The Frogs by Aristophanes

Aristophanes is a comedy writer. He is considered the greatest writer of the old comedy. “The Frogs”, written by Aristophanes, is a comedy and won the first prize when it was first exhibited at the Dionysus Festival in Lenaia in 405 BC. In this article, ı am going to analyze the character of Dionysus. The relationship Dionysus has made is depicted in his character in comic terms.

Xanthias and Dionysus, whose communications began at the very beginning of the comedy, have an uncertain relationship between them. Xanthias, Dionysus’ slave, has very funny comments on mistakes. He constantly complains and competes with Dionysus. Dionysus is always in controversy with him. He makes ridiculous jokes and quibbles with slave Xanthias. ‘’What I just said carries lots of weight. DIONYSUS: Isn’t the donkey carrying our load? XANTHIAS: No, no way. Not the load I’m holding. DIONYSUS: How come? How can you be carrying anything at all when someone else is carrying you? XANTHIA: I’ve no idea. But my shoulder’s falling off…’’ We can see in there, there is some weirdness between them. This weirdness gives the audience a reason to laugh. Heracles, where Dionysus went to seek advice for the journey, welcomes him with laughter because Dionysus is dressed like him to impress Heracles but he is unaware that he looks funny. Dionysos maintains his feminine attitude that arouses funny laughter in Heracles. Trying to show himself strong and fearless, Dionysus actually looks even more fun when trying to cover up his fear. ‘’HERCULES: That was Theseus. He started it. Once past the lake, you’ll find snakes. You’ll see thousands of them, horrific monsters. DIONYSUS: Don’t keep trying to scare me. That won’t work. There’s no way you’ll get me to turn back.’’.

When Dionysus begins his journey, he meets Charon and we see a different comedy there. Charon is someone aggressive, and the responses that he gave to Dionysus cause the audience to laugh. ‘’DIONYSUS: What am I doing? I’m sitting on this oar. That’s what you ordered me to do. CHARON: Come on, fatso — park your butt right here. ‘’. On the other hand, Dionysus’s absurd reactions to events, and the slave’s attitude to all of this is a comedy element. I want to give an example of it. ‘’Where are you putting that sponge? O golden gods, you keep your heart in there? DIONYSUS: It was scared — it ran off to my lower bowel. XANTHIAS: Of all gods and men no one’s more cowardly than you. DIONYSUS: Me? How can I be when I asked you for the sponge? Another man would not have asked, as I did.’’. Even when Dionysus ignores his suffering, he manages to make us laugh. ‘’ AEACUS: Why are your eyes full of tears? DIONYSUS: I smell onions.’’. After a few times, we realize that Dionysus softens even the moment of tension with funny reactions. Example for this ‘’ DIONYSUS [to the attendants] Hey, boys, bring out a sheep — a black one, too. It looks as if a storm’s about to break.’’

To sum up, there are a lot of comic terms of Dionysus, and I mentioned them above. I would like to give voice to that Dionysus is strongly parodied.

— Yaren Karakoç —

Student at Cankaya University / English Language and Literature