By Nancy Worman
This research of the language of insult charts abuse in classical Athenian literature that centres at the mouth and its appetites, specifically speaking, consuming, ingesting, and sexual actions. Attic comedy, Platonic discussion, and fourth-century oratory frequently set up insulting depictions of the mouth and its excesses in an effort to deride specialist audio system as sophists, demagogues, and ladies. even though the styles of images explored are very admired in historical invective and later western literary traditions, this can be the 1st booklet to debate this phenomenon in classical literature. It responds to a becoming curiosity in either abusive speech genres and the illustration of the physique, illuminating an iambic discourse that isolates the intemperate mouth as a visual logo of behaviours ridiculed within the democratic arenas of classical Athens.
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Extra info for Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens
On the comic stage or oratorical platform [b¯ema]) and its reconfiguring by iambic imagery. This is, of course, the ultimate irony of the discourse of comic drama as well as oratory: that as much as the language of abuse dismantles the body, this is also consistently countered by its reconstitution in debased or elevated form on stage. 58 The present study aims to supplement this discussion as well, by considering how the linguistic codes and conventions of these performance genres affect our understanding of the symbolic significance of the iambic body’s abused and abusive parts.
Again, Melantheus (Od. 219–28); also Eurymachus (Od. 389–93). 230–32, 479–80) and the two scenes with Melantho, the mocking servant woman who disdains beggars but sleeps with suitors. 331–33); she also threatens him in very visceral terms with physical violence. 335–36; cf. 69). Odysseus responds in kind, calling her a dog (kÅon; cf. 338–39). This conflict with a lascivious and mocking servant woman should be recognized as importantly parallel to the confrontations of the iambic poet with Iambe or other scornful female figures.
This later exchange between Odysseus and Achilles thus highlights the interaction between two uses of the mouth: ingestion and the emission of sounds, especially those of lamentation. It also connects one speech mode with eating as a social ritual and another with a vengeful, cannibalistic feeding. If Odysseus’ arguments forge a calm, well-balanced speech that matches his emphasis on commensality and bodily care, Achilles’ speeches are brutal and bitter. Their tone comports with the images of bodily destruction that serve as a macabre feast for the vengeful warrior.