Tag Archives: Theramenes

ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY: COTHURNUS (circa 405 B.C.)

The Ruins of the Theater of Dionysus in Athens.

The Ruins of the Theater of Dionysus in Athens.

Balladeer’s Blog takes another look at an ancient Greek comedy. This time around I’m examining Cothurnus by Philonides, a comic poet who may also have acted and produced for the Athenian stage as well. It cannot be definitively determined if the “Philonides” referred to in those capacities are all one and the same or separate figures.

THE PLAY  

Like most ancient Greek comedies Cothurnus has survived only in fragmentary form and with very few fragments at that. The title refers to a type of footwear of the time period. A cothurnus could be worn on either the left foot or the right foot because of its softness and looseness. Because of this the word “cothurnus” also became a sarcastic term for a politician who tried to position themselves on both sides of an issue, claiming victory no matter which way the political winds blew.

This is certainly another element of Old Comedy that we can still relate to 2,400 years later. Philonides was specifically using this term and this comedy to target Theramenes. Continue reading

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Filed under Ancient Greek Comedy

ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY: COTHURNUS (circa 405 B.C.)

The Ruins of the Theater of Dionysus in Athens.

The Ruins of the Theater of Dionysus in Athens.

Balladeer’s Blog takes another look at an ancient Greek comedy. This time around I’m examining Cothurnus by Philonides, a comic poet who may also have acted and produced for the Athenian stage as well. It cannot be definitively determined if the “Philonides” referred to in those capacities are all one and the same or separate figures.

THE PLAY  

Like most ancient Greek comedies Cothurnus has survived only in fragmentary form and with very few fragments at that. The title refers to a type of footwear of the time period. A cothurnus could be worn on either the left foot or the right foot because of its softness and looseness. Because of this the word “cothurnus” also became a sarcastic term for a politician who tried to position themselves on both sides of an issue, claiming victory no matter which way the political winds blew.

This is certainly another element of Old Comedy that we can still relate to 2,400 years later. Philonides was specifically using this term and this comedy to target Theramenes. To give a comprehensive look at Theramenes’ political juggling act would take too much time, suffice it to say he would flip-flop not just on specific issues but would retroactively claim to have supported whichever side won, would change political affiliations again and again and even set up other public figures to take the fall for his own failures (like arranging for six generals to be blamed and executed for his own part in the Arginusae travesty). Continue reading

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ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY: POLYZELUS

 Balladeer’s Blog has now covered 16 Attic Old Comedies, so readers have been treated to a nice assortment. Most recently I experimented with a new type of format for addressing in bulk those comedies which have survived in such fragmentary form they don’t merit a full-length review.

Instead of examining individual comedies in these posts, I will focus on those ancient Greek comedians whose entire corpus is very, very fragmentary, touching briefly on all of their known works. For background info on ancient Greek comedy plus my previous reviews click here: https://glitternight.com/ancient-greek-comedies/ 

POLYZELUS – Very little is known about this comic playwright except that his comedies came in first place an impressive four times at Lenaea festivals. His career spanned from approximately 410 BCE to 380 BCE and fragments from just five of his plays have come down to us out of an unknown total number of works.

Aside from the political satire Demos- Tyndareus his fragmentary comedies all fall under the subgenre of Attic Old Comedy known as mythological burlesques. And of those four mythological burlesques three are specifically birth comedies, in other words lampoons of the VERY odd circumstances that generally accompanied the conception and birth of the deities in Greek myths. Remember, this type of bawdy disrespect for the gods was tolerated only in the “anything goes” arena of the comedy performances.

I. DEMOS- TYNDAREUS (410 BCE) – The Tyndareus part of this political comedy’s title refers to the mythical figure who came back from the dead like Lazarus in Continue reading

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