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Humouring the masses: The Theatre Audience and the Highs and Lows of Aristophanic Comedy

Robson, James (2017). Humouring the masses: The Theatre Audience and the Highs and Lows of Aristophanic Comedy. In: Grig, Lucy ed. Popular Culture in the Ancient World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 66–87.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139871402.003
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Abstract

This chapter explores the idea of Old Comedy as popular culture, by examining (i) the size, make-up and seating arrangements of the original audience, (ii) the ways Aristophanes’ plays interact with different social groups within this audience, and (iii) Aristophanes’ distinction makes between ‘good’, sophisticated comedy and ‘bad’, phortikos (‘vulgar’) comedy. The conclusion is that Old Comedy displays both popular and elite – inclusive and exclusive – tendencies. That is, while Aristophanes acknowledges and caters for a broad audience, his comedies are nevertheless geared towards various ‘elite’ in-groups: the ‘auditorium elite’ (those who, owing to their civic roles, occupy the front rows of the theatre), the ‘social elite’ (the rich and powerful), and the ‘cultural elite’ (those who identify as sophisticated spectators).

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright Holders: 2017 Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1-107-07489-4, 978-1-107-07489-7
Keywords: Aristophanes; audience; elite; Greek theatre; Old Comedy; phortikos; poor; popular; rich; Roselli
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Cultures > Classical Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Cultures
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 50613
Depositing User: James Robson
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2017 14:00
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2019 10:37
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/50613
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