By John Zumbrunnen
Aristophanic Comedy and the problem of Democratic Citizenship unearths in Aristophanes' comedies a posh comedian disposition priceless for assembly the basic problem of normal citizenship. That problem, Zumbrunnen argues, emerges from the strain among democratic impulses: a rebelliousness that resists all makes an attempt to impose any type of institutionalized rule; and a bent towards collective motion taken via associations of renowned rule. Democracy calls for that normal electorate negotiate the strain among those usually conflicting impulses. Aristophanes' comedies relaxation upon and search to instill in spectators a fancy comedian disposition that holds an easy get together of uprising in pressure with an appreciation for the geared up collective motion essential to result in actual swap. John Zumbrunnen is affiliate Professor of Political technology on the college of Wisconsin, Madison, and the writer of Silence and Democracy: Athenian Politics in Thucydides' historical past in addition to a variety of articles and essays.
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Additional resources for Aristophanic Comedy and the Challenge of Democratic Citizenship
The older women thus aim “to keep the money safe, and to keep [the men of Athens] from using it to finance the war” (488). Likewise, the latter part of Peace makes clear not only that money allows for war in this way but also that for many Athenians, war means profit. Trygaeus is thus delighted when an arms dealer appears and complains that peace has “destroyed my business and my livelihood” (1212–13) a fate shared in the play by a helmet maker, a spear maker, and an oracle monger. As for politics, we find in Peace and Lysistrata a claim familiar from many of Aristophanes’s plays.
The spectators are invited, encouraged, prompted to consider themselves alternately as humans, as Greeks, and as Athenians (and even, as the chorus transforms into a group of farmers, particular sorts of Athenians). The play itself offers no final privileging of any of these potential self-understandings. Again, the visions that underlie the two main explanations for the war—Trygaeus’s embrace of a broad humanity suffering the whims of the gods and, alternatively, an emphasis on the uniquely Athenian love of commotion—both are mocked in turn.
Persuasion, after all, surely sits at the center of the dominant Athenian way of understanding and practicing politics. But Lysistrata means both to introduce a new means of persuasion and to make heard new actors in the play of persuasion. Her plan is not simply to meet force with force nor only to marshal novel persuasive arguments. 19 In Rancière’s terms, she suggests a new distribution of the sensible in which, among other things, women are heard rather than silenced and in which the body and its desires and demands occupy a place of prominence instead of being denied.
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