NIALL W. SLATER



Literacy and Old Comedy1

Discussion of Old Comedy itself has been surprisingly absent from recent treatments of orality and literacy even in the fifth century, despite the fact that significant evidence for Athenian literacy comes from comic texts. Rosalind Thomas's recent synthetic book on the topic has three index entries for tragedy, for example, but none for comedy.2 I propose here to examine two related but not equally familiar topics: first, what is the nature of Old Comedy's evidence for literacy and literate culture in Athens in the late fifth century; and second, what picture does Old Comedy paint of its own relation to poetic tradition, or more specifically, where does Aristophanes stand (for here we must speak more narrowly) in relation to both oral and literate culture?
Old Comedy tells us of books and booksellers at least a generation before Socrates' famous mention of the book trade in the Apology (26 DE). Eupolis fr. 327 K.-A. (o't bibl' nia, 'where the books are for sale') is our earliest reference to the sale of books in Athens.3 A one-word fragment of Aristomenes (fr. 9 K.-A.), another poet who began his career before Aristophanes, gives us biblioplhw ('bookseller') from his play Sorcerors. The title characters (the chorus, to judge from the plural) were presumably frauds of some kind who were satirized in the play. It is dangerous to build much on a title, but discussion of books and booksellers in this context may be evidence for the association of books with what Thomas calls the 'non-rational' or more particularly magical uses of writing, especially in the popular mind.4
Other evidence from Aristophanes, however, is pertinent to one of the questions which most concerns Thomas, the relation of writing and literacy to democracy. Thomas, following Brian Street, broadly contrasts 'autonomous' and 'ideological' models of literacy's effects on a given society and plants herself firmly in the 'ideological' camp. She traces the autonomous model, the view that writing is a technology which automatically transforms a society, back to Marshall McLuhan---hardly a recommendation in most minds today.5 No doubt there have been far too many facile generalizations about the democratic effects of literacy. At the same time we should not neglect Aristophanic evidence that writing did transform certain kinds of activities and granted new and disturbing powers to those who had not possessed them before.
The Birds offers an interesting case in point. At 1277ff. the herald is explaining how Peisthetairus and the birds are honored and imitated by men. One example is that of the men who descend upon the shops of those who sell copies of decrees and feast on them:
Prton mn eyw pntew j enw ma
ptony' vyen sper mew p nomn:
kkeyen n katron ew t bibla:
et' n nmont' ntaya t chfsmata.
(1286-89)

First of all, when they got out of bed in the morning, right away they'd all fly together, just like us, to forage... among the laws; and then they'd swoop down together upon the bookstalls, and there browse through decrees.
(trans. Sommerstein)
The word bibla means both 'writings' and 'papyrus reeds (i.e., bird food),'6 but if we look beyond the pun we see in this passage evidence for a private trade at Athens in copies of assembly decrees. Where Thomas views the stone inscriptions put up by the assembly as the authoritative version and finds little need or use for more ephemeral copies,7 the passage in the Birds shows us that some individuals were quite willing to pay money for their own, written copies of decrees---and shows us moreover that Aristophanes was far from finding this an admirable thing.
The reason for his disdain is clear from two of the alazones we meet in the Birds, trying to make a quick buck out of the new bird city: the decree-seller and the oracle-monger. Literacy made possible a trade in the written word and accorded some power to those who bought and sold writings. The oracle-seller (xrhsmolgow) appears at line 960 to forbid the sacrifice with which Peisthetairus is attempting to inaugurate the new city of Nephelokokkyngia, citing from his book of oracles collected from Bacis and other sources. The book is the basis of his authority.8
This is not the first time we have encountered oracles (or even oracles of Bacis) in Aristophanes. Such oracles are the basis of Paphlagon's power in the Knights a decade earlier. The two slaves who may well have represented Nicias and Demosthenes in the prologue to that play steal Paphlagon's 'sacred oracle' (116) and discover the Sausage-seller is fated to overthrow Paphlagon. Literacy is not, however, really central to the action in this play. Demosthenes reads the oracle to Nicias, but this is simply exposition and tells us nothing about literacy among slaves; the same is true of the oracle contest between Paphlagon and the Sausage-seller (961ff.), where both read their oracles to Demos. Relatively little weight is laid on the written nature of these oracles.9
The treatment of the oracle-seller in Birds is rather different. Now we should not expect accurate, dispassionate reportage of Aristophanes at this point: let us grant that a key reason for him to bring on the oracle-seller, equipped with a book roll, is to set up the physical comedy that follows; nonetheless, the notion of a book and its association with oracle-sellers must be familiar enough to the audience for the joke to be intelligible. The oracle-seller is trying to horn in on the sacrifice and when challenged for his authority, tells Peisthetairus to 'Take the book' (Lab t biblon, 974; 977; 981) and (it is implied) read his proof. Not incidentally, the exchange is a plausible argument for limited literacy if not illiteracy (such as Thomas imagines10) among the average Athenians whom Peisthetairus represents. We are surely not to imagine that the scroll actually contains what the oracle-seller claims: rather, he relies on Peisthetairus' inability either to read anything at all or to read quickly enough to challenge his interpretation of the obscure oracles. Yet Peisthetairus soon inverts the power relationship by producing his own scroll and giving his own 'reading' of oracles. Of particular interest is that fact that Peisthetairus claims to have written down the oracle himself:
Odn r' moiw sy' xrhsmw tout,
n g par tpllvnow jegracmhn:
(981-82)

