The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Attic Comedy
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The pervasive and unrestrained use of obscenity has long been acknowledged as a major feature of fifth-century Attic Comedy; no other Western art form relies so heavily on the sexual and scatological dimensions of language. This acclaimed book, now in a new edition, offers both a comprehensive discussion of the dynamics of Greek obscenity and a detailed commentary on the terminology itself.
After contrasting the peculiar characteristics of the Greek notion of obscenity to modern-day ideas, Henderson discusses obscenity's role in the development of Attic Comedy, its historical origins, varieties, and dramatic function. His analysis of obscene terminology sheds new light on Greek culture, and his discussion of Greek homosexuality offers a refreshing corrective to the idealized Platonic view. He also looks in detail at the part obscenity plays in each of Aristophanes' eleven surviving plays. The latter part of the book identifies all the obscene terminology found in the extant examples of Attic Comedy, both complete plays and fragments. Although these terminological entries are arranged in numbered paragraphs resembling a glossary, they can also be read as independent essays on the various aspects of comic obscenity. Terms are explained as they occur in each individual context and in relation to typologically similar terminology. With newly corrected and updated philological material, this second edition of Maculate Muse will serve as an invaluable reference work for the study of Greek drama.
Expressions, 154 Nautical Terminology, 161 Agricultural Terminology, 166 Metaphors from Sport, 169 Contents xii Hitting and Piercing, 170 Miscellaneous, 173 Burning, 177 and K , 178 Kissing, 181 Feliatio, 183 Cunnilingus, 185 6. Scatological Humor, 187 Xezein, 187 Scatophagy and Related Humor, 192 Urination, 194 , 195 The Hindquarters, 199 7. Homosexuality, 204 Pathics, 209 Pathic K , 213 Active Pederasty, 215 Effeminacy, 219 Autoerotic Behavior, 220 Appendix, 223 Bibliography, 229
comic obscenity. A straight lexical approach would have made it impossible to do justice to the material: the terminology must be explained as it occurs in each individual context and in relation to typologically similar terminology; definitions alone would be neither accurate nor enlightening. Readers who wish to consult this book as a reference work may use the indexes, which have been designed for use as a glossary. For readers who have little or no Greek but wish to make use of the Greek
pp. 168 ff.; van Daele's preface to Thesmophoriazusae (Bude edition, pp. 9f.). The Dramatic Function of Obscenity in the Plays of Aristophanes 87 adultery, the ways of women,26 and the relations between the sexes, all unified and focused by the constant presence of the Relation, the most richly developed buffoon in Aristophanes. Though not the hero, the buffoonish Relation, like the heroes of earlier comedies, holds a virtual monopoly on obscenity and general outspokenness, of which there is
their decision to forbid access to their cunts: e.g. L 309, where the men cry , "let's rush the gates like rams!" (see ). 142. Also used in this kind of symbolism is : L 265 (cf. ) ,152 L 250 where Lysistrata swears not to , open these gates, and L 423 where the men say ray , "we've been closed out from the gates by these women!"Cf. = common whores (CA 805) and see section 57, above.153 We may note a less lofty appearance later in Lysistrata, (1163), in a passage of geographical puns on the
159. , the fish called , was used to indicate the genitals of both sexes (CA 1023): see chap. 2, n. 18. 160. the cavity (pink or red) of a seashell, used in technical writers for many bodily cavities,181 is a double entendre meaning "vagina" in the joke at V 583—89 concerning the seal on the young heiress's will: Bdelycleon rebukes his father thus, dvaKOfyvhca^CtiV. That is, you are wrong (1) to uncap the seal on her will and (2) to unseal her virginity.182 is common in this obscene meaning:183