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The Theatrical Cast of AthensInteractions between Ancient Greek Drama and Society$
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Edith Hall

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199298891

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298891.001.0001

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The Scythian Archer in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae

The Scythian Archer in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae

(p.225) 8 The Scythian Archer in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae
The Theatrical Cast of Athens


Oxford University Press

In ancient Greece, pretending to belong to a different ethnic group was a significant source of humour. In Thesmophoriazusae the tritagonist, who had earlier in the play appeared in such histrionically extravagant roles as Agathon and Cleisthenes, faced the most demanding ‘ethnic’ role in the extant Greek comic repertoire: for the last quarter of the play he needed to pretend to be not only unfree and untutored in theatre, but an import into Athens from the far-flung northern shore of the Black Sea. The role of the Scythian archer is one of the most remarkable in the drama of the period. This chapter argues that Thesmophoriazusae is a comic response to a very particular type of role in tragedy — the villainous barbarian monarch in Euripides' innovative escape tragedies. For many decades, indeed until the middle of the 1980s, the only aspect of this role to attract any significant attention from scholars was the element of linguistic caricature.

Keywords:   Thesmophoriazusae, Scythian archer, Athenian tragedy, Athenian drama, ethnic difference

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