The Comedy: From Aristophanes

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The comedy as theater genre developed in Athens in the early 4th century when Athens was locked in a war with Sparta. As such this theater form may be said to have grown out of a desire to ease the tension and depression brought by that long-drawn conflict on the Athenians.


The comedies of Aristophanes, in effect, provide a diversion from the grim business of war by treating it lightly.
In that sense, the comedies of Aristophanes are deemed relevant to the present-day world where there are shooting wars everywhere occasioned by a greater variety of causes - revolution, secession, terrorism, religious conflicts. Aristophanes' satires on war in fact find parallels in many contemporary comedies, notably Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress by George Bernard Shaw. Hailed as Shaw's bravura play, Annajanska tells the story of a troubled land whose people are tossed from one inept government rule to another. The consensus is that a revolution is called for to effect much-needed change but no suitable leader would come forward except the Grand Duchess Annajanska herself.
But there is more to Aristophanes than satirizing war. After Athens lost in the Peloponnesian war, the new rulers stifled democracy and war lost its attraction as subject for comedy plays. Public taste also changed. The playwrights then turned to social themes, in the process ridiculing politicians and offering political advice, instruction or solutions. At first Aristophanes was reluctant to adapt to this new trend but resigned to it at the end. ...
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