Aristotle is known as one of the greatest philosophers in the world, who wrote about literary theory. Before his time, others had tried literary criticism in many different ways mostly to use literature to educate on moral, social, religious and political ideas. Aristotle’s poetics have had a major influence on the way we read, understand and analyze literature and poetry in the present day. His work is regarded as important text in the continuing debates about the nature and purpose of literature. His work still applies to many situations in life, topics that are still as important now as they were when he wrote.
In the basic Greek education, reading and memorizing written poems was the norm in understanding and expressing literature. This taught the important skills of reading and writing and was used to teach social, moral and religious values. This extended to the adult life where poems and songs were used as the main entertainment in parties and social gatherings. It was only in theatres that different social classes came close to be one on the stage.
Much of the great works of art today is great because of the understanding and use of Aristotle’s theories and meanings as well as from the new findings that are coming up from Aristotle’s work. Aristotle defines poetic tragedy as the imitation of an action that is serious and also as having magnitude, complete in itself. “It’s a form of drama producing the emotions of pity and fear.” The deeds attached to characters in a tragic poem do not reflect the people it portrays but their actions and their effects.
Compare and Contrast Aristophanes and Menander
Aristophanes and Menander are two most famous Greek writers of comedy in the old days. Aristophanes is known for his plays using old comedy while Menander’s uses new comedy. Aristophanes was of an older era than Menander’s but that does not stop their plays from running the same comic phrases though on different levels. The differences and similarities between the two playwrights are numerous but the most outstanding are the choice of language, plot and audience.
Aristophanes used satire tinged with innuendos of a sexual nature and comic actions and words to display his ideas. This in old Athens was new and many people enjoyed the plays as they represented the comical face of political members. On the other hand, he displayed Athens at its best and worst on the same breath and used his plays to express his loathing for some actions and activities taking place in society. He also never fabricated his characters he took real life situations and wrote about them to show the real injustices taking place in society (Cartwright).
Menander’s is a new comedy writer who started writing at a time when the structure of the play had undergone some changes. He used real life situation but not once that had really happened to demonstrate his art. His plays used intellectual comedy where the educated were mainly the ones to enjoy the plays. Though polished and written using clear language the plays used light words that even a commoner would follow in a fashion. These contrasted largely with Aristophanes works as his plays were for people of all classes. Menander used less satire and sexual innuendos to have a fast passed romantic funny exchange of words that kept the viewer on alert in order to understand and follow the action (Cartwright).
Menander has observed all the social status in his plays ensuring that high profile roles had the right language and attire. Aristophanes on the other hand, rejected this social divides and mixed the languages, attires and roles of his actors. The high society was insulted by this but it served Aristophanes intention of ignoring the social lines (Rosell, 112). The contrast made his plays famous and even though it hit on aristocrats, they enjoyed the plays. The only difference was that the educated people felt Aristophanes did not take advantage of his plays language wise. He used common language and an educated or uneducated person had an easy time following and understanding the play.
The targeted audience is another contrast between Aristophanes and Menander. Aristophanes wrote his plays for people of all classes and education levels to pass the message of injustice in the community. The aristocrats had a problem with Aristophanes work because of the innuendos and the lack of distinction in class. It however captivated their sense of injustice, human rights and political ironies to make them watch the plays. On the other hand, Menander was polished with respect for the different levels of society and a mellow sense of humor that left the audience alights with intelligence rather than knowledge. Aristophanes was a popular playwright for he presented the community as he saw it but his course, rough and wounding character oriented plays left a lot to be desired.
The major similarity between the two playwrights is that they both endeavored to educate the society on the dangers it faced. The presentation may have been different but the underlying message was the same with a sense of humor. These different level of comedy are still in use by modern writers and meaning the intended message is still being sent out to the society. The Aristophanes comic plays and poems are still available and are used to reference Greek mythologies using the Greek information given in the plays. Menander has enjoyed a longer career that Aristophanes and this has made Menander more famous for his educated sense of humor (Moralia).
Changing comedy from old to new through the middle level took a while to be adopted but in the end, it took root. This ensured that though course and wounding words were still being used they would be limited to what the play contained without giving the author’s opinion between the scenes. This has allowed imitation to be used more than reality reducing the attacks politicians and famous people had to endure in the past. This does not mean that the current playwrights ignore the injustices and political manipulation that take place but rather they use a less direct manner to attain their goal.
Theater has been used for years and years to express the thoughts and feeling of the minority. It has now a deeper role in teaching the society of the vices it faces and ways of overcome the issues. The differences between the two artists have created a blend of writing that is comic, educative and intelligent. At the same time playwrights are using their creativity to condemn the same issues that the fore fathers of comedy and literature were condemning.
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