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 represented?
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 computer <-:
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. LOL!
23:07 - Torrey Philemon
       True, Morgana. The statues represented their heroes.
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 your shelf...
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
       (lol Zoe)
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 asking)
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 preserved.
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 think
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.
23:22 - Torrey Philemon
       The masses end up getting taken in by persuasive talk (and double talk).
23:22 - Aphrodite
      Right, Zoe...also, everyone's idea of a Utopia can not be the same.
23:22 - Zoe
       That's interesting Torrey, I hadn't come across that
23:23 - Torrey Philemon
       Interesting definition of democracy, Morgana. Do you know who said that?
23:23 - Zoe
       And is the majority really fit to dictate?
23:23 - Morgana Flavius
       (oh, it's a common saying round here, don't really know who said that)
23:24 - Torrey Philemon
       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 a few....
23:24 - Morgana Flavius
       I think no one is fit to dictate, Zoe... but dictate one must if something needs to get done. Or no?
23:26 - Aphrodite
       I agree, Torrey. I definitely think that media is one of the big evils of our time.
23:26 - Morgana Flavius
       Yes, T, you're right. So maybe we could amend the saying: democracy is the dictatorship of the majority, ruled by the richest ones (assuming that disseminating information costs money)
23:26 - Zoe
       I sometimes think that those who govern should be trained to do so. I don't know how that could be done though
23:27 - Zoe
       or ruled by the flashiest ones
23:27 - Torrey Philemon
       On another note - are there any other themes,topics etc. in the Birds that any of you want to bring up?
23:27 - Morgana Flavius
       And who would be the trainers...
23:28 - Aphrodite
       I don't think it can be done. 'cause even if we train them, who decides *what* to teach them?
23:28 - Morgana Flavius
       I have nothing else to bring up
23:28 - Zoe
       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 they were dead.

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
23:32 - Zoe
       First chorus speech
23:32 - Morgana Flavius
       (trying to locate the passage)
23:33 - Torrey Philemon
       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.
23:35 - Zoe
       p 247 in the Arrowsmith
23:35 - Torrey Philemon
       Ah the first chorus speach I found was page 212....Will look at 247.
23:35 - Zoe
       that one says they'll lie at public cost since they fell as soldiers - that's what I want to know about
23:36 - Torrey Philemon
       Maybe you have a different edition Zoe. I have the large paperback. No Chorus on 247.
23:36 - Zoe
       though the Ceramicus is not mentioned there
23:36 - Morgana Flavius
       Just got it Zoe. If you check Arrowsmith's notes, it says about that part: soldiers who fell on the battlefield for Athens were buried at public expense in the Kerameikos outside the ciy.
23:36 - Torrey Philemon
       What page in your edition, Morgana?
23:37 - Morgana Flavius
       The notes are on page 321-322
23:37 - Zoe
       ack! so sorry, the notes I made for questions came from the anon version and I din't go back through the other
23:37 - Morgana Flavius
       Page 217 on the play
23:38 - Torrey Philemon
       Thanks, got it in Arrowsmith (I wish all the editions had numbered lines; it's hard to identify them otherwise)
23:39 - Aphrodite
       I have a different translation, so i'm kind of just reading what you all are writing :)
23:40 - Morgana Flavius
       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?
23:40 - Torrey Philemon
       Have you participated in an online book discussion before, Aphrodite?
23:40 - Morgana Flavius
       *curious to hear Aphrodite*
23:41 - Aphrodite
       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
       What writer?
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 same approach
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 of everything.
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 <-:
23:45 - Morgana Flavius
       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?
23:45 - Aphrodite
       LoL, I suppose. I think I find romance novels a tad more sexist than other books. I think i'm now permanently stuck in a "feminist" phase. LoL.
23:45 - Zoe
       Romance may just be for The Birds.
23:46 - Aphrodite
       LoL, Zoe! They all *are* the same, no? There were a FEW that were good and different, but ah, after a while, they start to all sound the same.
