Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Thesmophoriazusae: Introduction to Greek Sense of Humour

Euripides made me read this.

Having read some really gruesome Greek tragedies, I decided that I had to acquaintance myself with Greek comedy, so I browsed Wikipedia for advice. Lysisastra was my first option (a friend recommended it for me), however, upon reading the synopsis, I decided that I wouldn't like it. Then I read the plot of Thesmophoriazusae, in which it makes a parody of Euripides. That definitely made me read.


Thesmophoriazusae starts with Euripides and his friend (in-law, actually), Mnesilochus, discussed the chance of Euripides being killed by women. The women were offended by Euripides' portrayal of their sex in his plays. So in Thesmophoria, a fertility festival for Demeter, they plan to discuss how to revenge him.

At first, Euripides sought the help of Agathon, a fellow playwright who cross-dresses as a woman. However, he refused. So Euripides dressed Mnesilochus instead as a woman and sent him to Thesmophorion to save his life.

In Thesmophorion, the women had a sort-of democratic debate about Euripides. Mnesilochus tried to defend Euripides by asserting that Euripides had justly portrayed women as such, as he himself (dressed as a woman) had done acts even more terrible than what Euripides told in his plays.

But his disguise was discovered. He was captured and he awaited his punishment. Euripides panicked. In some foolish attempts to save Mnesilochus he played Perseus/Andromeda and Menelaus/Helen (Mnesilochus always played the girl, by the way).

At last, Euripides plead to the women, promising them he wouldn't portray them the way he had before in his plays. They didn't agree to save Mnesilochus, but he let him tried to do so.

With a trick, he freed Mnesilochus from a Scythian Archer who was ordered to kill him.


All in all, it's so Greek to me. As I said before, it's my first Greek Comedy.

The comic elements of the play - crossdressing, homosexuality and jokes about homosexuality, parody of well-known plays - remind me that humanity hasn't really change since Aristophanes' time.

Although I was not really amused by this particular play, I put some Greek plays on my to-read list. One of them is Ipheginea at Tauris, which I will read when I have time. Or in April. Depends.

How was your first month in PLAY ON!? Have you been enjoying your play? Please share here.

1 comment:

  1. I was scared of a comedy because I thought I wouldn't get the humour. Fairly convinced now I was right to go with tragedy. Emma