Chapter 14. Aristophanes: Satirist versus Politician

Aristophanes and the other comic poets inherited, as part of their comic art, the iambic abuse of Archilochus and Hipponax. [1] Perhaps the hallmark of Old Comedy was political satire; it is not surprising therefore that the poet in conflict with politician is constantly in evidence in the history of Old Comedy. [2]
For example, Cratinus, known as the “emulator of Archilochus,” took Pericles as his favorite target; [3] Teleclides often attacked politicians, [4] as did the militantly satirical Hermippus, who went beyond the bounds of poetry and brought Pericles’ mistress Aspasia to court for impiety and immorality (a curious inversion of the poet being haled to court by the unsympathetic politician). [5] Plato (Comicus) wrote comedies named after the politicians he attacked: Hyperbolus, Pisander, Cleophon. [6] Eupolis attacked Pericles (in Prospaltians), Hyperbolus (in Marikas), and Alcibiades (in Baptai). [7] According to one patently unhistorical but revealing anecdote, the angry Alcibiades threw Eupolis overboard on a voyage to Sicily, drowning him. [8]
Of course, the victims of the comedians were not limited to politicians: any public figure, a philosopher, Sophist, a tragic poet, or a fellow comic poet, could offer a legitimate target for the comedian, as Aristophanes’ Clouds and Frogs show us. This leads to the theme of poet attacking poet; we have already seen comic poets involved in the legendary death of Euripides. [9]
Aristophanes’ most prominent political target is the demagogue Cleon. The comedian’s conflicts with Cleon have become the subject of ongoing debate, with some critics believing that in the ritual environment of Old Comedy, the poet’s attacks and Cleon’s responses were not taken seriously, and the poet was subjected to no serious legal danger. Other scholars argue that Aristophanes was subjected to serious legal harassment by a powerful politician, who deeply resented the poet’s insults. Some have taken a middle ground between the two positions. [10] We can do no more than survey some of the basic evidence here. In the Acharnians (377–382), Aristophanes wrote:
αὐτός τ’ ἐμαυτὸν ὑπὸ Κλέωνος ἅπαθον
ἐπίσταμαι διὰ τὴν πέρυσι κωμῳδίαν.
εἰσελκύσας γάρ μ’ ἐς τὸ βουλευτήριον
διέβαλλε καὶ ψευδῆ κατεγλώττιζέ μου
κἀκυκλοβόρει κἄπλυνεν, ὥστ’ ὀλίγου πάνυ
ἀπωλόμην μολυνοπραγμονούμενος.
And Kleon. Him I know from—shall we say?—personal experience. Last year’s comedy provoked him. To say the least. He dragged me into the Senate House, sued me, and opened the sluicegates. Slander and lies gushed from his tongue in torrents, and down the arroyo of his mind there roared a flash flood of abuse. To purge me, he purged himself—and in the offal, filth and fetor of his verbal diarrhea, I nearly smothered, mortally immersed. [11]
Later (502–503), Aristophanes writes, “A year ago, Kleon charged [diabalei] that I had slandered the State [tēn polin kakōs legō] in the presence of strangers, by presenting my play, The Babylonians, at our Great Festival of Dionysos.” [12]
Earlier in the play, he wrote of the “happy glow in my stomach when I saw Cleon fairly caught in that comedy by Aristophanes, compelled to belch up those five talents.” [13] Aristophanes’ Vita outlines a feud between the dramatist and the demagogue, in which the comic poet was evidently brought to trial three times; Aristophanes finally triumphs over Cleon when he gains his citizenship. [14]
After Acharnians, Aristophanes would attack Cleon in Knights and Wasps (1284-1291). [15] The latter passage probably reflects a second trial of Aristophanes by Cleon after the Knights: [16]
εἰσί τινες οἵ μ’ ἔλεγον ὡς καταδιηλλάγην,
ἡνίκα Κλέων μ’ ὑπετάραττεν ἐπικείμενος
†καί με κακίσταις? [???????, Briel] κακίσας, Briel] ἔκνισε· κᾆθ’ ὅτ’ ἀπεδειρόμην
οὑκτὸς ἐγέλων μέγα κεκραγότα θεώμενοι,
οὐδὲν ἄρ’ ἐμοῦ μέλον, ὅσον δὲ μόνον εἰδέναι
σκωμμάτιον εἴποτέ τι θλιβόμενος ἐκβαλῶ.