The oracle, I see, doesn't at all resemble this one, which I wrote down from the words of Apollo: (trans. Sommerstein)
Sommerstein (ad loc.) notes that one would often write down an oracle to ensure accurate reporting later.11 Here of course we are no longer bound by notions of character probability: the question of whether the kind of Athenian the character of Peisthetairus sometimes represents could and would regularly write is unanswerable---although Bdelycleon in Wasps and the Old Relative in Thesmophoriazusae are seen to write in their plays. The oracle-monger charges in fact that Peisthetairus is not reading what is written (Odn lgein oma se, 'I think you're making it up' 986). The issue, however, is resolved by comic violence as Peisthetairus drives the oracle-seller away, probably beating him with the scroll he has produced.
It may initially seem puzzling that the written form of oracles should be thus foregrounded and made to seem more threatening in the Birds than it does a decade earlier in the Knights. Should writing not seem more familiar and therefore less threatening as time goes on? Carol Thomas's discussion of the textualization of Greek religion may provide the necessary interpretive frame.12 The Birds passage shows a growing anxiety over this textualization: the technology of writing confers new power in the religious realm to anyone capable of writing down oracles and thus putting them into circulation, a move which broadens the pool of those with religious authority beyond the traditional religious elite.13
The decree-seller (chfismatoplhw) is another who has been empowered by, and attempts to profit from, the technology of literacy (Birds 1035ff.). He too arrives with a book, which Peisthetairus immediately identifies as something unwelcome (Tout t stin a kakn, t biblon; 'What sort of nuisance is this now, this scroll?' 1037). Like the oracle-monger, he too is quickly driven off in a farcical and fast-paced scene, but we can pause to note a few new points. The decree-seller is clearly carrying his wares in easily portable form, on papyrus, but they will be translated into stone. One line (in prose) read out by the decree-seller supports Thomas's notion that the stone set up with the decree on it might be the authoritative version: 'En d tiw jelan tow rxontaw ka m dxhtai kat tn stlhn---' (1049-50), 'and if any person expel the officers and fail to admit them according to the decree---.'14 Another very quick joke suggests that the stone versions of decrees were actually points of resistance or display of disrespect to the laws, for he asks Peisthetairus Mmnhs' te tw stlhw katetlaw spraw; (1054), 'Do you remember when you used to soil the pillar of the law, of an evening?'
The Birds is not the only play of Aristophanes in which reading and books are referred to. Far more attention has in fact usually been paid to the Frogs, where Dionysus's personal reading of Euripides' Andromeda (lines 52-54) inspires his quest to bring back the poet. Most controversially, the chorus in the play claims the jokes are intelligible to the audience because 'each one has a book' (biblon t' xvn kastow, 1114). These passages raise the issue of the extent of the reading and understanding of literature in Athenian society and so have been of most interest to literary scholars. Yet the controversies over Frogs 1114 and Aristophanes fr. 506 K.-A. from the Tagenistae (toton tn ndr' biblon difyoren / Prdikow tn dolesxn ew g tiw , 'A book has corrupted this man, / or Prodicus or some chatterer') do not prove much more than that readers of literary texts existed.15 In the case of Frogs, having a book implies a flattering level of sophistication, in the Tagenistae apparently corruption (though lacking context, we do not know whether the speaker's point of view necessarily commands audience sympathy). Someone in Cratinus's Nomoi (fr. 128 K.-A.) seems proud of his illiteracy, or at least insists that his memory makes him just as effective as a literate person.16 The Sausage-seller's minimal command of his letters in the Knights (od mousikn pstamai / pln grammtvn, ka tata mntoi kak kakw, 'I've not even had any education, except for reading and writing, and I'm proper bad at that' 188-189), of which he seems somewhat embarrassed, is according to Demosthenes the one impediment to his forthcoming political career: the irony of this joke works, of course, only if not just literacy but in fact a more sophisticated appreciation of literature (comprehended under the term mousik) are generally viewed as desirable attributes.17
Paradoxically, the evidence from Birds is the most valuable precisely because literacy itself is not the focus of the jokes.18 Peisthetairus has gone off to Cloudcuckooland to escape the life of the democratic city---and it pursues him. The various Athenian alazones arrive in order to remake the bird city in their own image, and they come equipped with the tools to do so, including literacy. While we cannot say with certainty that Aristophanes in his own political views apart from this play saw particular dangers in wide-spread literacy, the humor is energized by at least some audience fear of its effects. It is conceivable that he regards literacy as facilitating too wide a spread of access to the formulae and apparatus of power, both civic and religious. Certainly his picture of the unfortunate allies harassed by decree-sellers is not a pretty one. Still, we should be cautious before we firmly label him a conservative who saw writing itself as a dangerous tool in the wrong hands.
The issue here is not really causality: literacy did not automatically generate oracle-mongers and decree-sellers who were such a visible excess of the radical democracy. Nonetheless, the picture Aristophanes paints is one in which new and undesirable political elements gain an ascendancy in which the technology of writing is a very valuable ally.
If we turn to the impact of literacy on comedy's own history, the outlines of the story are much less clear than in the political sphere but still suggestive. Comedy ought to be one of the prime areas of investigation for oral culture and the nature of poetic composition, but Thomas again has shown how, particularly in American scholarship, the dominance of the oral-formulaic model has minimized consideration of the composition of non-formulaic poetry and its relation to poetic tradition.19 Most Old Comedy, furthermore, is not even mythic, so there is not even a narrative link back to Homer and Hesiod.
At the same time comic poetry, precisely because of its contemporary nature, would seem to be intimately linked to the oral poetic culture of its time.20 The first 'comedies,' that is komoi in honor of Dionysus, were presumably storehouses of precisely the kind of short, ephemerally popular songs which constituted the bulk of oral poetic culture at any given time. These songs, linked as they were to specific historical individuals and events, vanished from public memory when those individuals or events ceased to have cultural importance.21 The fate of politically based Aristophanic comedy after his own lifetime illustrates the point: jokes which needed an explanation outside the context of an Athenian performance were not funny and were not likely therefore to be performed, while a play relying on farcical action and parody, such as Thesmophoriazusae, might find a later audience.22
Now the question of the origins of comedy is just as confusing and controversial as that of tragedy, with which it is bound up.23 I believe that this question, however, can be largely divorced from issues of orality and literacy in the fifth century. If we confine our attention to the period of Athenian state sponsorship of comedy (beginning in 486 BC), we can still profitably examine how comedy changed in its relation to oral and literate poetic culture during the fifth century.
I suggest that we can identify a shift in the nature of comedy going on at the time Aristophanes began his career, and I will further argue that a decay in the oral culture that transmitted comic verse outside the theatre is to be identified here. The central text for my argument is Aristophanes' account of his predecessors Magnes, Crates, and Cratinus in the parabasis of the Knights:
mw te plai diagignskvn peteouw tn fsin ntaw
ka tow protrouw tn poihtn ma t gr& prodidntaw:
toto mn edw paye Mgnhw ma taw poliaw katiosaiw, 520
w plesta xorn tn ntiplvn nkhw sthse tropaa:
psaw d' mn fvnw ew ka cllvn ka pterugzvn
ka ludzvn ka chnzvn ka baptmenow batraxeiow
ok jrkesen, ll teleutn p grvw, o gr f' bhw,
jeblyh presbthw n, ti to skptein pelefyh: 525
eta Kratnou memnhmnow, w poll =esaw pot' pan
di tn feln pedvn rrei, ka tw stsevw parasrvn
frei tw drw ka tw platnouw ka tow xyrow proyelmnouw.
sai d' ok n n sumpos pln 'Dvro sukopdile',
ka 'tktonew epalmvn mnvn': otvw nyhsen kenow. 530
(518-530)

