chapter  4
23 Pages

Aristophanic Archē

BySophie Mills

This chapter discusses the portrayal of Athens and the empire in comedy. It is very difficult to gauge the effect of comedy on its spectators because obviously, comedy is by definition not serious and its goal is to make people laugh. But even in comedy, the idealized Athens of the rhetoric of Athenian funeral orations can be seen, notably in the way that Athens’ right to the benefits of money from the allied cities is never questioned, and in the way it underlies Aristophanes’ comic nostalgia for the “good old days” of Marathon when Athens was at its moral and military best, before greedy demagogues like Cleon wrecked the city. This chapter will discuss attitudes to Athenian imperial power that emerge from Wasps, Acharnians, Knights, Peace and Birds.