An alternative democracy and an alternative to democracy in Aristophanic comedy *
This chapter argues that Aristophanes' plays present, at least by implication, a twofold model of an alternative political system. One is an alternative democracy, envisaged as a practical possibility, in which the Demos escapes from the influence of self-interested demagogues. It will abolish or drastically curtail public pay, except for the army and navy; it will rigorously repress sykophancy; it will reject leaders of low social status in favour of the well-born and well-educated; and it will seek peace with Sparta—all in reality key planks of an anti-democratic programme. The other is a fantasy alternative to democracy, in which the comic hero(ine) becomes an absolute monarch—but this never involves a male Athenian lording it over other male Athenians.
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