By John Zumbrunnen
Aristophanic Comedy and the problem of Democratic Citizenship unearths in Aristophanes' comedies a posh comedian disposition worthy for assembly the basic problem of standard citizenship. That problem, Zumbrunnen argues, emerges from the stress among democratic impulses: a rebelliousness that resists all makes an attempt to impose any kind of institutionalized rule; and a bent towards collective motion taken via associations of renowned rule. Democracy calls for that standard voters negotiate the strain among those usually conflicting impulses. Aristophanes' comedies relaxation upon and search to instill in spectators a posh comedian disposition that holds an easy get together of uprising in stress with an appreciation for the equipped collective motion essential to lead to genuine switch. John Zumbrunnen is affiliate Professor of Political technological know-how on the college of Wisconsin, Madison, and the writer of Silence and Democracy: Athenian Politics in Thucydides' background in addition to a variety of articles and essays.
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Extra info for Aristophanic Comedy and the Challenge of Democratic Citizenship
As in other plays, a minor character—one of Trygaeus’s slaves—turns to the spectators early on to offer a bit of exposition. “I’m going to explain the plot to the children, to the teenagers, to the high and mighty gentlemen, and above all to these supermen here,” he says (50–51). And so he does. This line reflects the complex way in which Aristophanes has his characters address the audience: part mockery, part rank flattery (especially of the “supermen,” the judges seated in the front row). Such things at once confirm and yet playfully close the distance between audience and playwright.
Consider on this score the way the play works with the distance between Trygaeus himself and the Athenians in general or, more particularly, the spectators as Athenians. On the one hand, the hero of Peace, like so many Aristophanic heroes, is presented as a typical Athenian. And yet as he tells us of the play’s plot, Trygaeus’s slave suggests that his master is different: “My master’s mad,” he says, still addressing the spectators directly, “not in the way you all are, but in another, quite novel way” (52–54).
It moves beyond particularized identities and their embodiment in particularized human beings. Put differently, panhellenism in Peace appears as a sharing of the human: it links humans as a group of beings standing in a (tortured) relationship to the gods. Panhellenic flight in Lysistrata, though, is linked not to an appeal to the gods but to the sex strike. 34 Here panhellenism, in other words, puts at center stage the physicality of being human rather than the relationship of the human to that which is beyond human, something represented by the appearance of Reconciliation as a beautiful, naked young woman 38 Peaceful Voyages whose body is divided up by the combatants.