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14. The Play-World of Aristophanes: "Para-Athens"

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About this Lecture


Aristophanes tends to set his plays in a city that is recognisable as fifth-century Athens, with many scenes taking place in real spaces in the city. At the same time, however, the characters in Aristophanes’ plays are not surprised by the surreal or fantastical. In this module, we think about the setting of Aristophanes plays as a place which is both like and unlike the historical Athens of the late fifth century – a ‘para-Athens’, if you will!


In this course, Prof. Edith Hall (King's College, London) provides an introduction to the plays of Aristophanes, thinking in particular about the world that Aristophanes lived in and his comic output and focusing in particular on: the link between comedy and democracy, the distinctiveness of Aristophanes as compared to other comic playwrights writing at the same time, the theatrical elements of Old Comedy (music, choreography, costume, etc.), the types of comedy that one finds in the plays themselves, and - finally – the play-world of Aristophanes’ comedies.


Edith Hall is Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University. Her research focuses on ancient Greek literature and cultural history. Some of her major publications include Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy (OUP, 1989), Greek Tragedy: Suffering Under the Sun (OUP, 2010), Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind (Norton, 2014), and Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life (Penguin, 2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hall, E. (2018, August 15). Aristophanes - The Play-World of Aristophanes: "Para-Athens" [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hall, E. "Aristophanes – The Play-World of Aristophanes: "Para-Athens"." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,