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Bad Language In Aristophanes

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Chapter Summary

Tragedy and comedy have been described as the ?twin offspring of the Athenian theatre, and they were non-identical twins?. In his Nicomachean Ethics (1128a22?25), written incidentally before the advent of Menander and ?New? Comedy, Aristotle distinguishes ?older? comedies (palaioi) from ?modern? ones (kainoi) by the nature of their humor. Aristophanes generally uses milder terms to describe making fun of his comic targets. More common is Aristophanes? use of σκ¬μμαor σκ πτειν for the comedian?s activity of saying ?bad things? about his victims. This chapter examines the actual words that a comic poet puts in the mouths of his characters saying ?bad things? both about each other and about his targets outside the drama. Aristotle identifies aiskhrologia as the principal means of humor of Old Comedy, but the adjective αEσ/ρς itself is far less common in Old Comedy (about three dozen instances) than either κακς or π_νηρς.

Keywords: aiskhrologia; Aristophanes; Aristotle; Athenian; Nicomachean Ethics ; Old Comedy



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