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Agora ∞ Greek Group Readings > Aristophanes' FROGS

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message 1: by Betty (last edited Oct 27, 2010 10:13AM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 3660 comments The characters in Frogs* include Greek dramatists and mythological gods with whom we are already familiar to some degree and some of whom we find unrecognizable: Euripides, Aeschylus, Dionysos, Herakles, Xanthias (offspring of Pan? of Bellerophon?), Pluton (Hades), Charon, Aiakos (Aiakos=Aeacus=Aeacos=Eäcus=Αἰακός, the last written in Greek), and Plathane (Isocrate's wife and Hippias' widow).

To enjoy the comedy is sufficient. Points for discussion,
☛Old Comedy of Artistophanes

*frogs=Βάτραχοι=batrachoi as in Aristophanous Batrachoi

message 2: by Betty (last edited Oct 27, 2010 01:55PM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 3660 comments Four Plays: Lysistrata/The Frogs/A Parliament of Women/Plutus

In this edition a reader finds that a number of ancient Greek plays have been lost. Aristophanes mentions a number of these along with lines from them in the story. The Signet Classic edition (Roche) calls attention to these dramatic gems. The helpful footnotes as well as the perusal of different translations aid in understanding the play's context.

message 3: by Betty (last edited Nov 16, 2010 12:19PM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 3660 comments Menander's "The Grouch" (Menander : The Grouch, Desperately Seeking Justice, Closely Cropped Locks, the Girl from Samos, the Shield) represents the New Comedy of the fourth-century BCE, a century after the political satires of Aristophanes' Old Comedy. J. Rufus Fears calls "The Grouch" the first sitcom in a lecture from Teaching Company: Life Lessons from the Great Books DVD.

message 4: by Betty (last edited Nov 16, 2010 12:22PM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 3660 comments Notes from the Introduction

'Aristophanes and Old Comedy'
An illustrious Athenian comic playwright among contemporaries, Aristophanes has eleven surviving complete plays representative of Old Attic Comedy (OAC flourished 486-388 BC), and is mentioned in Plato's The Symposium.
The genres of comedy, tragedy, and satyr-drama were produced for competition at festivals (Greater Dionysia and Lenaea) -- among these, comedy being the most unconventional.

Citizens ruled in democratic Athens.
The Choregus (Choregi, plural), an elected official, sponsored choruses; while the public funded other production costs.
Old Comedy originated in Komos (=Band of irreverent, imaginative costumed revelers).
The Aristophanic hero solves an intractable political problem for the city; minority views are presented and powerful leaders are criticized in his plays, but the topics of democracy and state religion are off-limits for denunciation.


'Frogs and Its Time'
Took first prize at the Lenaea 405 BC, according to Dicaearchus.
Characters: Dionysus, Heracles his half-brother, Xanthius, the latter two traveling to the underworld to fetch Euripides; Pluto asks Dionysus to decide between Aeschylus and Euripides for the underworld's Chair of Tragedy.
Themes: Both the decline of democratic Athens after the Peloponesian War and of tragedy after Euripides' death; great persons are brought back. " of the hallmarks of Aristophanic comedy is to encourage us to question the status quo"(18).

Parabasis = (External Link also )

message 5: by Betty (last edited Nov 16, 2010 07:38PM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 3660 comments Scenes I - III, lines 1-673

Scene I: Prologue
Xanthius and Dionysus come onstage, discussing the jokes by which to amuse the audience and spouting funny homonyms on 'bear' and 'load' on their visit to Heracles, who remarks on Dionysus' ridiculous getup, not recognizing its resemblance to one he himself had worn on the twelfth labor. The brothers Dionysus and Heracles, sons of Zeus, argue about the genius of dead playwrights, Dionysus lamenting the loss of "something adventurous" Euripides displayed and Heracles complimenting Euripides' successors, then continue their disagreement about the best road to the underworld, Hades, until Heracles provides directions for a lake-crossing. On the way to the underworld to bring back Euripides, Dionysus, still disguised as Heracles, cannot persuade a fresh Corpse, he meets along the way, to carry his luggage but does convince Charon to make the ghostly ferry crossing, rowed to the the rhythms of the Frogs' Chorus.

Contest with Frogs
"Brekekekex koax koax!". After unsuccessfully silencing the noisy frogs, Dionysus competitively bellows along with them.

Scene II: Arrival in the Underworld
The slave Xanthius, denied access to the ferry crossing, has walked through the mud and darkness around the lake, rejoining swaggeringly brave Dionysus on the other side, pointing out to the frightened god a shape-shifter Empusa and a Chorus of Eleusinian initiates.

