By Cedric H. Whitman

Usually one is chary of claiming the sort of factor a few severe paintings, besides the fact that distinctive the writer; the extra one seems to be down the lengthy standpoint of literary reviews, the extra one feels how a lot of what we're susceptible to consider because the shattering discovery of our personal new release is basically the typical perception of the a long time, another way phrased to slot the style. yet Professor Whitman deals anything unattempted, as far as i do know, from antiquity to the current day, and that's a whole and systematic research of Aristophanes, now not as a resource for past due fifth-century background and antiquities, nor as a record within the historical past of drama, nor as a natural spring of Attic vocabulary and syntax, yet as a poet; a comic book poet.

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2o Ί Ι ' COMIC HEROISM A s noted earlier, it is frequently said that Aristophanes' conservative agrarian beliefs are embodied in a recurrent character, the old countryman, and that this character is always essentially the same; and it was further observed that there is reason to doubt both the conservatism and the consistent sameness of the character. It cannot be denied that in many of the plays there occurs an elderly Athenian, of simple habits and sometimes simple mind, drawn very much to the pattern of the small farmer, and that this character seems to be a stable point in the teeming and variegated world which the poet paints.

And besides the irony and the ponería, there is a kind of Aristophanic absurdity in the situation of the infant thief versus the mighty Apollo, an absurdity which is carried to a climax, also Aristophanic in its way, when Apollo picks up Hermes bodily, and is promptly soiled. The Hymn ends with a tactical, rather than an absolute victory for Hermes. Apollo is allowed to recover his dignity, Hermes gives him the lyre, and the two become fast friends. Old Comedy is prone to less civilized solutions, of course, for hilarity dies down when everyone modifies his pretensions, exchanges apologies, and becomes good.

All these questions have been ably treated; the matter which calls for attention is the purely literary one. On the other hand, it is impossible to discuss a comedian without all trace of comic theory, or to criticize a literary figure without all reference to his historical context. To assert that fantasy, rather than satire, is the heart of Aristophanes' work requires that one speak of the workings and significance of fantasy; and to deny that Aristophanes was the firm conservative which he has been made out demands that something be said on the positive side about what his relationship was to the world around him.

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Aristophanes and the Comic Hero by Cedric H. Whitman
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