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13. Verbal / Linguistic

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About this Lecture


In this section, we think about a type of humour in Aristophanes that is sometimes hard to translate into English – humour that is based on the Greek language. Examples can range from basic animal noises (such as the calling of birds in ‘Birds’ or the croaking of frogs in ‘Frogs’ – famously rendered as brekekekex koax koax), foreign accents (such as the Scythian archer in ‘Thesmophoriazusae’), the use of extremely long or complicated words in the Greek (such as almost anything the character of Aeschylus says in ‘Frogs’, or the famously-long 174-letter word in ‘Ecclesiazusae’), or simply just obscene puns (such as the use of ‘piglet’ in ‘Acharnians’)


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 - Verbal / Linguistic [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hall, E. "Aristophanes – Verbal / Linguistic." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,