Dikaiopolis in Acharnians, the sausage seller in Knights, Trygaios in Peace, Lysistrata in Lysistrata, and Praxagora in Ekklesiazousai.
For a concise survey of current interpretative approaches, see
MacDowell 1995, 221-28; for
the nineteenth century, see
So, e.g., Murray 1933, 135-63, and
Whitman 1964, 167-99.
Representative examples of allegorical readings are
Katz 1976, and
Vickers 1989; for the workings of true allegory in Aristophanes, see esp.
For the comic utopia, see esp.
Zimmermann 1983, and Konstan above.
"Ambitious" is an important qualification, since Aristophanes entirely spares from ridicule
"quiet" and nonambitious members of the elite (for whom see
For alazoneia, see
For the "Old Oligarch" (writing in the mid 420s), Old Comedy's ridicule of the ambitious
elite even helped to enforce democratic rule ([Xen.]
Ath. 2.18); Plato was later to express a similar
view of drama's institutional role in catering to and reinforcing democratic polity. In general see Henderson 1990, 1993.
As opposed to Aristophanic villains, who typically represent particular individuals or
For the politically ambitious class as a small citizen elite, see in general Carter 1986;
Sinclair 1988, 33-34, 136-61;
For this phenomenon, denounced particularly in
Aristophanes' Knights, see
Connor 1971; Rhodes 1981, 345.
Like Kleon's typical victim, the rich man who tries to live a quiet life in the Chersonnese
The matrons of the three women's plays play a similar role.
Peisetairos'vision, but also his vocabulary, is distinctly elitist, even oligarchic: 1539-40; cf. Zimmermann 1988, 351.
Zannini Quirini 1987 claims both, reading Nephelokokkugia as an anti-Athens whose
absurdity and sinister politics make the actual Athens look good; for critiques see
Sommerstein 1989 and
See the remarks of
Reinhardt 1975, 62, for whom irony is a tragic and Socratic mode.
In our time we are used to the idea that Thucydides expected readers to sympathize with
the Melians, but actually there is nothing in the text to refute the claim of
Perry 1937, 427, that "in
the Melian Dialogue . . . the folly of the Melians rather than the cruelty of the Athenians is the chief
subject of contemplation," nor is there any more reason to take Peisetairos' reference as sinister
humor than there is to frown at the starving Megarian jokes in Acharnians.
Meiggs 1972, 392-96.
Nilsson 1948, 77-78.
Dunbar 1995, 12-15. The idea (already ancient:
Hofmann 1976, 79-90) that Birds is a
parody particularly of the myth of the Gigantomachy, with the birds equaling the impious Giants
Zannini Quirini 1987, 47-87), is too narrow a straitjacket for the play; in addition, the birds
resemble the Titans more than the Giants, and the myth's major motif--the battle itself--has no
analogue in the play, where the gods are diplomatically outmaneuvered. For a balanced review of
the mythical sources, see
Dunbar 1995, 7-9.
As for example
Hubbard 1991, 158-92, and above.
Athenian irreligiosity versus Peloponnesian piety is one of the major contrasts in Thucydides.