Curbing the Comedians: Cleon Versus Aristophanes and Syracosius' Decree

Classical Quarterly 42 (01):56- (1992)

There is a tendency to prune the record of restrictions on the freedom of thought and expression in fifth-century Athens. K. J. Dover has demonstrated that many of the stories of attacks on intellectuals rest on little more than flimsy speculation. Similarly there has been a reluctance to accept the historicity of the several restrictions on comedy recorded by scholiasts. Thus, for example, H. B. Mattingly has expressed doubts about Morychides' decree, and S. Halliwell has rejected Antimachus' decree as a fiction and has adopted an agnostic attitude towards Syracosius' decree. But one cannot sweep all the references aside as fallacious inferences. This short paper looks first at the evidence that Cleon initiated a legal action against Aristophanes after the production of the The Babylonians, in the light of what the Old Oligarch wrote about curbs on comedians. Secondly, the historicity of Syracosius' decree will be tested by an attempt to define its nature and purpose in its political context. This exercise will show that circumstantial evidence adduced against the historicity of the decree has no compelling force
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DOI 10.1017/s0009838800042580
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References found in this work BETA

The Decree of Syrakosios.Alan H. Sommerstein - 1986 - Classical Quarterly 36 (01):101-.
A Case For Aristomenes.Dwora Gilula - 1989 - Classical Quarterly 39 (2):332-338.

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Citations of this work BETA

Aristophanes'Adôniazousai.L. Reitzammer - 2008 - Classical Antiquity 27 (2):282-333.
Was There a Decree of Syrakosios?Jeremy Trevett - 2000 - Classical Quarterly 50 (2):598-600.

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