ταῦτα κατιδὼν ὑπό τι μικρὸν ἐπιθήκισα·
εἶτα νῦν ἐξηπάτησεν ἡ χάραξ τὴν ἄμπελον.
To rectify the record: Rumor has it that I, the author, have kissed and made up with Kleon. It alleges that he scratched and badgered until I buried the hatchet. A canard. Here are the facts: I found I was fighting alone. When the Tanner [Cleon] dragged me to court, I expected popular support from the folks who flocked to the case. And what did I get? Laughs. He peeled my skin off in strips; I howled—and the spectators roared. Dimly, I saw that my backing was only a comedian’s claque, political voyeurs assembled to see me prodded until I produced some tasty billingsgate. Faced with such odds, I changed my tactics—played the ape, flattered Kleon a bit. But what does he think today, now that this docile doormat is pulling the rug from under him? (trans. Parker)
Thus, Aristophanes was apparently brought to court again, and his popular backing deserted him; he was, metaphorically, flayed alive by the Tanner. He was forced to some kind of truce with Cleon, which he later rejected at the time of Wasps.
According to scholiasts, there were consistent attempts to muzzle the comic poets. In 440/439 an act against comic poets was passed, but was repealed three years later. [17] In 426, after Aristophanes attacked Cleon in The Babylonians, a bill against using names in comedy may have been passed. [18] In 415/414 Syracosius is said to have sponsored the same kind of bill. [19] In 387 it was decreed that the poets could ridicule no one by name. [20] Lefkowitz casts doubt on the historicity of these references because “there appears to be no reference to legal censorship outside commentaries on old comedy.” [21] But a bill proposed by Diopeithes in 434 against atheists and philosophers is attested outside the scholia. [22] C. Carey argues that the 440/439 law “seems certain, since the source … introduces it tangentially; it is therefore not based on conjectural attempts to make sense of the text of Aristophanes.” [23] The historicity of the Syracosius decree has been defended by A. Sommerstein. [24] It is attested by a scholiast, but the scholiast quotes the comic poet Phrynichos as his source. [25] Albin Lesky also argues that the 438 (440) and 414 (415) bills must be considered historical. [26] Richard Bauman, approaching the problem from the perspective of legal history, suggests that “Cleon’s approach to the Boule against Aristophanes [after The Babylonians] may have been preceded, then, by a psēphisma …” [27] This would support the scholiastic evidence for the 426 bill.
The debate on the historicity of these laws continues; certainly there is some relevant scholiastic evidence that is patently nonhistorical. [28] But one cannot simply discount scholiastic evidence whole cloth—it often preserves authentically ancient data. The scholiastic references that are fictitious, however, show how the mythmaking literary mind created an atmosphere of persecution and censorship for its heroes. [29]
At least one scholar has suggested that Aristophanes was exiled by Cleon, which would be a valuable datum if it could be substantiated. [30] But even without an exile, Aristophanes fits our pattern; he mocked and criticized Cleon, and was subjected to some kind of legal harassment by that powerful politician. This is reflected in the Acharnians and Wasps, and the event is probably historical. To this core we may add the scholiastic and biographical material, selecting and rejecting according to our taste.
Ralph Rosen has taken Aristophanes’ portrait of Socrates in the Clouds as a parallel to argue that Aristophanes actually had no real quarrel with Cleon; that the quarrel mentioned in the Acharnians is as unfactual as is the quarrel with Socrates; that the comic poet, in treating Cleon was merely directing traditional invective themes against a prominent figure; and that these themes had little relationship with historical fact. Rosen follows Lefkowitz in deriving the scholiastic accounts of a quarrel from misunderstood interpretation of the plays themselves.
Despite Rosen’s arguments, I am inclined to accord the quarrel and legal battles historicity. First of all, aspects of the Socrates and Clouds case seem to me to argue for it. However much the Clouds is misleading, exaggerated, offering stereotypes instead of facts, [31] Plato’s Socrates still feels that it has shaped public opinion against him in a powerful way, and feels some resentment toward it. Before the actual accusers of the Apology were earlier accusers: “more formidable” (deinoteroi, 18b, e) than the later ones; they are authentically “my dangerous accusers” (οἱ δεινοί εἰσίν μου κατήγοροι, 18c). And Socrates emphasizes that his later accusers are certainly “formidable enough” (kai toutous deinous, 18b).
