Essay about Theme of Comedic Showmanship in Aristophanes' Plays

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Aristophanes was born presumably around 449 B.C. and died somewhere around 386 to 380 B.C. He wrote and producing his first comedy, The Banqueters, in 428 at the showpiece festival in the City of Dionysia. The following year Aristophanes won first prize with his play The Babylonians. This production however caused charges to be brought upon him by the politician Cleon for smearing the Athenian people and state. In all, Aristophanes was brought on charges twice, the second time for his play The Knights in which he again attacked the politician Cleon. In 405 Aristophanes was however publicly honored and crowned for promoting Athenian unity in his play The Frogs. Throughout his life Aristophanes wrote forty plays, eleven surviving to this …show more content…

In his defense, Dikaipolis blames not Athens for the war, but its pompous leaders and lying politicians, “It was some Athenians who started it- some Athenians, mind you, not Athens, remember that, not the City, but a bunch of good-for-nothing individuals, worthless counterfeit foreigners, bad coin through and through” (The Acharnians, line 515-519). Lamachus, a general of the army, is brought into the play and mocked by Dikaipolis for collecting coin from the war, and only going on paid missions. “Nothing’s tolerable to you, unless you’re drawing pay for it” (The Acharnians, line 619). Dikaipolis also names off other notable elected officials who receive money from various aspects of the war. Lamachus then proclaims that “I shall never stop making war on the Peloponnesians” (The Acharnians, line 620-621). Dikaipolis mocks Lamachus once more by opening a market of free trade, except with Lamachus who is denied entry. Aristophanes, who closely resembles the character of Dikaipolis, rumored to have actually played the character, is pointing out the flaws that lay within Athenian society. The City itself may have not started the war, but the great politicians and generals did so out of their own greed. Freedom of speech, denied to Dikaipolis in the beginning of the play by the Assembly represents the denied feeling of the masses towards the war, which are drowned out by the war party of Cleon and corrupt officials. The play ends with a side by side duet

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