DQ: Wasps

Featured Image, The Jury, John Morgan


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Aristophanes, Wasps

Wasps (p.p. 3-36)

  • 1. Point out your favorite stage direction. What do the stage directions tell us about how ancient comedy was staged? How does the comedy staging differ from the staging of the tragedy? 
  • 2. What are some connections between The Oresteia and Wasps? How/why does Wasps talk back to The Oresteia?  
  • 3. Why does Bdelycleon lock his father up? What’s so terrible about being a “trialophile”(90)?
  • 4. To what sorts of animals does Philocleon get compared? Why?
  • 5. How does Philocleon’s description of the life of a juror differ from what the Chorus-Leader explains life as a juror is like?
  • 6. Is a juror a slave? Why/why not? What difference does it make?

(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)?

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