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To what extent do you think Aristophanes has serious targets in Wasps and to what extent is he simply trying to make the audience laugh? Give reasons for your views

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  • Essay length: 1226 words
  • Submitted: 25/04/2011
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AS and A Level Classics

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To what extent do you think Aristophanes has serious targets in Wasps and to what extent is he simply trying to make the audience laugh? Give reasons for your views

While the 'Wasps' is largely considered as one of the "old comedies," it does however appear to be making subtle attacks on various people associated with the Wasps. For example, by observing the behaviour of Philocleon we see that Aristophanes is discreetly satirising the judicial system of Attica in this period.

The opening of the Wasps informs the audience of a monster of sorts living in the entrapped house we see on stage. This "monster" however is later revealed to be the elderly father of the main character (Bdelycleon) and is described as being addicted to the judiciary. While comic effect is produced by the bizarre situation before us, the underlying message is to demonstrate how those of the judiciary are ultimately slaves to Cleon's will. This is shown by the condition that Philocleon has found himself in after years of serving under Cleon's rule - he has been trained to believe that his job is one of immense value and privilege, regardless of the truths later

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