The role of god Hermes in the ancient comedy

Postgraduate Thesis uoadl:2885246 261 Read counter

Κατεύθυνση Αρχαία Ελληνική Φιλολογία
Library of the School of Philosophy
Deposit date:
Bampana Eleni
Supervisors info:
Kωνσταντάκος Ιωάννης,Καθηγητής Αρχαίας Ελληνικής Φιλολογίας,τμήμα φιλολογίας,ΕΚΠΑ
Βερτουδάκης Βασίλειος,Επίκουρος Καθηγητής Αρχαίας Ελληνικής Φιλολογίας,τμήμα φιλολογίας,ΕΚΠΑ
Γεωργακοπούλου Σοφία,Αναπληρώτρια Καθηγήτρια Λατινικής Φιλολογίας,τμήμα φιλολογίας,ΕΚΠΑ
Original Title:
Ο ρόλος του θεού Ερμή στην αρχαία κωμωδία
Translated title:
The role of god Hermes in the ancient comedy
Abstract [The role of god Hermes in ancient Greek and Latin comedy]
The main purpose of this thesis is the examination of the various ways of representation of god Hermes, one the most characteristic deities of linguistic communication, in ancient comedy, and more particularly in Aristophanes and Plautus. The three comedies under examination are Aristophanes’ Peace (421 BC) and Wealth (381 BC) as well as Plautus’ Amphitruo (214 BC), the well-known comedy of errors. Hermes, the messenger of Zeus’ boulē and the guard of limits, is approachable to humans and philanthrōpos despite his flaws. His inferiority makes him the most suitable god for comic exploitation both from Aristophanes (in Peace and Wealth) and Plautus (Amphitruo). In the aforementioned Aristophanic comedies (alongside the ancient herm in Aristophanes’ Clouds) are examined the metatheatrical and comic association of Hermes and Dionysus and the former’s comic characteristics: he is the celestial messenger and servant, polutropos (of many devices), and gluttonous, who cannot confine his famine. Furthermore, he acts as a ‘supporting actor’ and an insulting figure in Peace, while in Wealth he is just a humorous caricature mocking those who suffer the consequences of the return of Eirēnē (Peace). What is particularly interesting is that in the prologue of Plautus’ Amphitruo Hermes (lat. Mercurius) constitutes a symbol of laughter and irony representing at the same time the subversive universe of comedy: Mercurius and Iupiter (Zeus) are two actors of the same play, for they are transformed into the servant Sosias and his master Amphitruo respectively. Mercurius, who is considered the ‘director’ of the play, reveals the innovative stylistic features of the plot (in novom modum) since Plautus exploits in Amphitruo ‘previous material’ by combining it with the new genre of tragicomoedia. Overall, both the Aristophanic Hermēs and the Plautine Mercurius are strongly intertwined with the overall characteristics of the genre of comedy, thus they can be considered emblematic figures of comic essence.

Keywords: Ancient Greek Religion, Comedy, Hermes / Mercurius, Aristophanes (Peace, Plutus, Clouds), Plautus (Amphitryon), hilarotragedy / tragicomedy, metatheatre
Main subject category:
Language – Literature
Ancient Greek Religion,Comedy,Hermes/Mercurius,Aristophanes(Peace,Plutus,Clouds),Plautus(Amphitryon),pilarotragedy/tragicomedy,matatheatre
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