Aristophanes' Birds, Wasps, and Frogs offer the best-known examples of the animal choruses of Greek comedy of the fifth century BC, but sixth-century vase-paintings of men costumed as cocks, bulls, and horses indicated that comedies were only the last phase of a longer tradition. This book suggests that although the earlier masquerades may have had ritual origins, they should be seen also as products of the culture of the archaic aristocratic symposium. The animal choruses of the late fifth century may have been conscious revivals of an earlier tradition. Moreover, the animals of comedy were not the predators found in other literary genres; they were, instead, social animals who showed that nature and culture could co-exist. The Birds, which tells the story of a city foundation, also parodies fifth-century philosophical accounts of the origins of human civilization. Also discussed are the Wasps, Frogs, and fragments of lost comedies.
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