Parados of the Chorus
Unaware of Dionysus' presence, the Chorus invokes Iacchus the "cult name for young Dionysus", its Leader enumerating unacceptable participants to the mysteries -- politicians, troublemakers, tax collectors, heathens, traitors, thieves, and the Chorus returning to invoke Athena and Demeter and to mock its prominent but unworthy Greek leaders.
Parados =
Eleusinian Mysteries =

Scene III: Pluto's Palace
At Pluto's palace, Aeacus the doorman remembers Heracles (really Dionysus) as the thief of the dog Cerberus, threatening with ghastly tortures the quaking god, who exchanges his costume for that of the brave servant Xanthius. A palace maid recognizes Heracles (now Xanthius), inviting him to a feast with "dancing girls", an opportunity that causes Dionysus to take back Heracles' costume from Xanthius to the god's remorse because Aeacus promptly identifies him as the thief of "sixteen loaves" of bread as well as of stew, garlic, fish, and cheese. When his accuser leaves to get help, Dionysus foists the costume back onto Xanthius, who must protest innocence to Aeacus and convince Aeacus to torture instead the servant (Dionysus), who promptly reveals himself to be the true god and the other the servant. Uncertain Aeacus, working from the premise of a god's immunity to pain, gives up trying to get a holler out of either one of the two and sends them off to Pluto.

message 6: by Betty (last edited Nov 16, 2010 12:27PM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 3660 comments Scene III Parabasis of the Chorus, line 674 - Contest: Prologues, line 1250

Scene III Parabasis of the Chorus
Cleophon has been murdered "by anti-democratic forces."

The Chorus Leader enumerates actions the city's leaders should enact:
* "the citizens should be made equal"
* "no one in the city should be disenfranchised"

The Chorus mocks individuals and civic practices.

Scene IV Slave Talk
Pluto's Slave & Xanthias share ideas about how a slave gets pleasure in retaliating against his master until a disturbance in the Pluto's palace changes the topic to Aeschylus and Euripides's rivalry for the Chair of Tragedy in the underworld.

Contest: Preliminaries
Dionysus attempts to persuade Aescyhulus' to tone down his hostile remarks to Euripides

Contest: Opening Rituals
Aeschylus prays appropriately to Demeter; while Euripides insists on petitioning new, "unofficial" deities such as:
Sky, my nourisher, and Pivot of Tongue,
and Smarts, and Nostrils keen to sniff things out,
may I correct refute any arguments I grab!

Contest: General Issues
Euripides then Aeschylus complain about the other's tragedies and defend their own in light of tragedy's purpose to "turn people into better members of their community" and of poetry's craft in a debate before judgmental Dionysus.

Contest: Prologues
During a respite in the debate between Aeschylus and Euripides, the Chorus urges them to continue the intellectual fisticuffs before the appreciative, knowledgeable audience. Euripides criticizes first, haranguing Aeschylus about the prologue's language in the The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides, then trying to evade Aeschylus' threat "to demolish those prologues of yours with an oil bottle" by reciting some of his own prologues as evidence against Aeschylus' claim.

message 7: by Betty (last edited Nov 16, 2010 07:09PM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 3660 comments Contest: Lyrics, line 1251 -- Exodus of the Chorus, line 1533

Contest: Lyrics
Euripides', reciting several lines from his "choral lyrics" and interjecting the phrase "Aiee the strike!", causes Dionysus, the contest's judge, to assert that Aeschylus therefore has several strikes already against him in the contest for the Chair of Tragedy in the underworld, but the latter takes his turn, reciting both a choral lyric and an aria in Euripides' style with the aid of Euripides' Muse.

Contest: Weighing of Verses
Dionysus accepts Aeschylus' outlandish suggestion to weigh the lines spoken into the weight scale pans by the two contending tragedians. Aeschylus, whose "river" depresses the pan more than Euripides' "wings" does, takes the first round, and the second and third rounds also go in his favor on account of heavy "death" and double "chariots" and "corpses" in contrast to Euripides' "persuasion" and "iron".

Contest: Politics
Dionysus now poses two questions about the "salvation" of Athens to the dramatists.

Contest: Verdict
The verdict goes to Aeschylus, Dionysus justifying it by a quote from Euripides' own play "Aeolus".

Bon Voyage to Aeschylus
Pluto, desiring the winner to leave the underworld at least temporarily, entertains Dionysus and Aeschylus before they sail back to the living. The Chorus then affirms that the man of "intelligence" and "good sense" is more necessary to the city and everyone it than the "pretentious", talkative man who "indulges in hairsplitting twaddle".

Exodus of the Chorus
The Chorus urges the gods to provide a safe journey to the travelers and to grant some great ideas for Athens' peace.

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