Tag Archives: Peloponnesian War

MERCHANT SHIPS (424-421 B.C.): ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY

Ancient Greek Merchant Ship

Ancient Greek Merchant Ship

Balladeer’s Blog presents another examination of an ancient Greek political satire. In this case it is one of those works of Aristophanes which have survived only in very fragmentary condition.

MERCHANT SHIPS  

Merchant Ships was written and publicly staged in approximately 424 B.C. to 421 B.C. according to the available data. It was another of Aristophanes’ comedies protesting the pointlessness of the Greek city-states warring among themselves instead of uniting against the encroachments of the Persian Empire.

I can’t help but view this particular comedy in light of my own country’s current plight of having the rival criminal gangs called the Democratic and Republican Parties pointlessly rob the country blind and run it into the ground while virtually ignoring external threats.

In this comedy the captains of two separate merchant ships – one from Athens and one from their foe Sparta – have grown weary of the pointless conflict and make a separate peace with each other. They and their crew members get to spend the play enjoying the food and drink from their cargoes and living out a metaphorical return to the prosperous days before the Peloponnesian War when peace reigned among the various Greek city-states.  

Franchises aka Merchant Ships

Franchises aka Merchant Ships

For a modern-day adaptation (as opposed to a straight translation) the situation could be depicted by having a Chick Fil-A restaurant right next to a Starbucks coffee shop. The managers and employees of these stereotypically Republican (Chick Fil-A) and stereotypically Democratic (Starbucks) establishments could grow tired of the political feuding, especially since both political parties often call for boycotts of the opposing business.   Continue reading

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ANCIENT GREEK COMEDIES: DIONYSALEXANDROS (C: 430’s BCE)

For this 5th installment of my posts on Ancient Greek Comedies I’ll examine Dionysalexandros by Cratinus. For my post providing background info on ancient Greek comedies click here: https://glitternight.com/2011/09/22/at-long-last-my-ancient-greek-comedy-posts-begin/

Cratinus was one of the Big 3 in Attic Old Comedy along with Aristophanes and Eupolis, both of whom were much younger than he was. I chose Dionysalexandros as the first of his comedies to examine because it is a brilliant and, from the fragmentary evidence available on all non-Aristophanic comedies, a bold and possibly unique hybrid of Attic Old Comedy and traditional Satyr Plays.   

THE PLAY

In Dionysalexandros Cratinus pushed the envelope by Continue reading

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ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY: LYSISTRATA (C: 411 BCE)

FOR BACKGROUND INFORMATION IF YOU MISSED MY FIRST POST ON ANCIENT GREEK COMEDIES CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2011/09/22/at-long-last-my-ancient-greek-comedy-posts-begin/

Lysistrata was written by the Big A himself, Aristophanes, and this comedy always makes a perfect introductory play for newcomers to Ancient Greek Comedy (henceforth AGC). Part of its accessibility to modern audiences obviously comes from the risque premise of the play, of course. For me the notion that we can understand and laugh at the same simplistic but brilliant story that Athenian audiences from 2,422 years ago laughed at and appreciated embodies the value of these ancient works. 

THE PREMISE

By 411 BCE the Peloponnesian War between Athens (and its allied city-states) and Sparta (and its allied city-states) had been raging for roughly 20 years. The war provides the backdrop for many of Aristophanes’ surviving comedies and is especially apt where Lysistrata is concerned.   Weary of the long, drawn-out conflict the women of Athens, led by the title character Lysistrata (supposedly based on Lysimache, the Priestess of Athena in Athens at the time), join forces with the women of Sparta and decide to withhold sex from the men until they agree to bring an end to the war. 

THE PLAY

Lysistrata convenes a covert meeting between the Athenian and Spartan women and, after the usual jokes about booze-hungry Greek women (“Patsy and Edina, 411 BCE” ), several ribald jokes about  Continue reading

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