They seem to be maliciously, consciously telling untruths; they “tried to fill your minds with untrue accusations against me” (κατηγόρουν ἐμοῦ μᾶλλον οὐδὲν ἀληθές, Apology 18b). These people “tried to set you against me out of envy and love of slander” (φθόνῳ καὶ διαβολῇ χρώμενοι ὑμᾶς ἀνέπειθον, 18d). Moreover, this lying is done to children who cannot easily tell truth from lies; Socrates seems to find this lying to minors especially reprehensible, and he emphasizes it by mentioning it twice (18b, c). The only person singled out among these earlier accusers is “a playwright” (18c), who is later specified as Aristophanes (19c).
The tone here is not that of genial amusement, tolerant allowance of festive high spirits and the fantasy of Clouds, with its traditional satirizing that everyone understood had no relationship with reality. On the contrary, by Socrates’ account, most of the Athenians have believed Aristophanes and those like him. The philosopher, being tried for his life, singles out Aristophanes by name and speaks of malicious “envy and slander.” Socrates blames Aristophanes and his allies more than his actual accusers.
Rosen quotes a scholiast who reports that Aristophanes did not write the Clouds out of enmity. Yet this is effectively countered by this passage from the Apology, obviously much earlier than the scholiast, and written by a close friend of Socrates. [32]
Rosen might also adduce an interesting passage in Plutarch, in which Socrates reports that he was not offended by Clouds. This deserves a close reading:
Ἀριστοφάνους δέ, ὅτε τὰς Νεφέλας ἐξέφερε, παντοίως πᾶσαν ὕβριν αὐτοῦ κατασκεδαννύντος, καί τινος τῶν παρόντων “κᾆτα τοιαῦτα κωμῳδούμενος οὐκ ἀγανακτεῖς” εἰπόντος “ὦ Σώκρατες;” “Μὰ Δί’ οὐκ ἔγωγε” ἔφησεν· “ὡς γὰρ ἐν συμποσίῳ μεγάλῳ τῷ θεάτρῳ σκώπτομαι.”
And when Aristophanes brought out Clouds and heaped all manner of abuse upon Socrates, in every possible way, one of those who had been present said to Socrates, “Are you not indignant, Socrates, that he used you as he did in the play?” “No indeed,” he replied, “when they break a jest upon me in the theatre I feel as if I were at a big party.”
On Educating Children 14 (10c)
This does portray a Socrates unruffled by Aristophanes’ play. But it also portrays a friend of Socrates who is clearly shocked at the extent of the abuse (“all manner of abuse … in every possible way”) directed at his friend. In addition, this fits into the familiar genre of Socratic stories in which he is seen as an extraordinarily wise man (it is prefaced by an explanation that wise men can control their anger, 10b). The point of the story is that one would expect Socrates to be upset, but he reacts with wisdom, self-control, and urbanity. If Old Comedy were a place where verbal attacks could not sting, the story and the characterization would be pointless.
As of yet, I have not disputed one of Rosen’s central points: that the Socrates of the Clouds is often far removed from the historical Socrates. [33] But the Apology passage shows that many Athenians accepted Aristophanes’ Socrates as true, and that Socrates (or the Platonic Socrates) seriously resented that portrait, which he characterized as lying, slanderous, and created out of envy.
In another book on Aristophanes, Malcolm Heath argues with Rosen that the Aristophanic portrait of Socrates was not meant with any animus or seriousness. He gives an interpretation of the Apology passage along these lines, and supports it with a discussion of Aristophanes in the Symposium. His interpretation of the Apology passage is problematic: he argues that the comic poet of 18d1–2 is “implicitly” distinguished from Socrates’ remote malicious accusers. [34] Yet the whole section, 18a–24b, deals with his first accusers. In 18d1–2, Socrates says that none of accusers can be named, except for a playwright, who is later specified as Aristophanes. Thus the comic playwright is emphatically part of the earlier, malicious accusers. [35] Heath further proposes that Socrates’ argument is that the earlier charges came from comedy, thus should not be taken seriously, as everyone realizes that comic portraiture has no relationship with reality. [36] Yet Plato’s point is that the earlier accusers, among whom Aristophanes is a ringleader, were very much believed; they were the more dangerous accusers. [37]
Thus, the Apology passage is far from “inconclusive.” Heath’s discussion of Symposium is more persuasive. Socrates and Aristophanes are apparently on friendly terms in the banquet, and at one point Alcibiades designates everyone there, including Aristophanes by name, among those who have “shared in the madness [manias] and ravings [bakkheias] of philosophy” (218a7–b4), [38] which in context perhaps means Socratic philosophical discussions, though this is not explicit.
