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To What Extent Do You Think Aristophanes Has Serious Targets in W...

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To What Extent Do You Think Aristophanes Has Serious Targets in Wasps and to What Extend Is He Simply Trying to Make His Audience Laugh

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Through the character of Xanthias, Aristophanes claims that he does not “intend to make mincemeat of Cleon this time”. As this is during the opening of the play, the audience may assume that “Wasps” is not a serious critique of political matters at this time, however many relations of Cleon are named which does suggest a political target of importance. Aristophanes can be seen to seriously criticise Cleon during the debate between Bdelycleon and Philocleon. A distinct contrast of personalities and views is portrayed through these characters from the first introduction of said characters, as “Bdely”, meaning hate, or puke, suggests a hatred of Cleon due to the use of “Cleon” as a suffix, and “Philo” meaning love, suggests a fond admiration of the archon. It is this difference in opinions which divides the father and son and causes the debate. Through the character of Bdelycleon, Aristophanes insists that Cleon takes advantage of the jurymen, paying them less than ten per cent of the national income of which they produce. It is suggested that the people elected to rule over the state receive all of the benefits whilst the jurymen, who work for the state, receive merely the leftovers. It is also suggested that Cleon encourages the jurymen and more trials to take place in order to raise funds and gain more money, not for the sake of justice. Further critiques of Cleon are shown through Sosias’ dream. These critiques, however, appear more light-hearted and mere immature digs at the physical appearance of the archon as “a rapacious-looking creature with the figure of a whale” depicts Cleon speaking to the Athenian citizens. It could also be argued that this is a clear critique of the relationship between Cleon and the people. This is because the people are portrayed as the sheep in Sosias’ dream, who just follow one another under the leadership of Cleon, all wearing the same little cloaks and all listening intently to the speaker before them, producing a more serious...