By Nancy Worman

This research of the language of insult charts abuse in classical Athenian literature that centres at the mouth and its appetites, particularly conversing, consuming, ingesting, and sexual actions. Attic comedy, Platonic discussion, and fourth-century oratory usually install insulting depictions of the mouth and its excesses so as to deride expert audio system as sophists, demagogues, and ladies. even though the styles of images explored are very favourite in old invective and later western literary traditions, this is often the 1st publication to debate this phenomenon in classical literature. It responds to a starting to be curiosity in either abusive speech genres and the illustration of the physique, illuminating an iambic discourse that isolates the intemperate mouth as a visual brand of behaviours ridiculed within the democratic arenas of classical Athens.

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Extra resources for Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens

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Most of these iambic portraits, however, reference oral activities as a central means of mocking putatively brutal demagogues or craven sophists and opposing them to an idealized notion of the Athenian citizen. The recognition that the voice can be capitalized on for mercenary ends, or that the mouth can be used for less honorable activities than powerful speaking, reveals the kind of debasement and servitude most open to ridicule in a community that prided itself on its freedom of speech (parr¯esia).

Bowie 1986; also Bartol 1993: 51–74; Ford 2002: 25–39. Cf. Sa¨ıd 1979; Nagy 1979: 225–35; Steinr¨uck 2000; Steiner 2001b, 2002. Cf. Seaford 1994: 281–301. Introduction 21 its imagery and vocabulary turn up in fourth-century rhetorical settings, even though the more obscene plays that contributed important elements to the discourse were no longer being performed. This suggests that the lexical and imagistic schemes had entered the common idiom, since otherwise audiences would not respond to such schemes and writers have no use for them.

1389b4–11), loquacity and querulousness with old men (1390a9–10, 22–24). While Theophrastus’ Characters records the distinct behaviors of private citizens, it also delineates some types as weak and chattering and others as aggressive and loud. The idle chatterer engages in talk that is so copious and insistently pointless that he is impossible either to engage or to avoid. 2) and drink his wine too strong, both of which suggest a different kind of oral excess. In their focus on the average citizen, Theophrastus’ sketches also pursue the trajectory initiated by Plato’s Socrates, who so frequently positions himself as a private, pedestrian sort up against the polished verbiage of the professional speaker.

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