9 hours ago
I was always a great fan of Aristophanes works. But Aristophanes should be something more than a highly appreciated ancient comedian; he is a remarkable source for the ancient Greek day-to-day life and Athenian 'communal' culture, as well as for the Classical era's Athenian household religious praxis. It should be, therefore, an interesting case to examine further Aristophanes' importance in reconstructing Hellenic Polytheism. Aristophanes is the brightest example for written sources that 'transmitted' to us today the ancient Athenian religious festivities, rites and rituals of genos and the city as well as the household religious practice. However, as rightfully argued by Mikalson (1987: p. 10), all readers of ancient Greek 'popular' religion should be cautious when read Aristophanes as they are when read tragedians and philosophers. Aristophanes characters are caricatures of the Athenian reality; it is the sarcasm and irony of those caricatures that makes satire an effective tool of social criticism. The question is how much can we trust Aristophanes on matters of religious praxis? Riu (1999) in the book entitled Dionysism and Comedy (p. 229) is states that "[c]omedy [...] plays on reality" and although to "expel the traditional -i.e. real- gods from the field of comedy is good and Aristophanes does so very often; to expel them from reality is not, and Aristophanes never does so". Satira wishes to present our real self through a 'distorted' reality which represents our 'worst self'. The purpose of satira, as in tragedy. is katharsis but by employing the opposite means: laughter. Satira in my view represents the 'real' truth through its distortion and critique. The characters may be caricatures though their actions are real and well-acknowledged as such from the audience. For an example we can read the Acharnians (445-260) and the story of Dicaeopolis. He is preparing for the Rural Dionysia of 427/6 (see Bowie, 1988) with his own household made Rural Dionysia:
|A satyr balances a Kantharos, |
signed drinking cup (kylix)
of the potter Kachrylion, 520/10 BC,
Antiquities Berlin / Altes Museum.
Marcus Cyron © 2007.