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The theatrical works of 5C Athens represent a very significant advance on Homer’s Iliad. Discuss.

Uploaded by tessxoxoxo on Oct 20, 2002

It is difficult to compare the works of Aristophanes and Homer, and make a decision as to whether or not Aristophanes’ plays are more advanced than Homer’s writing, as they serve a different purpose and are told conpletely differently. Aristophanes’s stories are meant to be performed in the form of a play. Homer’s Iliad is an epic, and through his language the reader can only picture the scene. They cannot be compared as such, but we may pass judgment on whether the works of Aristophanes has advanced in quality, in relation to Homer’s Iliad. Literature reflects the circumstances of the times by providing a social and political commentary. This commentary is represented by Aristophanes, one of the best known tragic and comic poets of the fifth and fourth century B.C.

As Greek society became more sophisticated a new type of poetry arose among the Greeks. Unlike Homer, authors of this lyric poetry sang not of legendary events but of present delights and sorrows. This new note, personal and passionate, can be seen in the works of Aristophanes, in which the contrast between the new values and those of Homer's heroic age is sharply clear.

By the fifth century B.C. in Athens, two distinct forms, tragedy and comedy, had evolved. Borrowing from the old familiar legends of gods and heroes for their plots, the tragedians reinterpreted them in the light of the values and problems of their own times.

Comedies were vulgar and lively. There were no laws against libel or obscenity in Athens, so political satire became a favorite subject of the comedians. Aristophanes, the most famous comic-dramatist, brilliantly satirized Athenian democracy as a mob led by demagogues. A favorite target of his was the political leader Cleon – he based several of his plays around him. Yet he also put intelligent messages between his jokes. For example, in his play Lysistrata, the women of Greece stop the Peloponnesian War with a sex boycott, refusing to sleep with their husbands until they agree to end the fighting; thus, he could advocate peace and women's rights in the same story. By allowing such coarse humor even in difficult times, the Athenians may have shown us why Athens remained a cultural center after its best years ended; they were never afraid of the truth, and could always laugh at themselves.

Aristophanes’ Wasps is a parody on the political situation in Athens at the time...

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Uploaded by:   tessxoxoxo

Date:   10/20/2002

Category:   Ancient Greece

Length:   5 pages (1,131 words)

Views:   2321

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