This is dirty, I didn’t know this, had to go all the way back to 1735 England
they hir’d Aristophanes, with the consideration of a good round Sum, to expose the Philosopher on the Stage. They instructed him too which way to direct the Satyr… Aristophanes, who had no more Honesty than his Poverty would allow, easily swallow’d the Bribe.
Pretty much like hiring a hitman. Throughout the 18th century that was how people in England saw Aristophanes, as someone who accepted a bribe.
I’m reading about that satirist who caused the censorship laws to be implemented in the English theatre which remained in effect until 1968
Fielding confesses his guilt in attacking Socrates, but suggests, as Akenside later would, that what we learn from that is a respect for the power of ridicule when it is applied to more deserving targets.
St. Chrysostom makes a similar point to that, and to the one I made earlier about respecting him as the primal clown despite some of his ill-chosen targets
It was pity his Matter was not as pure as his Style
In 18th century England being referred to as a “modern Aristophanes” was an insult. And some referred to Fielding as that. They condemned satire in the name of “decency and justice”. This is the England a couple generations after Milton who we saw interpreted the Homeric heroes as Satanic. The Greeks and Christians do not see eye to eye about certain things.
Was humor in 18th century England the same as it is now?
[Foote] passed himself off as the “English Aristophanes” without running seriously afoul of the government. Quite the opposite: he did it with official sanction and support. We might wonder in what sense, then, was he Aristophanic?
I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that this genre has its origins in condemning philosophy. Humor is used by the state to justify its existence. Reminds me of Badiou, Mathematical Maoism, theatre, and childhood education- get them to laugh at the enemies of the state at a young age and you’ll be set for life with obedient citizens.
There is a cynical way of looking at old books- that many of them survived because the herd liked them. Who knows what that satirist who Alcibiades had drowned joked about. The funniest ones might not have survived to this day because the ones they mocked were the great majority that had the ability to arbitrate the fate of whether they were preserved or burned.
Whether Aristophanes accepted bribes or not, whether he was an instrument of the state or not, the Birds and a couple other plays of his, if they were adapted to modern times in an honest manner, would result in a similar effect to that of the censorship laws caused by the Aristophanic plays of Fielding who was literally locked out of the theatre.