Flights of Fancy: Tragic Myth and Comic Logos

I. A. Ruffell

in Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old Comedy

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587216
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731297 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs

Flights of Fancy: Tragic Myth and Comic Logos

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This chapter uses Aristophanes' Peace as a basis for an investigation of the relationship between parody and the impossible worlds of Old Comedy. Trygaios' flight to heaven on a dung-beetle, parodying Euripides' Bellerophontes, is analysed formally in terms analogous to those used for jokes and metatheatre. Other aspects of parody are also considered, including competition for cultural authority and the potential for comparison and satire. Incongruity and humour are shown to be central, and comparisons made with intertextuality with epic and satyr play. Through parody and explicit metaliterary comments, Peace is shown to be making an argument about the limitations and conventions of tragic realism and tragic authority and, conversely, celebrating the scope and potential of comic anti-realism. The tactics used in Peace place it in the middle of an ongoing argument with tragedy that can be seen in similar terms in Akharnians and Thesmophoriazousai.

Keywords: parody; authority; satire; incongruity; tragedy; epic; satyr play; realism; convention; Peace; Akharnians; Thesmophoriazousai

Chapter.  22442 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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