aristophanes

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Here are a few photos from UCSC’s current mainstage theater production - The Congressladies directed by Danny Scheie! It’s a brand new translation/adaptation of Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen, set in 2015 Washington, D.C. of course! Filled with song parodies, dance numbers, and a special appearance by Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan as the hags, it’s a one-of-a-kind piece of agit-prop, “sing-along” theater.

I’m pictured in the top photo as Nancy Reagan (left), with Austin Kottkamp as Babs!  In the lower two photos you can find me in the fuschia blazer and black dress.  Photo credit goes to Steve diBartolomeo.  

We run for another weekend - March 5-8, 2015 - Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 3. Come check it out if you can, tickets are here or at the door.

Too often we think of Dionysus as “jolly Bacchus,” whom the Romans in particular portrayed as the god of drinking and sexual orgies. But he was far more, a god of the dark side of humanity, of passions and the life force, companion of the Mother, a dying and rising god of the year cycle, god of the mountain rather than the city, whose followers were mainly male satyrs and female maenads (“the mad women”), who dressed in animal skins, wreathed their hair with ivy, wielded thyrsoi (poles tipped with foliage), hunted their prey on the mountainside, tore it apart, and ate the flesh raw.
—  Introduction by Ian  C. Storey
Under “Comic Festivals and Production”
For Aristophanes The Clouds
ATHENS GETS HORNY

WANT A SERIOUSLY FUCKING INTELLECTUAL GREEK PLAY ABOUT PEACE? SURE. HAVE SOME FUCKING LYSISTRATA, ONE OF THAT FUCKER ARISTOPHANES’ GEMS.

LYSISTRATA IS A BADASS ATHENIAN LADY WHO IS REALLY FUCKING BORED WITH THIS NASTY-ASS WAR ATHENS ARE HAVING WITH SPARTA. SO SHE DOES THE MOST LOGICAL THING - PERSUADES ALL HER FRIENDS NOT TO FUCK THEIR HUSBANDS. NO SEX. NONE AT ALL (NOT EVEN THE “LIONESS ON THE CHEESE-GRATER” POSITION. ARISTOPHANES, WHAT THE FUCK?). SHE TELLS HER STEREO-TYPICALLY SPARTAN FRIEND LAMPITO TO FUCK OFF BACK TO SPARTA AND MAKE THE SAME DEAL THERE. 

SOON THE OLD GRANDMAS HAVE CAPTURED THE FUCKING ACROPOLIS, WHERE ALL THE MONEY IS, SO THE MEN CAN’T FUND THE WAR ANYMORE. A BUNCH OF OLD MEN  ARRIVE TO BURN THE FUCKING GATES DOWN, BUT THE OLD WOMEN HAVE BIG POTS OF WATER. INNUENDO ENSUES.

A MAGISTRATE ARRIVES AND BITCHES ABOUT WOMEN, BUT HE AND HIS GANG ARE BEATEN OFF BY MORE OF LYSISTRATA’S HOME-GIRLS CARRYING RANDOM HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS. LYSISTRATA HAS A MASSIVE RANT TO THE MAGISTRATE ABOUT HOW WOMEN ARE JUST AS GOOD AS MEN AT GETTING SHIT DONE. THE GIRLS THEN DRESS THE MAGISTRATE UP AS A READY-TO-BAKE CORPSE AND LET HIM FUCK OFF.

THE WOMEN ARE ALL SUPER HORNY AND BEGGING FOR SEX. IT’S BEEN LIKE A WHOLE MORNING OR SOMETHING, CALM THE FUCK DOWN LADIES. LYSISTRATA TELLS THEM THAT AND THEY SHUT UP.

SOME MAN, KINESIAS (HIS NAME PRETTY MUCH MEANS “FUCKER”) , SHOWS UP, WANTING SEX WITH HIS WIFE, MYRRINHE (“PUSSY”). SHE AGREES BUT JUST TEASES THE FUCKER BY INSISTING SHE NEEDS A LONG LIST OF SOFT FURNISHINGS FIRST. THEN SHE FUCKS OFF.

FINALLY SOME HERALD FUCKER FROM SPARTA SHOWS UP WITH A MASSIVE BONER. HE WANTS PEACE (AND SEX). HE MEETS THE MAGISTRATE, WHO HAS AN EQUALLY LARGE BONER. 

