Saturday, October 12, 2019

Aristophanes and Homoeroticism: Admiration or Scorn? :: Aristophanes Homoeroticism Papers

In reading the comedies of Aristophanes, modern readers are able to catch a rich glimpse of the gender norms and expectations of his time. Visions of power-hungry, crafty women and bumbling, foolish men pervade his plays and reveal ancient Greek views and stereotypes regarding male and female roles. One of the more complicated concepts to grasp, however, is Aristophanes’ true sentiment regarding homosexual love and practice. The aim of this paper is to compare Aristophanes’ presentation of homoeroticism in The Women at the Thesmophoria to that of his speech in Plato’s Symposium and attempt to clarify the playwright’s stance on the matter. In these two works, Aristophanes offers a mix of mocking and approving sentiments oh homosexual men and the practice of homosexuality itself. As he is a comedian, Aristophanes immerses his characters in satire in order to gain laughs from the audience; by looking carefully at the texts, we can see he does not actually see homoeroticism as an institution to be derided and ridiculed. To begin, an examination of The Women at the Thesmophoria can provide valuable insights into the prevailing culture’s notion of homosexual relations. Just before Euripides and the Kinsman reached Agathon’s house, they discussed the poet briefly: Euripides: There is an Agathon †¦ Kinsman: You mean the suntanned one, strong guy? Euripides: No, a different one. You’ve never seen him? Kinsman: The one with the full beard? Euripides: You’ve never seen him? Kinsman: By Zeus, never, as far as I can recall. Euripides: Well, you must have fucked him, though you might not know it (38-45). This exchange, which foreshadowed the entrance of Agathon, provides us with a clear idea of how a man ought to look: tan, strong, and bearded. The joke here is that Agathon was by no means a masculine man, as proven by Euripides’ last comment, which solidifies Agathon’s effeminacy by stating he prefers a passive sexual position. While the statement may apparently show disdain for homosexual acts in general, it actually emphasizes the lack of manliness only in taking the passive homosexual position. Aristophanes and Homoeroticism: Admiration or Scorn? :: Aristophanes Homoeroticism Papers In reading the comedies of Aristophanes, modern readers are able to catch a rich glimpse of the gender norms and expectations of his time. Visions of power-hungry, crafty women and bumbling, foolish men pervade his plays and reveal ancient Greek views and stereotypes regarding male and female roles. One of the more complicated concepts to grasp, however, is Aristophanes’ true sentiment regarding homosexual love and practice. The aim of this paper is to compare Aristophanes’ presentation of homoeroticism in The Women at the Thesmophoria to that of his speech in Plato’s Symposium and attempt to clarify the playwright’s stance on the matter. In these two works, Aristophanes offers a mix of mocking and approving sentiments oh homosexual men and the practice of homosexuality itself. As he is a comedian, Aristophanes immerses his characters in satire in order to gain laughs from the audience; by looking carefully at the texts, we can see he does not actually see homoeroticism as an institution to be derided and ridiculed. To begin, an examination of The Women at the Thesmophoria can provide valuable insights into the prevailing culture’s notion of homosexual relations. Just before Euripides and the Kinsman reached Agathon’s house, they discussed the poet briefly: Euripides: There is an Agathon †¦ Kinsman: You mean the suntanned one, strong guy? Euripides: No, a different one. You’ve never seen him? Kinsman: The one with the full beard? Euripides: You’ve never seen him? Kinsman: By Zeus, never, as far as I can recall. Euripides: Well, you must have fucked him, though you might not know it (38-45). This exchange, which foreshadowed the entrance of Agathon, provides us with a clear idea of how a man ought to look: tan, strong, and bearded. The joke here is that Agathon was by no means a masculine man, as proven by Euripides’ last comment, which solidifies Agathon’s effeminacy by stating he prefers a passive sexual position. While the statement may apparently show disdain for homosexual acts in general, it actually emphasizes the lack of manliness only in taking the passive homosexual position.

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