This has been a traditional aporia, and has not yet been conclusively solved. As G. Daux notes, there is really no hatred of Aristophanes expressed in the Symposium. [39] Dover writes that “a satisfactory reconstruction of the history of Plato’s feelings towards the real Aristophanes continues to elude us.” [40]
One method of dealing with the conflict between Apology and Symposium in this matter is simply to pronounce that Symposium outweighs the Apology. [41] Yet, from a historical perspective, the Apology, though undoubtedly containing its idealizing mythopoeic dimensions, was written much earlier than the Symposium, and in a much more “Socratic” period of Plato’s career. [42] And its subject matter is certainly as deeply felt and serious as is the Symposium’s.
If one reads both dialogues carefully, it is possible to see the Symposium in the light of Apology, instead of vice versa. It is significant that, as Dover points out, Aristophanes’ tale in the Symposium differs from all the other banquet offerings in celebrating a concrete love. Again, alone of all the offerings, it receives a direct refutation from Diotima/Socrates/Plato. [43] It was composed “by Plato, as a target for Diotima’s fire.” [44] Aristophanes—brilliant and amusing as he is—is the jarring note in the banquet devoted to spiritual love. And in this perspective, Symposium begins to make dramatic sense as an agōn like the Republic or Gorgias, where a most dangerous opponent of Socrates speaks last or near to the last, only to be vanquished by the master.
This interpretation of Aristophanes as a vanquished opponent of Socrates is confirmed by the end of the dialogue, where Socrates argues with Aristophanes and Agathon through the night. In an elegant double motif, defining Socrates’ superhuman nature by his sleeplessness, Socrates clinches his argument at dawn, as the two dramatists begin to nod. “First Aristophanes fell off to sleep, and then Agathon, as day was breaking” (223d). [45] Socrates conquers in argument and in sleeplessness. Thus, Symposium can be read as a critique of Aristophanes, subtle, urbane, but serious. If its tone is different from the Apology passage (the dramatic situations are very different), thematically it is not entirely dissimilar. [46]
Thus, even if Aristophanes’ portrait of Cleon is entirely untrue—which is not certain—the politician might have resented it as much as the Platonic Socrates did his own portrait, or more, for as a politician and militarist, he was likely to have been a much less self-controlled and genial man than was Socrates. And a politician’s natural tool for retaliation would have been the law court.
Furthermore, as William Arrowsmith notes, Aristophanes’ portrait of Cleon was much more savage than was his portrait of Socrates. [47] Thus it is likely that Cleon responded to Aristophanes more violently than did Socrates, first with verbal abuse, then perhaps with legal harassment. Since he was much more powerful than Socrates, this is not at all unlikely.
A second major argument used by Rosen is the implication that since Aristophanes used traditional elements in his attacks on Cleon (which Rosen shows skillfully), they had no basis in fact, were meant with no animus on Aristophanes’ part, and were not resented by Cleon. Aside from the question of how deeply Aristophanes felt about his pacificism—for his attack on Cleon was to a certain extent an attack on militarism—it seems that this dichotomy between traditional themes and sincere involvement with the people and issues of his time is too extreme. A poet can use traditional poetic techniques, even formulae, for his own idiosyncratic, deeply-felt purposes, and to communicate with his own milieu. [48]
Thus, the feud between Cleon and Aristophanes (and the prosecutions against the comic dramatist) were probably historical. According to Cedric Whitman, Knights is “a monument, and a vigorous one, to the personal animosity of Aristophanes,” the only play of that playwright where he abandons himself “fully to the luxury of sheer hate.” [49]
Many aspects of Aristophanes’ art continue archaic blame traditions. [50] The curse is found in Aristophanes’ arsenal of verbal weapons. [51] The animal fable of Aesop has at least a relative in the animal choruses of comedy, one of the most archaic aspects of the genre, and still prominent in Aristophanes. [52] Animal imagery, common in the iambic satirical tradition, was also frequent in comedy. [53] The poetical agōn, so important in the vitae of Homer, Hesiod, Simonides, Aeschylus, and others, is the centerpiece of Aristophanes’ Frogs, where Aeschylus and Euripides compete in the underworld.
