THE BIRDS CHAT page three July 12, 2002
Online Chat on The Birds, a comedy by Aristophanes. One of dozens of online chats by members of Ancient Sites studying the Greek classics in translation.
23:04 - Torrey Philemon
Maybe if people weren't so seduced by novelty we
wouldn't have so much "progress" LOL!
23:04 - Zoe
I think your pictures are great Torrey, I've looked
at them. I just don't want to wake up to a figure skater on my wall.
But obviously someone does. *s*
23:04 - Aphrodite
As a writer once said, "Characters evolve. Tragedy
of life: People don't"
23:05 - Zoe
Or to paraphrase what you said, Aphrodite, I've
always had a streak of "no one does that" making me want to go right
out and do whatever it is. LOL!
23:06 - Morgana Flavius
Well, what were all the statues in ancient times
for anyway if not to keep people "closer" to the great figures they
23:06 - Torrey Philemon
I doubt if any of us four are "normal" or we
wouldn't be here on a Friday night discussing Aristophanes on a
23:06 - Aphrodite
LoL, Zoe. I do that too. Just the thought that
something is going to annoy other people makes it more likely for me
to do it.
23:07 - Zoe
Yes, Torrey. I believe you have it right there.
23:07 - Torrey Philemon
True, Morgana. The statues represented their
23:07 - Morgana Flavius
But to "dress" like your gods or heroes is much
more than hanging a pic on the wall or buying a little statue for
23:07 - Aphrodite
Being normal is over-rated. I would rather be
'weird' than be a sheep.
23:08 - Zoe
I call it the mud puddle syndrome - as in 'don't
step in that mud puddle!" Always drove my mother nuts.
23:08 - Morgana Flavius
23:08 - Torrey Philemon
The birds become like sheep. Though there is one
interesting one who speaks out. Korphais: "What's in it for them?
Who are they trying to stick?"
23:09 - Morgana Flavius
Well I always thought we were weirdos... now I am
sure (including myself on the list, of course!)
23:09 - Zoe
I don't know about your interpretation of the
statues. Ones of real people would have been a form of self
agrandisement (sp?) wouldn't they have? And surely there were
sculptors of the time just making art for art's sake.
23:09 - Torrey Philemon
Well folks I hate to say but the Star Trek
conventions here attract thousands of people dressed like Klingons
and Ferengi and many other 24th century species.....And Morgana,
don't people do a lot of costume-wearing at Mardi-Gras?
23:10 - Morgana Flavius
Yes, Torrey, there's always one voice doubting the
pretty cosmogonies; but they get somehow overwhelmed by all those
who like the cosmogony that says they're gods
23:10 - Torrey Philemon
Was art for art's sake at that time, Zoe? Wasn't it
usually for a religious or political purpose? (I don't know, just
23:10 - Zoe
But Mardi Gras, at least in New Orleans, is a dress
up day, not so much an imitation of something, but a letting loose
of inhibitions. a play.
23:11 - Aphrodite
Morgana, I think in human societies, the negative
sanctioning associated with NOT being a sheep often takes care of
any opposition before it occurs
23:11 - Zoe
I have no idea either, Torrey, but knowing artists
now, I would assume that, again, people don't change all that much.
There had to have been artists just making art with no other agenda
23:12 - Aphrodite
People often don't agree with the popular opinion
but they are too afraid to say that out loud.
23:12 - Morgana Flavius
Exactly Zoe. In Carnival, people are not imitating
anyone in particular, they just want to look funny or - as it is
more likely today - go out naked just for the fun of it.
23:12 - Torrey Philemon
Forgive me for injecting a liberal/radical point of
view, but frankly I think much of the American public has been like
the Birds in regard to the Bush regime. Blind gullibility, scared
after 9-11, wanting to believe that Big Daddy is in charge and will
take care of them. Meanwhile the US is on more and more of a power
trip abroad and neglecting its own, and economically failing...
