Given the prominent role of language in sophistic culture, it is not surprising that language in repeatedly thematized in Aristophanes’ comedy Clouds. Throughout the play, there are scenes in which Aristophanes highlights various innovative features of word formation and morphosyntax, so as to create a sophistic ‘atmosphere’. None of these features is exclusive to Clouds, an in some way Aristophanes’ treatment of them seems paradoxical. However, this is only an apparent paradox resulting from a historical situation in which something like a sophistic Zeitgeist influenced Attic Greek as a whole deeply enough to bring along linguistic innovations. While the comic poet preferentially and consciously introduced such innovative features into a comedy depicting the sophistic world, where their growth had originated, he also started using them, unconsciously and like every speaker of Attic, in other unmarked contexts. This chapter first presents and discusses the relevant data for each phenomenon separately. It argues that all of them are symptoms of one general evolutionary trend in classical Attic Greek. It shows that Aristophanes’ impressionistic presentation of these features as ‘sophistic’ agrees well with a typological explanation of the general trend, and that the roots of the trend must be sought in the cultural revolution which Athens witnessed in the second half of the 5th century.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.