Restrictions on political satire

Sun Apr 5 21:26:06 2009
Pericles placed limits on comic ridicule in 440 but the restrictions were lifted by 437. But Aristophanes regularly lampoons prominent figures without any disguise at all. Jason mentions Cleon who is hilariously slandered in Babylonians, Wasps and Knights; Kleonymous is mocked in Birds, Peace and Wasps; even Socrates takes the heat in Clouds. I doubt that any playwright had the status or political power to risk ostracism but they would have be open to lawsuits as may have happened with Aristophanes.

Still, if you think about the nature of the Greek legal system where each individual must defend themself in front of a very large jury I think the playwright has a definite advantage. I doubt there are many that would want to go head-to-head in front of an audience against the biting wit and mockery of anyone with half the ability of an Aristophanes. So I suspect the way the system was constructed offered some protection and probably explains why we see so much political satire in the period.


~ by severalfourmany on April 5, 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: