journal of undergraduate research
For we have come to see that we must not take suchpoetry seriously as a serious thing that lays hold ontruth, but that he who lends an ear to it must be onhis guard.
Aristophanes, on the other hand, repeatedly asserts in his playsthe poet’s—that is, his own—power to speak the truth, which willsave the city. In the section called the “parabasis” of Old Comedies(to be discussed later), the actors leave the stage and the chorus lead-er drops his mask to deliver “a message direct from the poet to the Athenian public.”
, the parabasis includes a spir-ited defense of Aristophanes’ ability to lead the
at is the reason the allied emissariesContinue to come, impatient to meet this brilliant poet Who had the nerve to steer the Athenians towards whatis right.
us we see a debate about who has authority to give advice tothe city. Many intellectuals claim that only a philosopher, a man of wisdom and logic untainted by the inﬂuence of his lower faculties,should be allowed to speak on grave matters of the state.
e poet,political comedian, however, thinks that he himself can tell the city the truth about its corrupt politicians, law courts, and misguidedsophistry.
is debate between Plato and Aristophanes concerns issues thatare still relevant and controversial today. With the soaring popular-ity of political comedy such as
e Daily Show
e Colbert Report
Saturday Night Live
, especially leading up to the 2008 presiden-tial election, many have had to take notice of political comedy as acultural force.
is comedy is, as Goldhill says of poetry in classical Athens, “recognized and challenged as an educative medium,” andmany Americans today are concerned by the increasing trend amongthe young electorate to rely on such programs as news sources. A 2004 poll conducted by the Pew Center for the People and the Press