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13. Verbal / Linguistic

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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.


Since being awarded the Hellenic Foundation Prize for her Oxford doctorate (1988), Edith has held posts at Cambridge, Oxford, Durham and London Universities. She has published twenty books. She is Co-Founder and Consultant Director of the Archive of Performances of Greek & Roman Drama at Oxford and Chairman of the Gilbert Murray Trust. She has won funding for research from the AHRB, the AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, and has just been awarded a Humboldt Research Prize. She appears regularly on BBC Radio, and has acted as consultant to professional productions of ancient drama at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, Northern Broadsides, Theaterkombinat and other professional companies.

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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,

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