Plautus vs Aristophanes: Who had the greatest variety of technique?

In your opinion, which of the authors you have studied uses the greatest variety of comic techniques?

In your answer you must include discussion of all three authors.

Rephrase: Who uses a variety of VVST more?

Argument: The great variety of technique is employed by Aristophanes because he had to appeal to many tastes to gain the most votes to win the contest. Even within Aristophanes’ plays, Clouds arguably has less variety of technique. However, compared to Plautus’ plays, Plautus has less of a variety of comic technique as this Roman audience had different demands and expectations, that were fulfilled by less variety of comic techniques.

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Costume/props:

  • Leather phallus, plus body suits just as as a standard for Lysistrata: plus stripping: men and women in turn
  • Brothers Menaechmus revolves around one comic technique of Menaechmus looking the same
  • Counter argument: Use of the gown to distinguish between Sosicles and Menaechmus
  • Clouds: Right dressed as Athenian aristocrat, then strips to reveal cross dressing: a lot more variety

Situational humour:

  • Both BM and SS rely on mistaken identity and confusion/deception
    • Tricking of Sceledrus to “unsee” what he saw
    • Sosicles claims a free lunch by using Menaechmus’ identity at Erotiums- repeated throughout: with Wife and Wife’s Father and even at end with Sosicles and Menaechmus: little variety: same joke
  • Both Clouds and Lysistrata employ bathos
    • Strepsiades needs a crap after chorus beautiful lyrical song
    • Also debases gnats biology to an arsehole like a trumpet
    • Kinesias using mock tragic language before finishing with falling onto a cock horse rather than death
  • Clouds and Lysistrata both also play on the fact that men are playing women…
    • Clouds with the chorus of painted faces: men pretending to be women pretending to be Clouds.
  • ARGUMENT: Lysistrata/Clouds looks to more variety to induce laughter, whilst BM and SS relies on same technique

Political Satire

  • Loads of Lysistrata and Clouds
    • Attack on audience voting Cleon back in
    • Attacking the likes of Cleonymus the shield dropper in Clouds…and Cleisthenes in Lysistrata
    • Lysistrata wool working metaphor attacking democratic factionalism
  • Little, if any in Plautus
    • Menaechmus makes a speech criticising patron and client relationships and his obligations…

Stagecraft:

  • Clouds uses Mechane and Ekkeklema, but Lysistrata doesn’t and Plautus doesn’t
  • These are used to shatter the dramatic illusion
  • Shows that even within Aristophanes there is sometimes a lack of variety

Verbal:

  • Many more innuendo’s in Lysistrata, perhaps less so in Clouds
  • Clouds revolves much more around sophistic language and mocking it
  • No scatological humour in Plautus: yet louds in Clouds and Lysistrata
    • Strepsiades says how he pooed himself…he creates the sound of a stomach
    • Old woman threatens to hit one of the men so hard that he will shit all over the place

 

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