Aristophanes is also a satirist who makes a pharmakos of his target, for he, like Hipponax, is a primary source for the word pharmakos, which he uses as a strong term of abuse. [54] Though the poet has the power of creating pharmakoi, this power makes him the victim, by harassment in the courts, of the political leader, Cleon.
Stoning is occasionally found in Aristophanes’ plays. [55] The Acharnians’ Dicaeopolis is made, as it were, a righteous pharmakos when he concludes a private peace with the Spartans and is stoned by the reactionary war party of Athens (285–344). Just before the stoners arrive, Dicaeopolis had been organizing his family in a Dionysiac procession, including phallus in basket and phallic song to Phales (260–279). Connecting this scene with Aristotle Poetics 1449a, Lowell Edmunds describes Dicaeopolis as a “proto-poet.” [56] As Martha Nussbaum notes, commenting on this passage, “The danger that the audience will not tolerate the poet’s freedom, or hear his truths, is a recurrent theme in Aristophanic Comedy.” [57] Thus, in the Acharnians, we have a proto-poet practicing phallic ritual stoned for his pacifist political views. In Sutton’s view, Dicaeopolis and Aristophanes are closely connected. [58]
So Aristophanes, the dominant comic dramatist of his day, repeatedly attacked the dominant politician of his day, Cleon; Cleon apparently brought him to trial more than once in retaliation. One scholar suggests that his punishment was exile. But the punishment was only temporary, and Aristophanes eventually survived the law courts and continued his satirical attacks. In his work, Aristophanes becomes a key source for knowledge of the pharmakos. Ironically, he also was involved in intra-poetical, intra-intellectual satirical attacks, and helped make a victim of Euripides, our previous subject, and Socrates, our next, and culminating (for Greece), subject. [59]


[ back ] 1. Poetics 1449a10; Semus ad Athenaeus 14.622c–d; West 1974:36–37; Rosen 1988c:4; Giangrande 1963), we may remember the importance of Archilochus’ possible advocacy of some kind of phallic cult in his cult legend and its close parallels. The tragedians also wrote satyr plays, which apparently always had satirical, obscene aspects,cf.Seaford1984.
[ back ] 2. For Aristophanes’ blame, see Harriott 1985:46–67, who discusses both praise and blame in the comic poet. Also Kraus 1985; Halliwell 1984a:86–87 and Halliwell 1984b (who would argue for a lack of “personal authorial commitment” in Aristophanes’ satire; I tend to disagree, see below); Carey 1994; Degani 1993. For Old Comedy apart from Aristophanes, Harvey and Wilkins 2000.
[ back ] 3. See relevant fragments from Nemesis; Dionysalexandros; Chirones, and especially Thracian Women in PCG. Cf. Plutarch Pericles 13, 3; Lesky 1966:419–420; Storey 1998n1.
[ back ] 4. See fragments 44, 45 PCG, attacks on Nicias and Pericles.
[ back ] 5. On the Aspasia story, Plutarch, Pericles 32; Gilula 2000:76. See Bread-Sellers, which attacked Hyperbolus, scholia on Aristophanes, Clouds 551.
[ back ] 6. See PCG 7, fragments s.v. those titles; cf. Lesky 1966:421–422.
[ back ] 7. PCG 5.448, test. 260; scholia on Aristophanes Frogs 569 = PCG 5.400; Aristophanes Clouds 551; for Alcibiades, see following note.
[ back ] 8. 151 Tzetzes, Prooemium I (Prolegomena) line 87; Koster and Wilson 1975 1a:27, also in PCG 5.332, test. iv.; see other testimonia, ibid. Eratosthenes, FGH 241 F 19 = Cicero Epistles to Atticus 6.1.18 = Eupolis test. 3, PCG 5.295.
[ back ] 9. See Luppe 2000, for a conflict between prominent comic poets.
