The symposium and komos in Aristophanes
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This thesis looks at the symposium and komos in Aristophanes and the comic fragments from two angles, considering the use of these forms of celebration to help shape a play's plot or to depict characters, and discussing the information found in comedy on some practical sympotic matters. The thesis explores the context of relevant scenes, the activities shown, their humour, and the social status of their characters. From this conclusions are drawn about the audience's sympotic-komastic knowledge. Both events serve mainly to express happiness in a particular dramatic context, usually celebrating a protagonist's achievement and depicting its results. They also generally help to create an atmosphere of exuberance, fitting the ethos of comedy. Both celebrations can accordingly be employed for their comic value alone, particularly when festive mockery is involved, including jokes about characters or public figures. However, excessive enjoyment of festive pleasures is also presented as turning into the self-centredness of certain characters, and distortions of sympotic and komastic practice can hint at disorder. Aristophanes' plays can be divided into three groups, depending on which circumstances make the partying possible, i.e. an achievement of peace, a change of other outer circumstances, or a character's maturation and its effects. Mostly aristocratic symposia are shown, but also some low-class celebrations. Furthermore, it is striking how detailed a sympotic knowledge some low-class characters display. Aristocratic symposia in comedy focus chiefly on their luxuriousness, which helps to draw attention to differences between characters' social status or to foreground a fortunate change of events. Lower class symposia focus on communality and on the pleasurable life of a group of characters. Komoi too appear in several varieties, ranging from dignified religious events to violent perversions. They support and reinforce the functions of symposia in the plays.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosopy
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