and also long ago he had recognized that your tastes are ephemeral, and that you abandoned the former generation of poets as soon as they grew old. He knew what happened to Magnes, for one, as soon as the white hairs stole upon him: Magnes who had set up so many trophies of victory over his rivals' choruses, yet though he produced every kind of sound for you, twanging the lyre, flapping wings, speaking Lydian, buzzing like a gall-fly and dyeing himself frog-green, he did not stay the course, but in the end, in his old age (never in his youth!), he was driven from the stage in his declining days because he was found wanting in satirical power. Then our poet remembered Cratinus, who once, gushing with your lavish applause, used to flow through the broad plains of artlessness, and uproot oak trees, plane trees and rivals, sweep them from their places and bear them downstream. At a party no song could be sung except 'Goddess of Bribery, figwood-shod' and 'Artificers of dexterous songs': so greatly did he flourish.
(trans. Sommerstein)
Of particular interest here is the portrait of Cratinus and the popular reception of his works. Aristophanes associates him with the last generation by placing him in the company of the long-dead Magnes and Crates (lines 537ff.), who, although he began as an actor for Cratinus and so was presumably somewhat younger, apparently was no longer composing.24 In the past then Cratinus's songs, two of which are identified by first line,25 were picked up and sung repeatedly in symposia; that is, they became part of the contemporary song culture. Aristophanes' sly point, that these are 'golden oldies' and Cratinus has not had a hit for quite some time, does not vitiate the picture of the underlying mechanism. Comedy only gradually acquired plot. Magnes' plays, for which this passage is much of our evidence, apparently had little to remember in the way of structure: rather, his animal choruses and effects were his comic trademark. Magnes won eleven victories at the City Dionysia, but we have at most only nine titles of his plays.26 Cratinus's earlier comedies may have been much closer to The Scandals of 1927 than they were Aristophanes. Success was then defined by a few hit tunes which made the rounds of the symposia.
Cratinus at the end of his career, however, was very much up to date, as the victory of his Wineflask over Aristophanes' Clouds demonstrated.27 This play even contained remarkably explicit references to the writing (not just the making or poiesis) of comedy. Though the text has been questioned, fr. 208 K-A. refers to writing about Cleisthenes in a comic episode (grf' atn / n peisod) and fr. 209 K-A. mentions writing about Hyperbolus.28 These may come from a scene showing Cratinus, the lead character in his own play, writing a comedy.29 The old poet was not as out of touch as Aristophanes claimed.30
Interestingly, we hear nothing of this for Aristophanes. While the argument from silence is always perilous, I think it can be pressed into service here. If individual songs by Aristophanes had been alluded to by his contemporary comic competitors, those lines would very likely have been picked up by the scholiastic tradition. Whatever his musical gifts, Aristophanes does not seem to have made an impression by his individual songs but rather by the whole of his plays. When the democracy wishes to hear his advice in the Frogs again, they commission a reperformance of the whole; they do not just try to encourage more singing of bits of the play.31
We must note finally, if most speculatively, the continuing relationship between oral culture and the transmission of dramatic texts in antiquity. Initially, a dramatic text was intended for a single performance at one of the city's Dionysiac festivals. The poet, acting as chorodidaskalos, taught the lines to the chorus orally, as a well-known anecdote about Euripides tells us. Although it comes from as late a source as Plutarch (de audiendo 46B), it has a ring of authenticity to it. Euripides was singing the lines of one of his odes to the choristers (w polgontow ato tow xoreutaw dhn tina pepoihmnhn f' rmonaw), when one of them laughed at his performance. Euripides rebuked the man for being so uncultured as to laugh 'when I'm singing in the Mixolydian mode' (mo mijoludist dontow).32
One would give a great deal to have explicit evidence for the interaction of poet and actor, but there is nothing. It is certainly possible in comedy that the actor contributed material and not just manner to the final performance.33 Moreover, we must also reckon with the possibility that the poet himself performed as leading actor even as late as the time of Aristophanes.34 The performance of comedy at the beginning of Aristophanes' career then, was profoundly rooted in oral culture and oral transmission of poetic texts.
Eventually, however, comedy like tragedy became a repeatable and exportable commodity in which literacy must have played an increasingly important role. At first, comic performances from the city may simply have been repeated at the celebrations of the Rural Dionysia.35 In this case, the actors who performed it in Athens could simply have taken the production on the road, although they presumably trained a local chorus. A poet could easily travel throughout Attica to train a new chorus, although the lead actor might have taken over this role. At a later point performances of comedy beyond the bounds of Attica began to take place, and it becomes increasingly unlikely that all the actors of an original Athenian production would remain together for all subsequent performances. The notion of a full text of the play in the possession of the lead actor or producer, used to teach new actors and choristers their parts, becomes ever more likely.
Here we have wandered almost completely into the realm of speculation, much of it shaped by what we know of touring players in Shakespeare's day. I alluded above to the performance of the Thesmophoriazusae which Oliver Taplin has identified on a South Italian vase. This performance could conceivably have been the equivalent of the state of affairs that lies behind the so-called 'bad quartos' of Shakespeare---or at least what we guess that to be: a single actor who has memorized not only his own part but enough of everyone else's to provide the foundation for a knock-off performance. Much more likely at this point in the early fourth century, however, is a written text in the possession of the company.
Later in the fourth century, Menander was clearly writing for the export market. Over a hundred titles of plays are securely attributed to him, yet in his roughly thirty years as a producing playwright he could only have premiered sixty of these in Athens---and even that assumes that he was allocated a slot at every festival without fail. Many of his plays then were clearly never intended for the Lenaia or City Dionysia to begin with. Menander presumably provided someone with a written text which the latter then produced, and it does not particularly matter whether that individual was an enterprising performer with an independent troupe or a festival entrepreneur at Delos or Delphi.
At this stage, the transmission of dramatic texts almost certainly relies on written texts and yet, beyond the initial point of sale, lies outside the control of the author. This is still very far from meaning, however, that drama itself is now essentially a written activity. Thomas makes the point that even when in the latter half of the fourth century Lycurgus legislates the preservation in the state archives of authorized texts of old tragedies, to which the performers in revivals must keep, the control mechanism is for the city clerk to read out the texts to the performers: the actors do not bring written texts to the archives for comparison.36 We hear nothing of state copies of comedies, although there were eventually revivals of 'old comedies.'37 These presumably relied on the texts already in the hands of the acting companies---but here our speculations must end.
Old Comedy offers us evidence both for the reaction of Athenian society to literacy and for the effects of literacy on the form and transmission of comedy itself. Aristophanes and his contemporaries give us glimpses of a society in which literacy is a new, potentially powerful, and therefore somewhat threatening entity. The comedy of the oracle-seller and the decree-monger in the Birds are clearly in part motivated by anxieties about literacy and its consequences for political power, nor would the comedy be so vigorous, were the threat not perceived to be grounded in reality. Literacy did not by any means cause the decline of Old Comedy; the oral culture of popular comic poetry and its base in the symposia seems already to have been eroding at the time of Aristophanes. The end of Old Comedy is most closely bound up with the internationalization of the genre. In search of a wider audience comedy simply abandoned its intimate relation with contemporary Athenian politics. In that internationalization, however, literate transmission of comic texts was an increasingly essential component.38