23:12 - Zoe
Yes, you're right Aphrodite. I have lots of
opinions I would only voice in certain groups and some I'd never
tell anyone but my cats.
23:13 - Torrey Philemon
Yes, Zoe, it's also hard for me to believe that
there was no spontaneous art...... most of it was just not
23:13 - Aphrodite
I agree, Torrey. It's *so* much easier to pretend
that someone ELSE will take care of us than having to be on our own.
23:14 - Morgana Flavius
Agree with Torrey and Aphrodite
23:15 - Zoe
I think it's a fear thing. We know we can't really
do anything about, say, bioterroism ourselves, unless we go live in
a fallout shelter or something. So we want to think someone is
protecting us. What else is there to do? Really.
23:16 - Aphrodite
Exactly. Especially when there is nothing else to
do. People who don't believe in God would pray at a time when they
have reached the end of their rope.
23:17 - Morgana Flavius
It's always dangerous to let someone else tell you
who are your enemies (or friends). There's no such a thing as the
eternal bad guy and the eternal good guy. One must always use
her/his own discretion and decide for her/himself.
23:18 - Aphrodite
Right, Morgana. But sadly, people aren't willing ot
make their own decisions, especially when it *really* counts
23:18 - Morgana Flavius
What the birds did was to let P tell them who were
their friends and their enemies. They ended up dominated by the one
who they gave the power to "enlighten" them
23:19 - Torrey Philemon
Relating all this to the Birds, folks....... Do you
think Aristophanes was setting up Peisatairos as an ideal (how he
gained power, made his own world) or satirizing him for becoming in
part what he ran away from?
23:20 - Zoe
Yes, and in that way the birds suffered. Did you
notice how, even while P was teeeling the birds they'd be the new
gods, he was busy selecting a patron god for CloudCuckooLand? And
sacrificing to the regular gods?
23:20 - Torrey Philemon
Maybe he was making fun of the gullibility of the
masses too. From what I read, he really wasn't in favor of democracy
because he didn't trust mass opinion.
23:20 - Morgana Flavius
I think he was making fun of P and of the
Athenians, represented by P and E in the Birds
23:20 - Aphrodite
I think he was satirizing him
23:21 - Aphrodite
Well people, in general, are stupid. You think
democracy is going to solve your troubles, and the masses end up
screwing themselves up.
23:21 - Zoe
The dream of a utopia is hard to reach because
people bring their baggage with them. A was pointing that out I
23:21 - Torrey Philemon
Oh by the way, a literal translation of Peisetairos
is "Persuader of companions"
23:22 - Morgana Flavius
AS they say: democracy is nothing but the
dictatorship of the majority.
But maybe the majority doesn't really rule anyway,
if all their opinions are formed by the mass media which is run by
the corporate bigwigs. The majority can only make choices based on
the information they possess, and the information is in the hands of
I have another question: In the anon
version:Euelpides asks where they shall be buried if they die and
Pithetaerus says in the Ceramicus. What's that? And the getting of a
public funeral by saying they fell in battle. ?? Of course it would
be interesting to see how they're going to tell anyone anything if
23:29 - Morgana Flavius
Good point, Zoe. I asked myself that question too.
23:29 - Morgana Flavius
If i"m not mistaken, Ceramicus was the name given
to a huge graveyard on the outskirts of Athens
23:30 - Torrey Philemon
Did you check the Arrowsmith translation on
Ceramicus, Zoe? Where is it in the text?
23:30 - Zoe
and there was a reference to giving out black wings
for an orphan - nayone know anything about that?
23:31 - Zoe
no, that was in the anon. I'll have to see if I can
find it right quick in the other
Arrowsmith's intro had some intriguing concepts
based on Greek terminology - like references to the polupramosune of
the Athenians - the restless, interfering, power-hungry energy that
Athenians were known for...and how P was trying to escape his own
temperament but failed.
I think zoe, that what P meant was that if they
were killed by birds (very humiliating, I think) they would have to
lie and tell the Athenians that they died in battlefield, as brave
soldiers. But then again, how could they tell it if they were dead?