23:46 - Torrey Philemon
       One subject Zoe Morgana and I wanted to study and chat on last year (but never did) was how matriarchy/matrilineal cultures became conquered by patriarchy.
23:46 - Torrey Philemon
       Another "feminist" subject of interest - the Amazons.
23:47 - Morgana Flavius
       Yes... but we did one chat on it, didn't we?
23:47 - Aphrodite
       I think it was possible that 'birds' were just supposed to represent a group of humans...but that could be only because it reminded me of "Animal Farm"
23:47 - Zoe
       I have that book I mentioned last time, by the Gates of Fire author, Steven Pressfield, on the Amazons. Can''t think of the title
23:47 - Zoe
       I can see the relation to animal farm in a way
23:47 - Aphrodite
       Ah! i missed the chat on the Amazons too?! :(
23:47 - Torrey Philemon
       Not sure I understand your question Morgana (...that everything was a crazy fantasy)
23:48 - Torrey Philemon
       Zoe, I got that book but haven't read it - the Last of the Amazons.
23:48 - Torrey Philemon
       No we didn't have a chat on the Amazons. But Zoe I know did some reading on the subject and we were considering some discussion.
23:48 - Morgana Flavius
       Yes, bad word choice Torrey... let me rephrase it
23:48 - Zoe
       Not so much a suspension of belief but a satire, an entertaining look at real life?
23:49 - Morgana Flavius
       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?
23:50 - Aphrodite
       I agree, Zoe. I think having the birds be like people was just another way of making is more comedic, so to speak
23:50 - Torrey Philemon
       About Aristophanes - I'd really like to have more chats on Aristophanes plays but don't know who's interested. I know that Morgana is "on the fence" in that regard.
23:50 - Morgana Flavius
       maybe the birds would represent some foreign distant people (distant from Athens)
23:51 - Aphrodite
      LoL! Oh the play would have a completely different theme if E and P were crazy, no? Imagine if the whole thing was just in their head!
23:51 - Zoe
       The bird part was a vehicle for A's statements on the state of affairs in Athens, the bureaucrats, et al.
23:51 - Torrey Philemon
       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 subject here)
23:51 - Zoe
       I'd like to go through some more of his plays. But if that's not on, let's continue to read something together. I'm easy
23:52 - Morgana Flavius
       I guess I stepped off the fence, Torrey: I'm not interested in a further chat on Aristophanes or Greek tragedy/comedy, for the time being. This one is good for me.
23:52 - Torrey Philemon
       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)
23:52 - Zoe
       Peace is also supposed to be,well, something, I forget what. I'm definitely interested in Archarnians after my history reading today
23:53 - Aphrodite
       I would like to discuss greek tragedy; my preference for an Aristophanes play is Assembly-women. But, i'm mostly good with anything
23:53 - Zoe
       What might you be up for Morgana? And you Aphrodite?
23:54 - Morgana Flavius
       I'm still fascinated by the Romans
23:54 - Zoe
       I think Peace and Archarnians and one other were sort of a 'set' - weren't they?
23:54 - Torrey Philemon
       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)
23:55 - Zoe
       And I'm always interested in the women ones, both of them, I'll not type them out
23:55 - Morgana Flavius
       or the Greeks of the Mycenian/Cretan period (the Trojan War period, Homer)
23:56 - Aphrodite
       Romans sounds like a good subject. Do you have any suggestions, Morgana?
23:56 - Zoe
       It was intereting how each translator in your group protrayed the gobbleygook,
23:56 - Torrey Philemon
       I get the impression that Peace is very 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.
23:56 - Aphrodite
       Also, i'm up for anything of the Trojan war period
23:56 - Zoe
       Maybe we should have a go at the PRessfield then
23:57 - Torrey Philemon
       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.
23:57 - Morgana Flavius
       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 just looked
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 Amazons).
23:58 - Zoe
       I've got'em all *g*

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