[ back ] 10. See Gelzer 1970, especially 1398–1399; Rosen 1988c:63 (summarizing the position that the attack is historically accurate), 61n4 (taking the position that insult in Old Comedy was ritualistic and was not taken seriously, thus holding that the attack on Cleon is not historical). Halliwell (2004:139–140) holds to the same general perspective, arguing that the cultic setting of aischrology in Old Comedy prevented significant retaliation against poets. Arguing for real animus, bitter resentment, and dangerous legal harassment in Old Comedy are Henderson 1990 (p. 304: “Kleon’s subsequent lawsuit—no doubt another graphē—looks like a serious response to serious abuse rather than merely an oversensitive reaction to harmless ridicule”); Atkinson 1992; Sommerstein 2004. This is only a selective list that will introduce the reader to the issue.
[ back ] 11. Translation by Parker. Cf. MacDowell 1971:299; Foley 1996; Olson 2002:173–174.
[ back ] 12. οὐ γάρ με νῦν γε διαβαλεῖ Κλέων ὅτι / ξένων παρόντων τὴν πόλιν κακῶς λέγω. For a more literal translation, cf. Henderson’s: “Besides, Cleon shall not be able to accuse me of attacking Athens before strangers.” See Olson 2002:201–202. He concludes, “there was a real (and perhaps continuing) dispute between the two men somehow sparked by [Kleon’s reaction to Babylonians]” (Olson 2002:xxx).
[ back ] 13. Acharnians 6: ἐγᾦδ’ ἐφ’ ᾧ γε τὸ κέαρ ηὐφράνθην ἰδών, / τοῖς πέντε ταλάντοις οἷς Κλέων ἐξήμεσεν. For the talents, see Carawan 1990.
[ back ] 14. The information in 502–503 is echoed by scholia on Aristophanes, Acharnians 503, 378; Koster and Wilson 1975 1b:59, 70; and Vita 20 (see following note). See also Acharnians 300, 659. For the Vita, see Koster and Wilson 1975 1a:133–150; Cantarella 1949 I:135–144; translation in Lefkowitz 1981:169–172.
[ back ] 15. Cf. Edmunds 1987:51–57; Körte 1921:1233–1236; Gelzer 1970:1398–1399.
[ back ] 16. Sommerstein 1980:32–33, 1983:233–234; Storey 1995. However, this, like every detail of Aristophanes’ conflict with Cleon, is disputed, see Storey 1995:8.
[ back ] 17. Scholia on Acharnians 67; Koster and Wilson 1975 1b:17.
[ back ] 18. Scholia on Aristides Orations 3.8 (Eupolis Baptae test. 3, PCG). See Halliwell 1991a:55; Lefkowitz 1981:106.
[ back ] 19. Scholia on Birds 1297, citing a fragment of Phrynichos. Koster and Wilson 1991 2.3:192.
[ back ] 20. Cf. Vita 51–52; Platonius On Comedy, lines 23–29, Koster and Wilson 1975 1a:4. Also, Plutarch On the Glory of the Athenians 5 (348b–c); “Xenophon” The Constitution of the Athenians 2.18, commentary by Frisch 1942:277–281.
[ back ] 21. Lefkowitz 1981:106.
[ back ] 22. Plutarch Pericles 32. Cf. Rudhardt 1960:92; Finley 1973:91; Nilsson 1972:121–122. Dover rejects this (1976:39–40), cf. Derenne 1930:223, 237f. But Dover’s argument that Plutarch should be rejected because one would have expected his data to appear somewhere else is not convincing: history and textual criticism are full of examples of important data surviving in only one line of tradition. See Bauman’s convincing argument in favor of the historicity of the psēphisma (1990:39).
[ back ] 23. Carey 1994:71.
[ back ] 24. Sommerstein 1986, but cf. Carey 1994:71 and Sommerstein 2004.
[ back ] 25. Scholia on Birds 1297 = fragment 27 of Phrynichos (active as playwright 429–405 BC). Though there are many ways to interpret this passage (and certainly the scholiast might have misunderstood Phrynichos), one cannot categorically reject Phrynichos as a reliable source.
[ back ] 26. Lesky 1966:420.
[ back ] 27. Bauman 1990:55.
[ back ] 28. See Halliwell 1991:55 and passim.
[ back ] 29. See further Edmunds 1987:60; Halliwell 1984a:86–87; Atkinson 1992; Storey 1998; Halliwell 2004; Sommerstein 2004.