Niall W. Slater
Emory University


1Text and translation of Aristophanes are cited from Alan H. Sommerstein, The Comedies of Aristophanes (Warminster, 1980 ), comic fragments from R. Kassel and C. Austin [= K-A.], Poetae Comici Graeci (Berlin, 1984 ).

2Rosalind Thomas, Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece (Cambridge, 1992). Nor in W. V. Harris, Ancient Literacy (Cambridge, Mass., 1989), although there are more scattered references to Aristophanes.

3At least according to K. J. Dover, Aristophanes: Frogs (Oxford, 1993), 35, although since the play title is not known it could just conceivably date after Aristophanes' Birds (see below) and before Eupolis' possible death in 412. Harris, Ancient Literacy, 85 n. 92: 'Aristophanes' silence about booksellers may be significant.'

4Thomas, Literacy and Orality, ch. 5. 2, 'The Non-Rational Use of Writing,' esp. 78-84.

5Thomas, Literacy and Orality, 24ff. Cf. also her earlier book, Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 1989), 24ff.

6See Sommerstein ad 1288, pace Thomas, Literacy and Orality, 13 n. 22. Someone in Aristophanes' Banqueters fr. 226 K-A. refers to baskets full of lawsuits and heaps of decrees (chfismtvn te yvmow).

7Thomas, Literacy and Orality, 86-88, 132ff.; Thomas, Oral Tradition, 34-94.

8Cf. the second old woman at Ecclesiazusae 1050, who cites the letter of the law (tn grammtvn erhktvn) and may flourish a copy of the decree as she attempts to seize the young man.

9See R. A. Neil, The Knights of Aristophanes (Cambridge, 1909), ad 120 on purported distinctions between prose and verse oracles.

