Summary of the “World of Aristophanes”

Summary of the “World of Aristophanes”

Riders are not just horsemen: it was called in Athens a whole class – those who had enough money to keep the fighting horse. They were wealthy people, they had small estates outside the city, they lived by their income and wanted Athens to be a peaceful, closed agricultural state.

The poet Aristophanes wanted peace; That’s why he made riders a chorus of his comedy. They acted as two half-choruses and, to make it funnier, galloped on wooden toy horses. And before them the actors played a comic parody of the Athenian political life. The owner of the state is the old man. The people, decrepit, lazy and survivor of the mind, and he is cajoled and cunning by politic demagogues: whoever is more obsequious is stronger. There are four of them on the stage: two are called real

names, Niki and Demosthenes, the third one is called Kozhevnik (real name is Cleon), and the fourth is called Kolbasnik (this hero was invented by Aristophanes himself).

For peaceful agitation time was difficult. Nobody and Demosthenes (not comedic, but real Athenian generals, do not confuse this Demosthenes with the same famous orator who lived a hundred years later), just outside the city of Pylos, surrounded by a large Spartan army, but could not break and capture him. They offered to take advantage of this to conclude a profitable peace. And their opponent Cleon (he really was an artificer-tanner) demanded to finish off the enemy and continue the war until victory. Then the enemies of Cleon suggested that he himself take command – in the hope that he, who never fought, will be defeated and come down from the stage. But there was a surprise: Cleon won a victory at Pylos, led the Spartan captives to Athens, and after that from him in politics there was no longer a passage: whoever tried to argue with Cleon and convict him, they immediately reminded: “And Pylos? And Pylos?” – and had to stop. And Aristophanes undertook an unthinkable task: to ridicule this “Pylos”, that at any mention of this word the Athenians would not remember Cleon’s victory, and Aristophanov’s jokes would not

be proud, but laughed.

So, on the stage – the house of the master of the People, and in front of the house are sitting and grieving two of his servant slave, Niki and Demosthenes: they were at the master’s mercy, and now they were wiped off by a new slave, a scoundrel tanner. Two of them brewed a nice porridge in Pylos, and he snatched it from under their noses and offered them to the people. He slurps, and throws all tidbits to the tanner. What to do? Let’s see in the ancient predictions! The war is a time of anxiety, superstitious, people remembered (or invented) ancient dark prophecies in plenty and interpreted them in relation to current circumstances. While the tanner is asleep, we steal from him from under the pillow the most important prophecy! They stole; there it is written: “The worst is defeated only by the worst: the cable man will be in Athens, and the cattle-breeder is worse, but his tanner is worse, and his sausage-maker is worse.” Politician-kanatchik and politician-cattle-breeder have already visited power; now there is a tanner; we must look for a sausage maker.

A sausage-maker with a meat tray. “Are you a scientist?” – “Only with clappers.” – “What did you study?” – “Steal and deny.” – “What are you living?” – “And forward, and back, and sausages.” “Oh, our savior! Do you see this people in the theater? You want to be the ruler over them all?” Turning the Council, yelling at the congregation, drinking and wandering at public expense? One foot to stand in Asia, the other in Africa? ” – “Yes, I’m of a low kind!” – “All the better!” – “Yes, I’m almost illiterate!” “That’s good!” – “And what to do?” – “The same as with sausages: abruptly mix, harden podsalivay, polustivee sweeten, shout out loud.” – “And who will help?”

Sp; – “Horsemen!” On wooden horses, riders come on stage, chasing Cleon the tanner. “Here is your enemy: surpass him with boastfulness, and the fatherland is yours!”

The contest begins in bragging, interspersed with fights. “You’re a tanner, you’re a fraud, all your candles are rotten!” “But I’ve swallowed a whole Pylos in one gulp!” “But at first he filled the womb with all the Athenian treasury!” – “The sausage maker himself, the kettle himself, stole the scraps himself!” – “No matter how strong, no matter how sulk, I’ll still shout over it!” The choir comments, podozzhivaet, remembers the good mores of the fathers and praises citizens the best intentions of the poet Aristophanes: there were good comedians before, but one is old, the other is drunk, but this is worth listening to. So it was believed in all the old comedies.

But this is a tip, the main thing ahead. To the noise from the house with a stumbling gait comes the old People: who from the rivals loves him more? “If I do not love you, let me be strapped!” cried the tanner. “And let me be chopped into forcemeat!” cried the sausage maker. “I want your Athens power over all of Greece!” – “That you, the people, suffered in campaigns, and he made a profit from every booty!” – “Remember, people, from how many conspiracies I saved you!” – “Do not believe him, it’s him who muddied the water to catch the fish!” – “Here’s my sheepskin to warm old bones!” – “And here’s a little pillow under your ass, which you rubbed, rowing at Salamis!” – “I have for you a whole chest of good prophecies!” – “And I have a whole barn!” One by one they read these prophecies – a high-spirited set of meaningless words – and one by one they are interpreted in the most fantastic way: each for the benefit of himself and the evil of the enemy. Of course, this is much more interesting for a sausage maker. When the prophecies end, in the course are the well-known sayings – and also with the most unexpected interpretations for the rage of the day. Finally it comes to the saying: “There are, besides Pilos, Pylos, but there is still Pylos and the third!” (in Greece there were really three cities under that name), there is a bunch of untranslatable puns on the word “Pylos”. And it is ready – the goal of Aristophanes is achieved, already no one of the audience will remember this Cleons “Pylos” without gay laughter. “Here’s to you, people, from me soup!” – “And from me porridge!” – “And from me pie!” – “And from me wine!” – “And from me the roast!” – “Oh, tanner, look, you have money, you can profit!” – “Where?” The tanner rushes to seek money, the sausage maker picks up his roast and picks it up from himself. “Oh, you rascal, you bring someone else’s from yourself!” “And did not you and Pylos misappropriate after Nikias and Demosthenes?” – “It does not matter who roasted – the honor brought!” proclaims the people. The tanner is driven into the neck, the sausage maker is declared the chief adviser of the People. The choir sings all this verses to the glory of the People and to the reproach of such a debauchee, and such a coward, and such and such embezzler, all – under their own names. The sausage maker picks up his roast and picks it up from himself. “Oh, you rascal, you bring someone else’s from yourself!” “And did not you and Pylos misappropriate after Nikias and Demosthenes?” – “It does not matter who roasted – the honor brought!” proclaims the people. The tanner is driven into the neck, the sausage maker is declared the chief adviser of the People. The choir sings all this verses to the glory of the People and to the reproach of such a debauchee, and such a coward, and such and such embezzler, all – under their own names. The sausage maker picks up his roast and picks it up from himself. “Oh, you rascal, you bring someone else’s from yourself!” “And did not you and Pylos misappropriate after Nikias and Demosthenes?” – “It does not matter who roasted – the honor brought!” proclaims the people. The tanner is driven into the neck, the sausage maker is declared the chief adviser of the People. The choir sings all this verses to the glory of the People and to the reproach of such a debauchee, and such a coward, and such and such embezzler, all – under their own names.

The denouement is fabulous. There was a myth about the sorceress Medea, who threw the old man into a cauldron with potions, and the old man came out from there as a young man. That’s behind the stage and the sausage throws the old people into a boiling cauldron, and he comes out from there young and blooming. They march through the stage, and the People majestically declare how good people will live now and how the bad (and such and such, such and such, and such and such) will pay for it, and the choir is glad that old good times come back, when all lived freely, peacefully and nourishingly.


Summary of the “World of Aristophanes”