[ back ] 30. Leeuwen 1888, cf. Whitman 1964:307n2; Steffen 1954.
[ back ] 31. See Dover 1972:118–119; Erbse 1954.
[ back ] 32. Scholia on Clouds 96. When one assesses these late sources in conjunction with the Apology, perhaps the earliest Platonic writing, probably written not too long after Socrates’ death, the Apology has much greater weight. One might bring up the Socratic question, certainly; it is not proven that Socrates spoke these words. But they are certainly Platonic, and are possibly somewhat Socratic, as the dialogue was written during Plato’s most “Socratic” period. Brickhouse and Smith 1989 argue for the general historical reliability of the Apology. I would agree that the framework of the Apology is historical, while Plato’s literary allusiveness gives mythological resonance to Socrates’ trial. See chapter 15 below.
[ back ] 33. For those who see at least some elements of the historic Socrates in Clouds, see Nussbaum 1980:43–47 (summary of the problem); Schmid 1948:222; Stark 1953:77–89; Edmunds 1987:60n9; Edmunds 1985b:209–230.
[ back ] 34. Heath 1987:9.
[ back ] 35. Brickhouse and Smith also include Aristophanes among those early accusers. Clouds is “the very paradigm of the ‘first’ accusations” (1989:63–64).
[ back ] 36. Heath 1987:10.
[ back ] 37. Cf. Edmunds 1987:60.
[ back ] 38. After Alcibiades mentions that he has been bitten in the heart or mind by Socrates’ philosophy, he names everyone present, including Aristophanes: πάντες γὰρ κεκοινωνήκατε τῆς φιλοσόφου μανίας τε καὶ βακχείας …
[ back ] 39. Daux 1942.
[ back ] 40. Dover 1966:50.
[ back ] 41. As does e.g. Murray 1933:143.
[ back ] 42. Dover, in fact, suggests that the elaborate frame Plato gives the Symposium reflects its mythical, fictional nature (1980:9).
[ back ] 43. Symposium 205d.10–e.7; 212c.4–6, cf. Dover 1966:48.
[ back ] 44. Dover 1966:50.
[ back ] 45. καὶ πρότερον μὲν καταδαρθεῖν τὸν Ἀριστοφάνη, ἤδη δὲ ἡμέρας γιγνομένης τὸν Ἀγάθωνα.
[ back ] 46. See Sommerstein 2004:158.
[ back ] 47. Arrowsmith, Clouds 1969:6.
[ back ] 48. Cf. Cicero’s use of tradition invective topoi, which nevertheless brought about his exiles and death. See below, chapter 22.
[ back ] 49. Whitman 1964:80–81. Edmunds points out a background of “deme-centered animosities” in the feud (1987:61).
[ back ] 50. For Old Comedy’s background in lyric iambus, see Henderson 1975:18–24.
[ back ] 51. Acharnians 1150–1160, cf. Rosen 1988c:72; Watson 1991:140–141, 238.
[ back ] 52. Cf. Lesky 1966:237, 418; Rothwell 1995.
[ back ] 53. See Lilja 1979; cf. Moulton, “The Lyric of Insult and Abuse,” in Moulton 1981:18–47. See above, chapter 9 (Alcaeus); Rosen 1988c:32–33.
[ back ] 54. See Knights 1402–1405; Frogs 730–733; fragment 655KA; Gebhard 1926: test. 1–12 Athens (pp. 11–15); Harrison 1922:97; Rosen 1988c:21–24.
[ back ] 55. E.g. Acharnians 280–295; 319; 341–346; 331. Cf. chapter 1; Barkan 1927:47.
[ back ] 56. Edmunds 1980:6. We remember the association of Archilochus’ legendary crime (phallic singing?) with phallic cult, see above, chapter 3. Cf. app. A, below.
[ back ] 57. Nussbaum 1980:61. See Acharnians 318, Frogs 384–394; Clouds 518.
[ back ] 58. Sutton 1988.
[ back ] 59. We find the following themes in the Aristophanes biographical traditions and plays: 1a, crime of hero (by Cleon’s accusation). 7, trial of poet, unjustly accused; 10a, exile (possible); 11a, stoning (as theme in poetry); 22, satirical themes; 22d, artist satirizing artist; 22e, curse as poetic theme; 24, conflict with political leaders.