Presenter: Rachel Dowe (Mid-candidature review)

In this paper, I propose to examine closely how gods are portrayed in Aristophanes’ Wealth, and how this treatment differs from wider Athenian religion. In doing so, I wish to determine what these portrayals reveal about the nature of ‘old comedy’ and its license to approach religion in a way that was not be tolerated elsewhere. In this manner, this paper will extend the hypothesis arrived at in my previous paper presented on Aristophanes’ Birds. In a manner similar to this earlier play, Wealth features a human protagonist unhappy with the current state of affairs and who consequently decides to alter the situation. Through his actions, the religious status quo is altered, and a new world is created. Aristophanes’ characters stage a revolution against the traditional rule of Zeus, an action that would have been considered impious outside the Dionysian and comedic theatre. Yet, in the upside-down worlds of Aristophanes’ plays, the gods are still recognisably Athenian. And despite Aristophanes’ comic treatment of the gods, popular religious values are never wholeheartedly abandoned.


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