And there can be no denying that boorishness, lubricity, slapstick, innuendo and scatological humour feature throughout the Aristophanic canon.
However, this ‘low’ humour is complemented by political satire and parody, witty one-liners, puns of all calibre, surrealism and farce.
This is reinforced at the end of the text, when everyone has fallen asleep except Socrates, Agathon and Aristophanes, who are still drinking as the sun rises.
For example, in The Frogs, he portrays Dionysus as lazy, cowardly and generally useless… during a festival held in the god’s honour!
Much like the eclectic Athenian audience then, a modern reader gets more from Aristophanes’ comedies with a greater knowledge of Greek history and culture. That said, it would be boggling to imagine anybody would have to plod through the text, laboriously wrenching the jokes from the page.
“Reading Aristophanes we fall under the spell of this illusion [of personal participation]: we sit among his audience, indistinguishable from the rest; we laugh when they laugh, are moved when they are moved, hardly conscious that we sometimes have no idea what it is all about.”