Scholtz, Andrew. 2007. Concordia discors: Eros and Dialogue in Classical Athenian Literature. Hellenic Studies Series 24. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_ScholtzA.Concordia_Discors.2007.
Chapter 3. He Loves You, He Loves You Not: Demophilic Courtship in Aristophanes’ Knights
The Demophilia Topos
that does not so much express democratic sympathies as it does a rather elaborate, and somewhat ironic, “No thank you.”  As for speakers declaring erôs for audience, dêmos, or the like (“I am your lover [erastês],” “I desire/lust for [erô] you”), that does not happen in our sources—except, of course, in Aristophanes’ Knights. 
Similar is Isocrates’ warning to an imagined assembly audience “not to pay heed…to those who claim to love the dêmos, yet bring it to utter ruin” (tois philein men ton dêmon phaskousin, 8.121), or another speaker’s to ignore “those whose words speak of love for you” (tous men phaskontas toutous tôi logôi philein humas) but whose deeds, we gather, speak otherwise.  We are, then, dealing with a variation on the familiar words-versus-deeds antithesis, with the emphasis placed, as usual, on deeds as the more truthful signifier. 
The reporting of speech, insofar as it invites others to join in scrutinizing someone else’s words, is social and ideological all at once: social in terms of the sharing involved, ideological in terms of values put into play. It is, in short, its own speech-act. Where reported speech directly concerns addressee, affect will likely play a part. And that is how our topos must have worked. Implicating listeners as victims of demophilic posturing, the topos will have targeted their sensibilities at the level of what Aristotle calls thumos, the soul’s “spirited” dimension and seat of philia. Concomitant impressions of philia betrayed will then have stirred the thumos to anger.  Particularly galling would have been the gullibility this topos at times imputes to listeners. So, for instance, in Demosthenes’ Third Olynthiac, the current generation, doting as it does on the ingratiating love-talk of corrupt politicians, fails to measure up to the dêmos of yesteryear  —precisely the Sausage-Seller’s point, as it is also the playwright’s in much of the comic business soon to be examined.
Whether or not these last kolakeuomenoi suffer from a true cognitive failure or have simply shut their eyes to their friends, the passage just quoted illustrates a dichotomy that will prove thematically important in Knights: the contrast between the genuine philos and the kolax-poseur, a rather slippery sort of contrast since, by playing the philos, the kolax blurs the difference between himself and his opposite number.  Ordinarily, the philia aped by the kolax will have been of a deferential, inferior sort (cf. Aristotle Nichomachean Ethics 1159a14–15). Yet Paphlagon incongruously boasts that Demos will find “no better friend than me” (860–861)—incongruously because this slave and flatterer par excellence uses language (philon beltion’, ‘better friend’) evoking the familiarity, mutuality, and parity usually associated with the kind of friendship meant when nowadays we say, “You and I are good friends.”  Should Paphlagon get caught playing false with this “friend” of his, he doubtless will come across as having violated the golden rule of Greek popular morality: help friends, harm enemies. Or so one assumes ancient audiences would have responded. 
At a point just before the final, decisive contest, with Demos’ lovers momentarily offstage, the Chorus notes the baffling juxtaposition of Demos’ king-like qualities with his idiotic vulnerability to flattering speeches. Demos takes issue with very little of it, countering only that his imbecility is merely a pose, one that he assumes willingly. So long as a given leader responds satisfactorily to his infantile cries (brullôn) for handouts, he will fatten the politician as if for the sacrifice (1127–1140)—that is, allow him to steal (1127, 1149) from state coffers until the inevitable corruption trial (1150). Thus Demos tolerates bad behavior from his leaders in a way that, for its cynically self-interested willingness to accommodate, at least up to a point, those who care little for his well-being, exhibits patterns of prostitution. I repeat, up to a point: Demos surely stops short of that boundless forbearance one poet attributes to the “bugger” (kinaidou) and the “whore” (pornês), kindred souls (isos…ho nous) willing to do anything for cash (Archilochus 328 West, spurious). Still, Demos gives them a run for their money. Ever ready to gratify the thievish lusts of his flatterer-lovers so long as he stands to benefit, Demos has long since, and with eyes wide open, embraced a modus operandi that he has more than once been warned against, and in suggestively sexual terms.  But, as Landfester points out, Demos shows complicity in behaviors—theft of public funds, deception of the dêmos—treated under Athenian law as offenses of the highest order.  Thus citizen Demos pursues self-interest at the expense of Demos—the dêmos personified. Whatever his gains, they inevitably translate as loss.