the war with Persia, took a leading position among the states of Ancient Greece. At this time in Athens, democracy, culture, political and social life of the city are flourishing.

However, not everything was so smooth in the life of Athens. By the end of the 5th century, a crisis of slave-owning democracy began to brew here. The most striking problems caused by this crisis are raised by Aristophanes in some of his comedies.

The story of the life of Athens in the time of Aristophanes, in my opinion, is most logical to begin with the state structure. Three times a month in Athens, a people's assembly was convened, which solved the main pressing problems of the city, adopted laws. All citizens - men could participate in the work of the meeting.

Not without reason, Praxagora and her \\"accomplices\\" (\\"Women in the National Assembly\\") were able to penetrate there only by dressing in men's clothes. Questions of a completely different plan could be discussed in the national assembly - starting with \\"saving the fatherland\\" (\\"It's terrible that they are allowed to talk about saving the fatherland of someone who cannot heal his eyes\\"), ending with completely everyday problems (\\"Still, I will reveal to you how to save the fatherland, let the fullers give all citizens thicker cloaks before the equinox. Then no one will catch a runny nose\\"). All issues in the assembly were resolved by a show of hands, and not by a shout as in Sparta (\\"How will we raise our hands when voting...\\" - think the heroines of \\"Women in the People's Assembly\\"). However, when discussing various issues, which affected the interests of various groups (some prototypes of our parties), it came not only to swearing, but even to brawls (\\"The hoe spat in the gunsmith's face, and the forger of the plows moved the spear master in the ribs\\" - this is how he writes about it Aristo fan). Specially in order to avoid various conflicts, armed guards were present at the meeting (\\"What if the archers drag you ...\\" - one of the women asks Praxagora, while they were discussing their future behavior in the meeting).Most of all, in the national assembly and in Athens, oratory was generally valued, and the speakers were very respected people (the heroines of \\"Women ...\\" choose Praxagora as their leader to a large extent for her ability \\"good, smart, skillfully \\" to speak).

Despite the fact that the assembly adopted a decision supported by the citizens of Athens, these decisions were not always successful. The heroes of \\"Women...\\" are discussing the earlier law on coppers, when copper money was accepted for use in Athens and when they were already in use, \\"The herald yelled: \\"No one should take copper coinage, silver is the only one in use\\". Imagine the loss of sellers ...Several times in his comedies, Aristophanes refers to such an impartial phenomenon as scammers. For example, for Nikarkh, the hero of \\"Aharnyan\\", denunciations are his main occupation (\\"By the way, Nikarkh goes fishing\\", Dikeopol says about him).A vivid reflection of the crisis of power in Athens was the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). At that time, as rich merchants, merchants, gunsmiths insisted on continuing the seizure of lands and, accordingly, on continuing the war with Sparta, ordinary Athenian landowners, weighed down by this war, the costs of it, the raids of the Spartans, protested against it, sought to conclude peace. This theme is raised by Aristophanes in his comedies \\"Acharians\\", \\"The World\\". The hero \\"Aharnian\\" landowner of Dikeopolis, makes peace with Sparta, only for his family, while Athens is at war. The comedy ends in complete failure for Lamach, the supporter of war, while Dikeopolis lives happily in peace.

The problem of crime did not bypass the Athenian society either. \\"And there won't be any more thieves at all?\\" - Blepir, the hero of \\"Women..\\", \\"Won't rip off capes at night?\\" is surprised. In Athens, there was a court that decided not only the issues of such crimes as theft, but also more everyday issues: \\"For example, a debtor will be unlocked from a debt\\". In such cases,\\"...the penalty must be paid to the court by the accused...\\".Religion was an integral part of the life of the Athenians. She was present practically everywhere. Prayers and sacrifices to the gods accompanied every more or less significant matter - for this there were priests, whose duty it was to see them off (\\"Hey, priest, start praying ... to the gods\\").

The most important and\\"influential\\" gods were specially built temples (\\"We won't have to build temples for birds, we won't have to carry bricks for temples...\\"). Almost all the heroes of Aristophanes' comedies periodically in their speech appeal to the gods (\\"Phoebus is a witness...\\", \\"I swear by Cyprida\\", etc.). It should be noted that men worshiped gods, and women worshiped goddesses, and this division was very bright - when one of the women was the heroine of \\"Women in the National Assembly\\" at the\\"rehearsal\\" of their speech in the national assembly, he says \\"I swear by Cyprus..\\", Praxagora answers her: \\"You swear by Cyprus, ill-fated! Suddenly you blurt the same thing at a meeting - what then?\\".It was impossible for the inhabitants of Athens to imagine their life without various holidays, and sometimes even at the most inopportune time for this. Dikeopolis, for example, when there is war all around,\\"gaining\\" peace for his family, he says:\\"And I, free from war and sorrows, will go home and celebrate Dionysia\\". Repeatedly on the pages of Aristophanes' comedies, the so-called \\"drinkers\\" are mentioned - the Greeks were quite big lovers of wine (\\"Lie down, take a healthy cup, drink sweet wine\\" - offers a chorus in the comedy \\"Aharnians\\" ). Viticulture, by the way, was one of the important occupations of the Greeks - among the heavy losses that the war with Sparta brought to the Athenians, vineyards are mentioned (\\"So she burns our hedges even more ferociously and tramples and crushes grapes more relentlessly\\").

The theater also occupied an important place in the life of an Athenian. It was not only and not so much a place for recreation and entertainment as a school of life. And the playwright in this case acted as a teacher (\\"The teacher instructs the good and the way, and the matured people are poets\\" - says Aeschylus in the comedy \\"Frogs\\").

The most talented playwrights enjoyed popular honor, respect and love (\\"The love of the people is my goal\\" - Euripides says in the same comedy).