World-renowned classicist Edith Hall joins us to discuss the relation between entertainment and politics in ancient Athens, particularly on the comic stage. Theatrical comedy, which was invented in Athens after the city's democratic revolution, was at first highly political. Comedy plays, put on publicly in the huge outdoor theater of Dionysus, often directly attacked prominent individuals in the city (who were usually in the audience). As mentioned in episode 8, Socrates was often parodied in the theater. Politicians like Pericles and Cleon were also periodically humiliated on the comic stage. No one was safe from ridicule. Moreover, playwrights did not hesitate to use scatological humor, sexual profanity, and lots of fart jokes in their satires of anyone and everything.
Joining us to help give us a clearer view of the Athenian comic stage is Edith Hall, prolific author and professor of classics at King's College, London. We explore what it was like to see comedies in the Athenian theater and what the surviving plays can tell us about the role of political satire in a democratic society. For additional information on Greek comedy as well as our guest, visit the webpage for this episode at greecepodcast.com/12
Today marks the one year anniversary of this podcast. Thank you all so much for listening! In the spirit of Athenian comedy, we conclude today's episode on a festive note, ending with a very funny song from our friend Doug Metzger over at the Literature and History podcast. If you aren't already listening to that show, you should check it out! There's nothing else like it in the podcast world for ancient Greek literature.