Aristophanes' Wasps

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21 Apr 2011
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03.23.11
AristophanesWasps
-Pseudo-Xenophon saw the demos as the Other
-Internal differences challenge the idea of Us ~ up to this point, we’ve seen Athens / Greece as a
unity, the Self
-Drama a way for Athenians to think through issues of self-definition
-Theatre sponsored by the rich (liturgies), subsiding prices for the demos ~ place where the rich
meets the poor
-Rituals = emphasize importance of demos and reward the contribution of the rich
-Tragedy:
oSuperhuman elites who lead great lives but meet horrible ends
oChorus = demos ~ voices of reason, famous for middling philosophy (meden agan)
Don’t be excessively rich or impoverished
-Need these elites but there’s always a danger of bringing trouble
-Comedy not allowed to criticize the demos so they attack the elites
oPoliticians often targeted >> power of demos emphasized
oMockery = political critique
oLaughter = populous power
-Comedies ~ inside jokes, most of the people made fun of was in the audience
-No mockery for the demos? ~ the politician mocked was elected / chosen by the people so the
demos indirectly mocked
-Dikasteria – one of the most central democratic institutions, the court system
oAllows demos to have kratos over their laws
-Jurors not only chosen by sortition but by double sortition (to discourage bribery), and large in
number
oSubsidized, mostly comprised of the old and the poor
-Litigants usually the elite – expensive – unless you could the speech yourself
Wasps
-Double conflict in play – solve the crisis in one, solve the other
oMass vs. Elite
oFather vs. Son
-Lovecleon addicted to jury duty (dikasteria) ~ described as an erotic attachment – ridiculous to
think it a passion
-Why addicted? – Gives him a sense of importance, feel empowered, received payment for it,
entertainment, sense of privilege
-Cleon instituted payment for jurors – why Lovecleon loves him
-Litigants begging to the jurors – subordination to the demos
oI am a good democrat. The demos has power over me.”
-Demosthenes = prominent political / military figure
-Court system instrument for elite to one up their enemy
oWay to solve elite conflict
-Demosthenes vs. Meidias ~wealthy democrat vs. wealthy tyrant
-Allow demos the power to punish those in power >> power Lovecleon addicted to
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