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THE ARISTOPHANIC SLAPSTICK (NUB. 537-44)*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2015

R. Drew Griffith
Affiliation:
Queen's University at Kingston, Canada
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Extract

Revising Clouds for publication some five years after its third-place showing in the City Dionysia of 423 b.c., Aristophanes retooled the first parabasis (lines 510–626) to praise the play's propriety, omitting as it did distasteful matter and gratuitous buffoonery, which—along with the judges’ crassness—accounted, he says, for its failure.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 2015 

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Footnotes

*

This note owes much to an anonymous reader for CQ.

References

1 A.B. Lloyd, Herodotus: Book II (Leiden, 1976), 2.220-1, on 2.48.

2 M. Revermann, Comic Business: Theatricality, Dramatic Technique, and Performance Contexts in Aristophanic Comedy (Oxford, 2006), 325.

3 E. Fraenkel, Aeschylus Agamemnon (Oxford, 1950), 3.641, on 1371; O. Taplin, The Stagecraft of Aeschylus (Oxford, 1977), 28.

4 K.J. Dover, Aristophanic Comedy (Oxford, 1972), 10.

5 At Lys. 357 the semi-chorus of old men threaten to beat the women, though their weapons are olive-logs (ξύλον) they have brought to smoke them out of the acropolis (pace LSJ s.v. ξύλον II.2, who translate the word in this context as ‘cudgel, club’). Philocleon threatens to whip Bdelycleon (ἦ μὴν ἐγώ σε τήμερον σκύτη βλέπειν ποήσω, Vesp. 643).

6 S.D. Olson, Aristophanes  Peace (Oxford, 1998), 282, on 1119–21 does not speculate on the nature of the ξύλον. In Frogs 605–73 Xanthias, disguised as Heracles, fights Aeacus (cf. μάχει; 607—no weapon mentioned), and Aeacus whips (cf. μαστιγωτέος, 633) Dionysus and Xanthias to see who feels pain, and so is mortal. Heracles’ club (47, 495), which might have been the perfect instrument of torture, seems to have been set aside at 627.

7 M. Bieber, The History of the Greek and Roman Theater (Princeton, 1961), 140–1 with figs. 512 and 513; O. Taplin, Comic Angels (Oxford, 1993), 48–53; and Csapo, E., ‘A note on the Würzburg Bell-Crater H5697 (“Telephus travestitus”)’, Phoenix 40 (1986), 379–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The ¼ statistic is from Hughes, A., ‘The costumes of Old and Middle Comedy’, BICS 49 (2006), 3968 Google Scholar, at 46, and Performing Greek Comedy (Cambridge, 2012), 183. ( Hughes, , ‘Comedy in Paestan vase painting,OJA 22 [2003], 281301 Google Scholar does not consider the βακτηρία.)

8 These may be identical to the walking sticks of some old characters in tragedy, described as βάκτρα or σκῆπτρα and sometimes raised in anger (Aesch. Ag. 74–5; Soph. OT 456, a prophecy; Eur. Andr. 588, HF 108–9, Ion 743 and IA 311). For their role in comic costume, see L.M. Stone, Costume in Aristophanic Comedy (Salem, NH, 1977), 246–7.

9 Of course, whips (Vesp. 643, Pax 741–7, Ran. 633, cited above) require no additional sound effects.

10 We may doubt that Euelpides followed his suggestion; N. Dunbar, Aristophanes Birds (Oxford, 1995), 153, on 54 has no comment.

11 Bieber (n. 7), 82, and often.  Archaeological evidence for the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens of the Classical period has been irreparably obscured by the Lycurgan reconstruction c. 329 b.c. (see H.R. Goette, ‘Archaeological appendix’, to E. Csapo, ‘The men who built the theatres: theatropolai, theatronai and arkhitektones’, in P. Wilson [ed.], The Greek Theatre and Festivals: Documentary Studies [Oxford, 2007], 116–21), so one cannot confidently read back the acoustic excellence of—say—the theatre at Epidaurus to that at Athens in the Classical period.

12 P. Brown, ‘Scenes at the door in Aristophanic comedy’, in M. Revermann and P. Wilson (edd.), Performance, Iconography, Reception. Studies in Honour of Oliver Taplin (Oxford, 2008), 349–73.

13 Dunbar (n. 10), 751, on 1720–65.

14 batocio < Lt. battuere + bacculum (= βακτήριον, dim. of βακτηρία).  P. Hartnoll, The Oxford Companion to the Theatre (Oxford, 19834), 772.

15 K.J. Dover, Aristophanes Clouds (Oxford, 1968), 169, on ἀφανίζων (Nub. 541), writes: ‘“concealing” by noisy slapstick the poor quality of the verbal humour’.

16 W.S. Allen, Vox Graeca: The Pronunciation of Classical Greek (Cambridge, 1968), 55.

17 F. ĺz, H.C. Hony and A.D. Alderson, The Oxford Turkish Dictionary (Oxford and New York, 1992), 100.

18 Italians call the clapperboard that marks scene changes in films and operates on the identical principle ciac.

19 A. Fava, The Comic Masks in the Commedia dell'Arte (Evanston, IL, 2007), 15–17.

20 Many examples in M. Gordon, Lazzi: The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell'Arte (New York, 1983), 30 fig. vii and passim. Those sticks, moreover, are not always straight; see W.K. Zewadski, ‘The crooked staff motif’, in W.K. Zewadski (ed.), Ancient Greek Vases from South Italy in Tampa Bay Collections (Supplement 3) (Tampa, 1995), 90–117.

21 See D.B. Thompson, ‘The house of Simon the shoemaker,’ Archaeology 13 (1960), 234–40, at 239, whose illustrations include a black-figure Attic amphora by the Plousios Painter (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts 01.8035), a black-figure Attic pelike from Rhodes by the Nikoxenos Painter or the Eucharides Painter (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum 563) and the tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix (London, British Museum).

22 C. van Driel-Murray, ‘Tanning and leather’, in J.P. Oleson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World (Oxford, 2008), 483–95, at 492 with fig. 19.3, quoting Mould, Q., ‘Man pinches leather?’, Archaeological Leather Group Newsletter 18.1 (2003)Google Scholar. Aristophanes preferred cobbling to foul-smelling (cf. Eq. 892; Pax 753) tanning: Strepsiades threatens to tan Creditor A's ample belly (Nub. 1237–8), and various characters lampoon Cleon as the βυρσοπώλης/-δέψης Παφλαγών  (Ach. 300–1; Eq. 136, 315-21; Nub. 581; Pax 269-70, 648, 669, 753).

23 J. Taillardat, Les Images d'Aristophane: Études de langue et de style (Paris, 1965), 347–8, §§ 593-6.

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