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Title: Comic leadership and power dynamics in Aristophanes
Author: Tsoumpra, Natalia
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis investigates the concept of leadership in four comedies of Aristophanes. In the first chapter (Lysistrata) I focus on the relationship of the female leadership with religious rituals and medical pathology, and I show that the power of women lies in their important biological role and their ability to conceive and (re)produce life in the context of marriage. In chapter two (Knights) I examine the operation of leadership through the alimentary and sacrificial codes of the play. I argue that the Sausage-seller gradually manifests himself as the sacrificial cook Agorakritos who sacrifices Demos. In this way he puts an end to the politics of savage, raw consumption as they were employed by Paphlagon (and, occasionally, by Demos himself), and saves the day by inaugurating a new era of political practice. In chapter three (Birds) I focus on the political competition between the former leader of the Birds, Tereus, and the newcomer Peisetairos. I argue that Peisetairos captivates his audience through the abuse of rhetoric and sophistry, and gradually adopts more brutal ways, by perverting the ritual of hospitality, committing cannibalism, and becoming sexually aggressive. In this respect, Peisetairos is assimilated to the tragic Tereus of the Sophoclean tragedy, but finally emerges as a more successful version of both the comic and the tragic Tereus. In the fourth and last chapter (Ecclesiazusae) I discuss the women’s disruption and overturn of the normal social order by focusing on the practice of cross-dressing and on love-magic rituals: the exchange of costume between the two sexes, as well as the control of magic practices by the women over men, empower women and, by contrast, disempower and ridicule men, who are finally reduced to a state of impotence, infertility and almost death.
Supervisor: Bowie, Angus Sponsor: Greek State Scholarship Foundation ; Leventis Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Classical Greek ; Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; Comedy ; Aristophanes ; leadership ; power ; competition ; rituals ; medicine ; tragedy ; magic ; rhetoric ; sacrifice ; cannibalism ; food ; costume ; gender ; women ; sex