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Reproducing Athens : Menander's Comedy, Democratic Culture, and the Hellenistic City - Susan Lape

Reproducing Athens

Menander's Comedy, Democratic Culture, and the Hellenistic City

Hardcover Published: 14th December 2003
ISBN: 9780691115832
Number Of Pages: 320

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"Reproducing Athens" examines the role of romantic comedy, particularly the plays of Menander, in defending democratic culture and transnational polis culture against various threats during the initial and most fraught period of the Hellenistic Era.

Menander's romantic comedies--which focus on ordinary citizens who marry for love--are most often thought of as entertainments devoid of political content. Against the view, Susan Lape argues that Menander's comedies are explicitly political. His nationalistic comedies regularly conclude by performing the laws of democratic citizen marriage, thereby promising the generation of new citizens. His transnational comedies, on the other hand, defend polis life against the impinging Hellenistic kingdoms, either by transforming their representatives into proper citizen-husbands or by rendering them ridiculous, romantic losers who pose no real threat to citizen or city.

In elaborating the political work of romantic comedy, this book also demonstrates the importance of gender, kinship, and sexuality to the making of democratic civic ideology. Paradoxically, by championing democratic culture against various Hellenistic outsiders, comedy often resists the internal status and gender boundaries on which democratic culture was based. Comedy's ability to reproduce democratic culture in scandalous fashion exposes the logic of civic inclusion produced by the contradictions in Athens's desperately politicized gender system.

Combining careful textual analysis with an understanding of the context in which Menander wrote, "Reproducing Athens" profoundly changes the way we read his plays and deepens our understanding of Athenian democratic culture.

Industry Reviews

"As its title suggests, this book is much more than a commentary on the extant plays and fragments of the only surviving 'new comedy' playwright. Lape aims to see Menander's plays as both social commentary and political statement"--Choice "This impressive contribution to New Comedy studies... Interpret[s] Menander's comedies not so much from literary and theatrical angles but from the ways that they relate to the history--military, political and social--of Menander's time... Throughout this book Susan Lape appears in full command of the many areas relevant to her arguments."--W. Geoffrey Arnott, International Journal of the Classical Tradition

Abbreviationsp. ix
Narratives of Resistance and Romance: Democracy and Comedy in the Early Hellenistic Periodp. 1
Resilient Democracy and the Rise of Romantic Comedyp. 1
The Politics of Marriage and the Comic Marriage Plotp. 13
Comedy's Constitutive Political Silencep. 17
Constituting Citizens: The Laws of Genre and Statep. 19
Comedy's Poetics of Political Membershipp. 21
Opposites Attract: Rape,Romance,and Democratic Selectionp. 24
The Power of Love: Female Selection and Male Educationp. 30
Reproduction and Resistancep. 33
Reproducing Democracy in Oligarchic and Autocratic Athensp. 40
The Reproducibility of Athenian Democracyp. 40
The Policies and Politics of Demetrius of Phaleron: Law,Power,and Prior Restraintp. 43
Athens and the Antigonids: The Failed Foundation of Hellenistic Democracyp. 52
"Romantic" Resistance: Comedy and the Sterility of Empirep. 59
Making Citizens in Comedy and Courtp. 68
Gender and Democratic Identityp. 68
The Importance of Acting Athenianp. 72
Engendering Egalitarianismp. 74
The Politics of Seductionp. 83
Passionate Protagonists and Practical Citizensp. 91
The Comic Romance Narrative: Marrying Interest and Necessityp. 96
Staging a Biopolitics of Democratic Citizenshipp. 99
Democratic Reproduction in the Aspisp. 106
The Ethics of Democracy in Menander's Dyskolosp. 110
The Politics of Love at First Sightp. 110
The Democratic Logic of the Comic Plotp. 113
The Class Politics of Sexual Conductp. 115
Performing Egalitarianismp. 121
Ethical Identity and the Democratization of Social Relationsp. 123
Marriage Exchange and the Critique of Ideologyp. 129
Egalitarianism and Inclusionp. 134
The Politics of Sexuality in Drama and Democratic Athens: The Case of Menander's Samiap. 137
The Father-Son Romancep. 137
Forensic Theater: Staging Comedy as Courtp. 141
The Consequences of Nonconjugal Cohabitationp. 147
Demeas's Defense: Revising the Tragic Family Plotp. 150
Shame, Poverty, and Anger: The Politics of Affectp. 156
The Work of Prostitutes: The Importance of a Gender Stereotypep. 159
The Fragility of Manhoodp. 167
The Mercenary Romance: Gender and Civic Education in the Perikeiromene and Misoumenosp. 171
Socializing the Mercenary Loverp. 171
Power and Punishment: Problems in the Perikeiromenep. 173
Learning the Language of Law: The Embedded Drama of Civic Educationp. 180
Gender and International Relationsp. 183
The Return of the Repressed: Gender and the Constraints of Genrep. 186
Negotiations of Martial and Marital Values in the Misoumenosp. 188
The Conquering Captive: Genre and Gender Inversionp. 192
Civic Reciprocity and the Revision of Epic Manhoodp. 194
Ethics and Comedy's Construction of Transnational or Hellenic Citizenshipp. 198
Trials of Masculinity in Democratic Discourse and Menander's Sikyonioip. 202
The Loss of the Citizen-Soldier Idealp. 202
The Macedonian Question and Athenian Civic Identityp. 206
The Moral Manliness of the Democratic Manp. 212
Menander's Sikyonioi: The Male Recognition Plotp. 215
Ideology and Intertextualityp. 220
Moschion's Revealing Complexionp. 222
The Lastauros: An Anti-Macedonian Tradition?p. 227
Stratophanes' Embodied Biographyp. 231
Metadrama and the Illusion of Identityp. 234
Remasculinizing and Reproducing the Democratic Statep. 237
Conclusion: Inevitable Reproduction?p. 243
Bibliographyp. 255
Acknowledgmentsp. 279
Index Locorump. 281
General Indexp. 287
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691115832
ISBN-10: 0691115834
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 14th December 2003
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.2  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.6