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A: Aristophanes Pf: 424 bc, Athens Tr: 1820 G: Greek com. in verse S: The household of Demos in Athens, 5th c. bc C: 5 m, extras, chorus (m)In the home of Demos all is not well: the slaves are tyrannized by the master's favourite, a ‘Paphlagonian’, a coarse and deceitful slave. Two of the slaves discover an oracle that foretells that the Paphlagonian will be overthrown by a sausage-seller. At that very moment a Sausage-Seller arrives, and the slaves inform him that he is destined to rule over Athens. Reluctant to confront the Paphlagonian, the Sausage-Seller is however emboldened by the arrival of a chorus of eager Knights. The Paphlagonian goes off to the Council to denounce the Sausage-Seller's conspiracy to overthrow him. We soon learn that the Paphlagonian has been outwitted. In desperation, the Paphlagonian calls Demos out of his house to choose between them, and in a lengthy contest is once again defeated, most notably when the Sausage-Seller offers him a box with nothing in it, while the Paphlagonian reveals a box containing tasty morsels. Demos recognizes now how the Paphlagonian slave has cheated him and stolen from him. Rejuvenated, Demos resumes power in his own household, banishes the Paphlagonian, and undertakes to behave more responsibly in the future.

A: Aristophanes Pf: 424 bc, Athens Tr: 1820 G: Greek com. in verse S: The household of Demos in Athens, 5th c. bc C: 5 m, extras, chorus (m)

In the second of Aristophanes' extant comedies, he delivers a bold and thinly disguised attack on the Athenian demagogue and general Cleon. The transparent allegory of the piece shows Demos' ( = ‘the people's’) house in chaos because of the deceitfulness and bullying of Cleon. His overthrow by an ordinary passer-by, supported by the aristocratic officers of the Athenian cavalry, heralds a new age for Athens, with the people in control once more. It is said that Aristophanes himself was the only person brave enough to perform the role of the dictator; it is certain at least that he produced the play himself. While the play may seem inextricably linked with Athenian politics, and some of its references are undeniably obscure, its picture of a self-serving tyrant remains disturbingly relevant.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Aristophanes (c. 448—380 bc) Greek comic dramatist


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