7 Feb. Wasps & Into. Mystery Cycles


  • 1. Questions about the podcast assignment? Also, you are welcome to incorporate the current production of Big Love into your podcast.

(Wasps, 37-67)

  • 1. What are some reasons Bdelycleon uses to persuade his father to “try his own household” (767)? Which of the reasons that Bdelycleon proves to be most persuasive and why?  
  • 2. Describe the staging of the domestic courtroom. Of what is the Dog from Cydathenaeum accused? What is the most absurd aspect of the domestic court? Compare the domestic court scene to mock trial (is a juror a slave) in 1.1?
  • 3. What persuades Philocleon to acquit the first dog? 
  • 4. Towards the end of the first act, the Chorus leader addresses the audience directly for a second time and on behalf of the audience. Of what is he trying to persuade the audience? Is he successful?.
  • 5. How/why does Aristophanes cast the audience of his plays as a jury? What sorts of metaphors does he use to figure his complaint? How do all the examples of poor judgement complicate the decision the jury has to make?
  • 6.How does the figure of the animal complicate ideal masculinity in the final choral ode at in Act 1 (1060-1122)? 
  • 7. What sorts of clothes is Bdelycleon trying to get Philocleon to wear? Why does Philocleon initially resist? What persuades him to finally give in?
  • 8. What’s ironic about having so many rules at a “drinking party”? What sorts of stories Bdelycleon want his dad to tell? What sorts of stories does Philocleon want to tell?
  • 9. Is the drinking party as treacherous as Bdelycleon expects?
  • 10. How does the Philocleon ruin the party? Why does he try to convince Bdelycleon that the flute girls is a torch holder?
  • 11. Of what do the citizens accuse Philocleon at the end of the play?
  • 12. The play concludes with Philocleon and the chorus spinning around in circles. What are we supposed to take away from this final image? Do you agree with the Chorus’s final assessment that “No comic poet till today/Has hit on such a clever way/Of leading off his chorus” (1541-43)?

Roman Drama, 240 BC (approx.) to 4th c.

Reworking of Greek tragedy/comedy. Comedy by playwrights like Terrance and Plautus eliminate the chorus and break the plays into acts. Rome is of course innovative in other aspects of performance: mimes, animal baiting shows, arena spectacle, and processionals. Playing persists into the eastern Empire, but declines along with everything else around 5th c.

Roman Theater, France

Liturgical Drama:

Though all sorts of less formal drama no doubt persisted despite bing recorded in writing, another form of drama emerges in Europe around 1000 BCE, performed on holidays like Easter, Whitsun, Corpus Christi, and the Twelfth Night’s entertainment. Liturgical Drama is as the name suggests, an enacting of scene from the liturgy in the choir of cathedrals.

Harrowing of Hell

Mystery Plays 14th & 15th c.

Mystery drama is incredibly ambitious and not bounded within set play structures. “In York for example, the theatrical space and time of this urban, amateur drama was that of the entire city, lasting form sunrise throughout the entire long summer holiday” (406). These plays were performed in cycles, sometimes on the flat beds of moving carts OR in set stages and the audience moved. A guild, a consortium of workers loosely analogous to contemporary trade unions, were responsible for one component of a larger cycle. The plays are called “mysteries” after the guild, which were also called mysteries from the Latin ministerium. “Often the subject of the play corresponded to the function of the guild (thus the Pinners, or nail-makers, performed the York Crucifixion)” (407). The Morality plays, allegorical plays popular in 15th and 16th c., grow out of mystery tradition.

Clip from the York Mystery Plays 2012

Clip from York Mystery Plays Intro.

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