Sort of. I used to be in a discussion group for
this writer, whom I grew to hate later, because of the sexism in her
books that I hadn't noticed before.
23:41 - Torrey Philemon
One thing about comedy, Morgana - is that I think
if you follow some of it literally, it doesn't make sense. It's not
meant to be taken too seriously. (I just saw the Oscar Wilde movie
Importance of Being Earnest and it clearly was a farce and not meant
to be taken literally)
23:41 - Torrey Philemon
23:42 - Morgana Flavius
yes, what writer?
23:43 - Aphrodite
Hmmm...I can't remember her name...but it was
actually (is embarassed to say) in my "romance novels" phase, which
I quickly grew out of (thank god!).
23:43 - Zoe
You're right Torrey, I think I tend to try to make
it all 'real' and that's probably not the right approach, any more
than seeing a lighthearted musical of today would profit from the
23:43 - Morgana Flavius
(yes, I always heard that a good writer is one
who's good at "suspension of disbelief")
23:43 - Aphrodite
I do that too, Zoe. Try to analyse and make sense
23:44 - Torrey Philemon
Well, Aphrodite (and yes, you did choose that name!
<-: ) we probably all have had our romance novel stages. I am
permanently in a romance fantasy stage, if not novels..... !
23:45 - Zoe
I read those things for a while until I realized I
was reading the same thing over and over *g*
23:45 - Torrey Philemon
One of the online articles on Aristophanic comedy
points out that many have the plot of someone dissatisfied with
things as they are who has a fantastic scheme, puts it into action,
and succeeds. However if we seriously analyze the fantastic schemes,
in most cases we realize that they would never work <-:
And here's on of the questions in my e-mail: by
making P and E talk and interact with birds, Aristophanes was just
making a suspension of disbelief (i.e. making the audience assume
that talk to birds is normal) or was it stressing the fact that
everything was just a crazy fantasy?
In the Birds, Aristophanes wanted his audience to
admit, for the purpose of the play, that talking to birds was a
normal thing, or did he want to point out, by making the main
characters talk to birds, that P and E were just two crazy lunatics?
My Aristophanes preferences for future chats: The
Assembly-Women (Women in Politics - a great comparison to
Lysistrata, the women take over the government), the Acharnians
(anti-war protest), The Clouds (sophism). Myrrhine has expressed
interest in the Assembly-Women and also the Thesmophoria. What are
your interests if any? (yes I know I've introduced still another
Morgana - in response to your question - I think
the answer is somewhere in the middle. Suspension of disbelief. He
wanted us to view talking to birds as normal within the context of
the play itself, but not reality. Perhaps some of the humor comes
from being half involved (talking to birds) and half laughing at
(the crazy lunatics)
I wish I could get you more interested in Aristophanes, Morgana!.... In regard to your comment about the birds and foreign distant people, some notes I read referred to the birds being Athens allies (and the Triballoi, barbaric gods making fun of the barbaric distant allies who appeared to speak gobbledy gook. Apparently there was a people called the Triballoi from around Bulgaria)
I get the impression that Peace is very
sexist.....it focuses around her being personified as a nude sexy
women. I don't think they were a set. Acharnians was Aristophanes
first play, written well before the others; I think Peace was a bit
later. Both were strongly anti-war though.
Zoe, yes the names of those women ones are hard to
type. Women in Politics is the Ecclesiasuzae or something like that.
It's VERY clever....and a great companion to Lysistrata. Harder to
find though, not as many translations available.
I think that Ovid was fascinating (Metamorphoses =
myth + literature). But I don't have any particular suggestion now
23:58 - Zoe
The Pressfield is set in the time before Homer, I
23:58 - Aphrodite
The book I have has Ecclesiazusae
23:58 - Torrey Philemon
What if we do one more Aristophanes....then back to
the Trojan period or Amazons (perhaps Pressfield's Lst of the
Amazons). Is there anything non-Roman that would interest you,
Morgana (like Last of the