THEY MAKE PEACE BECAUSE THE MEN ARE SO BUSY LOOKING AT SOME RANDOM SEXY LADY, “RECONCILIATION” WHO HAS JUST APPEARED. LYSISTRATA BITCHES ABOUT THE PATRIARCHY. FINALLY EVERYONE GETS FUCKING HAMMERED AND PRESUMABLY THEY HAVE A MASSIVE GANG-BANG.

*NODS INTELLECTUALLY*

2

I keep seeing this quote about the mythological origins of love be blogged and it is not accurate:

“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with 4 arms, 4 legs & a head with 2 faces. fearing their power Zeus spilt them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”

This was not a common belief in classical Greece. What this is referring to is a quote from Aristophanes which has been handed down to us by Plato in his work Symposium.

Plato’s Symposium is (supposedly) a written account of an actual conversation that took place before a drinking party in classical Athens. Every guest has an opportunity to speak about love, and when Aristophanes has his turn he makes a long speech about how in the beginning humans had 4 legs, 4 arms, 2 head, and so on. He also explains that there were 3 types of these beings. Ones were made of 2 men, ones that were made of 2 women, and ones that were made of 1 man and 1 woman. He then went on to say that these beings were split into separate people and once separated these halves longed to be whole again. This longing, according to Aristophanes, is called “love” and the three different types of beings is the origin of sexual orientation.

Now I’m not going to claim to know what Aristophanes was thinking when he said this, but it’s important to note that Aristophanes was a comedian and could have been mocking the opinions of the other guests. This strange idea of the origins of love was not a common view at all, and probably would have seemed bizarre even to the Athenians at the party. Aristophanes might not even have believed it himself.

That is of course assuming that Aristophanes actually said this, and it wasn’t just Plato making it up, but that’s another story all together. The point is, there are a lot of Greek myths about the origins of humans, but this was not a common belief if it was believed at all.

I’ve found out a few interesting things today:

1. Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazeusae, which pokes fun at Euripides’ treatment of women in his tragedies and has an extremely comedic cross-dressing scene, came out 5 years before Euripides’ Bacchae, which has a strikingly similar cross-dressing scene which varies greatly in tone,

2. Euripides’ Bacchae, which depicts the god Dionysus in an androgynous (and even feminine) way, was made slightly before Aristophanes’ Frogs, in which Dionysus is also depicted wearing elaborate womens’ clothing (but in an over-the-top way), and

3. Aristophanes and Euripides were parodying each others’ styles and collectively overturning the standards of tragedy and comedy by using themes common in each for the opposite effect in the other and they probably knew each other well and maybe even fought over who did the best job parodying the others’ work and oh my gosh

if you’re ever worried about how weird your fanfic is just remember that Aristophanes wrote about Aeschylus and Euripides having a rap battle in the underworld while Dionysus croaked at hell frogs

And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover’s intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell.
—  Plato, the Symposium, Aristophanes Speaks
Lopado­­temacho­­selacho­­galeo­­kranio­­leipsano­­drim­­hypo­­trimmato­­silphio­­parao­­melito­­katakechy­­meno­­kichl­­epi­­kossypho­­phatto­­perister­­alektryon­­opte­­kephallio­­kigklo­­peleio­­lagoio­­siraio­­baphe­­tragano­­pterygon

Lopado­­temacho­­selacho­­galeo­­kranio­­leipsano­­drim­­hypo­­trimmato­­silphio­­parao­­melito­­katakechy­­meno­­kichl­­epi­­kossypho­­phatto­­perister­­alektryon­­opte­­kephallio­­kigklo­­peleio­­lagoio­­siraio­­baphe­­tragano­­pterygon (translated here) was used by Aristophanes in Assemblywomen and is a fictional food composed of the following ingredients: 

  1. fish slices
  2. fish of the elasmobranchii subclass (a shark or ray)
  3. rotted dogfish or small shark’s head
  4. generally sharp-tasting dish of several ingredients grated and pounded together
  5. silphion “laserwort”, apparently a kind of giant fennel
  6. a kind of crab, shrimp, or crayfish
  7. honey poured down
  8. wrasse (or thrush)
  9. a kind of sea fish or blackbird as topping
  10. wood pigeon
  11. domestic pigeon
  12. chicken
  13. roasted head of dabchick
  14. hare, which could be a kind of bird or a kind of sea hare
  15. new wine boiled down
  16. wing and/or fin

now you know two things, a ridiculously long word and a new recipe.