chapter  4
12 Pages

KNIGHTS

As he was presenting himself officially to the spectators for the first time, Aristophanes was particularly anxious that Knights, which he had heralded personally in his capacity as coryphaeus in Acharnians 291-300, should have been awarded first prize. The chorus invokes the goddess Victory, ‘today, O goddess, as never before must you ensure in every way that victory goes to our men’, ‘join us against our adversaries’ (Knights 589-94). The coryphaeus, moreover, having provided a history of the theatrical fortune of the old poets and lauded the prudence of the new poet, who only today after a shrewd three-year apprenticeship has decided to pilot the ship on his own account, says to the spectators: ‘since he did not leap haphazardly on to the boat, for him raise a great wave of applause, escort him to the beat of eleven oars with propitious Lenaite clamour, such that the poet may depart joyful at the outcome he desired, radiant, his forehead blazing’ (Knights 545-50). The spectators have already been requested their approval at the beginning of the prologue, lines 37-9, and towards the end will be asked to sing a paean (1318). The Knights keep extremely close to the captain, Odysseus, and celebrate the first canto of the Iliad: this is discussed in chapter 1 in regard to the dawn of comedy.