Aristophanes and Politics

New Studies


The essays in this volume explore the many aspects of the “political” in the plays of Greek comic dramatist Aristophanes (5th century BCE), posing a variety of questions and approaching them through diverse methodological lenses. They demonstrate that “politics” as reflected in Aristophanes’ plays remains a fertile, and even urgent, area of inquiry, as political developments in our own time distinctly color the ways in which we articulate questions about classical Athens. As this volume shows, the earlier scholarship on politics in (or “and”) Aristophanes, which tended to focus on determining Aristophanes’ “actual” political views, has by now given way to approaches far more sensitive to how comic literary texts work and more attentive to the complexities of Athenian political structures and social dynamics. All the studies in this volume grapple to varying degrees with such methodological tensions, and show, that the richer and more diverse our political readings of Aristophanes can become, the less stable and consistent, as befits a comic work, they appear to be.

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Ralph M. Rosen, Ph.D. (1983), Harvard University, is Vartan Gregorian Professor of the Humanities and Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published broadly on Greek and Roman literature and culture, with a focus on ancient comedy and satire, comparative poetics, Greek intellectual history and ancient medicine.
Helene P. Foley, Ph.D. (1975), Harvard University, Claire Tow Professor of Classics at Barnard College, Columbia University has published books and articles on Greek epic and drama, on women and gender in Antiquity, and on modern performance and adaptation of Greek drama.
"Thankfully, these dozen essays transcend the tired questions (from the late 18th-century onward) of “Aristophanes’ politics” that subjected the playwright to the historical equivalent of Gallup polling. Provocative and nuanced, most of them succeed in showing, by contrast, how the dramatist embodies and enacts a public role: Aristophanes is politics." - Richard Martin, in: BMCR 2021.04.36
"This is a stimulating and thought-provoking volume for whoever wants to have a dialogue with up-to-date research on the topic." - Mariana Franco San Roman, in: The Classical Review 71.2 311–313 ''No seu todo, há que louvar a coerência do volume e a articulação entre as diversas contribuições, suscitando por vezes interessantes – e como que involuntárias – divergências, internas ao próprio conjunto. Além disso, algumas das colaborações apostam manifestamente em perspetivas e interpretações inovadoras sobretudo quando estão em causa peças concretas. A leitura deste estudo criativo e inovador sobre uma matéria que necessita, em função da própria evolução da experiência social humana, de uma constante revisão, é certamente da maior valia para todos os que se rendem ao encanto das comédias de Aristófanes.'' Maria de Fátima Silva in Cadmo 2021.

Helene P. Foley and Ralph M. Rosen

1 Prolegomena: Accessing and Understanding Aristophanic Politics
Ralph M. Rosen

2 Politics and Laughter: the Case of Aristophanes’ Knights
Robin Osborne

3 Patterns of Avoidance and Indirection in Athenian Political Satire
Jeffrey Henderson

4 Conservative and Radical: Aristophanic Comedy and Populist Debate in Democratic Athens
I. A. Ruffell

5 Aristophanes’ Political Comedies and (Bad?) Imitations
Olimpia Imperio

6 Politics in the Street: Some Citizen Encounters in Aristophanes
Stephen Halliwell

7 The Politics of Diversity: a Quantitative Analysis of Aristophanes
Carina de Klerk

8 Strong Household, Strong City: Space and Politics in Aristophanes’ Acharnians
Nina Papathanasopoulou

9 Aristophanes’ Birds as Satire on Athenian Opportunists in Thrace
Edith Hall

10 The Politics of Dissensus in Aristophanes’ Birds
Mario Telò

11 Inscribing Athenians: the Alphabetic Chorus in Aristophanes’ Babylonians and the Politics and Aesthetics of Inscription and Conscription in Fifth-Century Athens
Deborah Steiner

12 Afterword: the Boy from Cydathenaeum Some Concluding Reflections
Paul Cartledge

All students and scholars of Greek comedy, the politics and history of Classical Athens, the history of Greek drama, and the history of political satire.
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