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  • At the annual Athenian drama festival in 426 BC,

  • a comic play called The Babylonians,

  • written by a young poet named Aristophanes,

  • was awarded first prize.

  • But the play's depiction of Athens' conduct during the Peloponnesian War

  • was so controversial that afterwards,

  • a politician named Kleon took Aristophanes to court

  • for "slandering the people of Athens in the presence of foreigners."

  • Aristophanes struck back two years later with a play called The Knights.

  • In it, he openly mocked Kleon,

  • ending with Kleon's character working as a lowly sausage seller

  • outside the city gates.

  • This style of satire was a consequence

  • of the unrestricted democracy of 5th century Athens

  • and is now called "Old Comedy."

  • Aristophanes' plays, the world's earliest surviving comic dramas,

  • are stuffed full of parodies, songs, sexual jokes, and surreal fantasy.

  • They often use wild situations,

  • like a hero flying to heaven on a dung beetle,

  • or a net cast over a house to keep the owner's father trapped inside,

  • in order to subvert audience expectations.

  • And they've shaped how comedy's been written and performed ever since.

  • The word "comedy" comes from the Ancient Greek "komos," – revel,

  • and "oide," – singing,

  • and it differed from its companion art form, "tragedy" in many ways.

  • Where ancient Athenian tragedies dealt with the downfall of the high and mighty,

  • their comedies usually ended happily.

  • And where tragedy almost always borrowed stories from legend,

  • comedy addressed current events.

  • Aristophanes' comedies celebrated ordinary people and attacked the powerful.

  • His targets were arrogant politicians,

  • war-mongering generals,

  • and self-important intellectuals,

  • exactly the people who sat in the front row of the theatre,

  • where everyone could see their reactions.

  • As a result, they were referred to as komoidoumenoi:

  • "those made fun of in comedy."

  • Aristophanes' vicious and often obscene mockery

  • held these leaders to account, testing their commitment to the city.

  • One issue, in particular, inspired much of Aristophanes' work:

  • the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.

  • In Peace, written in 421 BC,

  • a middle-aged Athenian frees the embodiment of peace from a cave,

  • where she'd been exiled by profiteering politicians.

  • Then, in the aftermath of a crushing naval defeat for Athens in 411 BC,

  • Aristophanes wrote "Lysistrata."

  • In this play, the women of Athens grow sick of war

  • and go on a sex strike until their husbands make peace.

  • Other plays use similarly fantastic scenarios to skewer topical situations,

  • such as in "Clouds,"

  • where Aristophanes mocked fashionable philosophical thinking.

  • The hero Strepsiades enrolls in Socrates's new philosophical school,

  • where he learns how to prove that wrong is right

  • and that a debt is not a debt.

  • No matter how outlandish these plays get, the heroes always prevail in the end.

  • Aristophanes also became the master of the parabasis,

  • a comic technique where actors address the audience directly,

  • often praising the playwright or making topical comments and jokes.

  • For example, in "Birds,"

  • the Chorus takes the role of different birds

  • and threatens the Athenian judges that if their play doesn't win first prize,

  • they'll defecate on them as they walk around the city.

  • Perhaps the judges didn't appreciate the joke,

  • as the play came in second.

  • By exploring new ideas

  • and encouraging self-criticism in Athenian society,

  • Aristophanes not only mocked his fellow citizens,

  • but he shaped the nature of comedy itself.

  • Hailed by some scholars as the father of comedy,

  • his fingerprints are visible upon comic techniques everywhere,

  • from slapstick

  • to double acts

  • to impersonations

  • to political satire.

  • Through the praise of free speech and the celebration of ordinary heroes,

  • his plays made his audience think while they laughed.

  • And his retort to Kleon in 425 BC still resonates today:

  • “I'm a comedian, so I'll speak about justice,

  • no matter how hard it sounds to your ears.”

At the annual Athenian drama festival in 426 BC,

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アリストファネスはなぜ「喜劇の父」と呼ばれるのか?- マーク・ロビンソン (Why is Aristophanes called "The Father of Comedy"? - Mark Robinson)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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