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Nonsense and Meaning in Ancient Greek Comedy

By Stephen E. Kidd

This ebook examines the idea that of 'nonsense' in old Greek notion and makes use of it to discover the comedies of the 5th and fourth centuries BCE. If 'nonsense' (phluaria, lēros) is one of those language felt to be unworthy of interpretation, it may support to outline convinced elements of comedy that experience proved tough to understand. no longer least is the recurrent notion that even supposing the comedian style will be significant (i.e. comprise political views, ethical sentiments and aesthetic tastes), a few of it's only 'foolery' or 'fun'. yet what precisely is that this 'foolery', this a part of comedy which allegedly lies past the scope of significant interpretation? the answer's to be present in the concept that of 'nonsense': by way of studying the ways that comedy doesn't suggest, the genre's dating to critical that means (whether it's political, aesthetic, or ethical) might be seen in a clearer gentle.

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Of their variants. For the sexual language in the back of κέλης, see Henderson (1991[1975]) 164–6. Cf. Wright (2012) a hundred and fifteen relating to metaphors at Nub. 260: “Such bizarre combos of pictures are memorable yet tough to interpret accurately: without doubt that's exactly the aspect. ” 86 Nonsense as “no-reference”: riddles, allegories, metaphors reference-free moments of language appear to be confident strategies aiming at a selected effect – an effect altogether different from which means. One final statement needs to be extra approximately those phenomena. within the prolonged metaphor of sexual activity at Peace 894–904, the instant that the photographs’ references are shattered appears on the climax: it happens on the finish of the outline, it's been progressively outfitted to, and, because the poetic/sexual climax of the passage, it truly is as though this second of reference-free language were the objective of the metaphor all alongside. however the simultaneous prevalence of poetic climax and damaged references is not only a function of this actual metaphor, yet a normal attribute of the phenomena mentioned during this bankruptcy: the cheese-grater’s testimony in Wasps, the levitating dung-beetle of Peace, the exasperation over Antiphanes’ riddles, these headiest moments of oracular and dithyrambic language, and that ever-present wish for intercourse that overwhelms cerebral abstractions. Nonsense frequently turns out to seem on the climaxes of comedian language, and this may be considered one of its distinguishing qualities mentioned in bankruptcy four, the place I distinguish nonsense from jokes. in contrast to jokes, that can ensue on the dullest of moments, those climactic moments of perceived nonsense frequently require a pre-existing, heightened temper to make their (usually insufferable) presence a resource of delight. ninety four even if it's the warmth of sexual power that evaporates language’s references, or the brightness of the spectacle, or the expanding absurdity of the comedian context, nonsense calls for a undeniable surroundings which permits language to exist with no that means – a similar surroundings that also is, in flip, one in every of nonsense’s maximum effects. ninety four this is often essentially a thought of Freud’s – mentioned in bankruptcy four. bankruptcy three Nonsense as “no-serious sense”: the case of Cinesias καὶ διθυράμβων νοῦν ἔχεις ἐλάττονα Proverb quoted by means of Σ. Birds 13921 within the earlier bankruptcy, I tested a few comedian tropes like allegories and metaphors and argued that during the invention of those tropes’ references usually whatever turns out to head lacking, which, I argued, was once the conception of nonsense. the matter with this argument is that such tropes include just a small a part of comedy, whereas perceptions of nonsense appear to take place not only within the face of a handful of metaphors or “broken” allegories, yet in the course of a lot broader stretches of comedian motion. Even entire comedies, every now and then, are often called “nonsense. ”2 it isn't sufficient to go looking for in all likelihood malfunctioning tropes or perhaps formal incongruity in such moments of perceived nonsense, because the nonsense doesn't inevitably come up from a few detected indecipherability.

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