objectification, degradation, and violence against women. They further parallel
modern pornography in their production in a social environment that condoned and
encouraged hostile attitudes and violent actions against women. Finally, the portrayal of these mute, nude female characters in Aristophanes' plays appears to be
more like pornographic representation than like the expression of jubilant sexuality
that many of us would wish they more truly were.
My highest appreciation first to Amy Richlin for inviting me to contribute to this volume and
for her constant encouragement. I am also grateful to the following readers for their supportive criticism on earlier drafts of this paper: Laura Stone Barnard, Jeffrey Henderson, and
The word refers most commonly to the educated and cultured "companions," both
slave and free foreigner, whose services include intellectual companionship, entertainment,
and sex. For general summations, see Pomeroy 1976; Sutton 1981: 34-35; Cantarella 1987; Keuls 1985, chaps. 6 and 7. (A note on orthography: in keeping with contemporary practice,
I prefer transliterating Greek spellings. However, when citing others, I maintain their Latinate spellings in the quotation, which occasionally leads to inconsistencies.)
Although live theater might at first seem a more appropriate parallel for ancient
comedy, scholarly literature on representations in film has treated the subject of pornography
in a way not yet begun for live theater. I also wonder if both the formal distancing and social
popularity of modern film may not better represent some of the roles ancient comedy played
in its own society.
These descriptions are adaptations of (1) Lys.1114 ff. (2) Thesm.1172 ff. ., and (3) Ach.765 ff.
For general characteristics, see Lederer 1980; Kuhn 1985; Kappeler 1986. On child
pornography, Rush 1980.
In the Frogs, the fertile reveling Dionysos is celebrated by the first chorus of frogs
(209 ff.). Next he is invoked by a chorus of mystic initiates (324 ff.). Finally, with Dionysos
as its principal character addressing the notion of drama, both tragedy and comedy, the play
unambiguously presents Dionysos in his guise as god of theater. See Reckford 1987: 403 ff.
My gratitude to Jeffrey Henderson for pointing this out.
M. Henry's contention ( 1985: 13, 24) that Mnesilochos actually sees the hetaira
Kyrene in the audience ( Thesm.97-98) is inconclusive on its own. Mnesilochos might just as
easily be stressing and ridiculing Agathon's effeminacy by addressing the tragic poet by this
well-known hetaira's name.
Recent woman-focused yet highly divergent analyses of these plays are found in Rosellini 1979; Said 1979; Zeitlin 1981; and Foley 1982.
Henderson (personal communication) finds it hard to imagine that none spoke. He
points out further that one comic actor, Pherekrates, is said to have specialized in hetaira
In the article here cited, Henderson notes the general respect accorded to older
women protagonists in these three plays.
For a more sinister analysis of the identification of the young girls with pigs, see Golden 1988.