10Thomas, Literacy and Orality, 91-92 on 'phonetic literacy' (i.e., the ability to sound out written words and only comprehend the whole with difficulty) and more generally pp. 150-6 on the ways in which illiterate citizens could still participate in the democracy. One might recognize letters (e.g., Ecclesiazusae 687, Wealth 277, 972, and fr. 634 K-A.) without being able to read. Reading and writing also need not go together. The countryman of Peace 1183-4 has only to recognize his own name on his tribe's call-up list (cf. the orders posted on pinakia at Birds 450). Old Philocleon is capable of writing a graffito on a door (Wasps 99; cf. Acharnians 144); his son Bdelycleon takes notes of points to answer in his father's praise of the juryman's life (Wasps 538, 559, 576).

11Cf. Deborah Tarn Steiner, The Tyrant's Writ (Princeton, 1994) 80-1.

12See elsewhere in this volume, pp. 000-000.

13David Phillips in discussion after this paper called my attention to Isocrates 19 (Aegineticus) 5, where we learn that Polemaenetus bequeathed his books of divination to Thrasyllus. These became his capital, as it were, and allowed him to practice as a soothsayer (mantis). While divination and oracle-selling are not precisely the same, the Isocrates example illustrates the textualization and indeed commercialization of religion in the period.

14See now also the comments (pp. 44-5) on this passage by Rosalind Thomas, 'Literacy and the City-State in Archaic and Classical Greece,' in Literacy and Power in the Ancient World, ed. A. K. Bowman and G. Woolf (Cambridge, 1994), 33-50, with respect to writing as 'public display.'

15On Frogs 1114 see Dover, Frogs, 34 and Thomas, Oral Tradition, 20 and n. 19. Both incline to the explanation of L. Woodbury, 'Aristophanes' Frogs and Athenian Literacy: Ran. 52-53, 1114,' TAPA 106 (1976), 349-57; 353-6, that 'having a book' indicates a certain level of sophistication, rather than the notion that the audience brought books to the theatre performance (although cf. Dover's careful consideration of the usual range of xvn). Although Steiner, Tyrant's Writ, 209-11 detects a pattern of associating books and a somewhat anti-democratic withdrawal from public life in this and other passages of Frogs, that pattern cannot be generalized to Old Comedy as a whole.

16 ll m D' ok od' gvge grmmat' od' pstamai,
ll' p gltthw frsv soi: mnhmonev gr kalw

No, by Zeus, I can't read or write,
but I'll tell you by heart, for I remember fine.

In another fragment of Cratinus (300 K.-A.), a character swears by the kurbeis of Solon and Dracon, which are being used to roast barley: a rather startling display of disrespect for the written word! 17On mousik see Neil, Frogs, ad 189. The irascible Philocleon in Wasps 960-1 wishes a defendant had never learned his letters (grmmata), because then he could not have falsified his accounts. Cf. also the title character in Eupolis's Maricas fr. 208 K-A.

18One might speculate that there is a deeper reason for an interest in literacy in the Birds than meets the eye. Gregory Dobrov, 'The Tragic and the Comic Tereus,' AJP 114 (1993), 189-234 is a fascinating exploration of Aristophanes' transformations of the tragic figure of Tereus (as found in Sophocles) into the character we find in the Birds. He discusses (222-6) the disruptive power of literacy in the Tereus (the mute Philomela reveals her story and brings about Tereus' punishment through written signs) and makes metaphoric connections to the 'rewriting' of the story in Aristophanes. Peisthetairus must protect the bird city he has brought into being against 'rewriting' by outsiders, and this anxiety about writing may have some, perhaps unconscious connection to the role of writing in the Tereus.

19Thomas, Literacy and Orality, 40-51. She is not alone in this. It is striking that as interesting and thorough as study as C. J. Herington, Poetry in Drama: Early Tragedy and the Greek Poetic Tradition (Berkeley, 1985) investigates evidence for performance of many other poetic genres as well as tragedy---but not comedy. Non-mythic verse simply vanishes from consideration.

20J. Redondo, 'La posie populaire grecque et les Gupes d'Aristophane,' in Drama 2: Intertextualitt in der griechisch-rmischen Komdie (Stuttgart, 1993), 102-21 is a fascinating attempt to discern popular song forms behind a number of Aristophanes' verses.

21Though possibly not from private, family memory: see Thomas, Oral Tradition, 108-9 on the evidence of Plato, Lysis 205b-e for songs about ancestors kept alive in families, especially by women. Presumably, though, families tended to preserve flattering portraits rather than the personal satires we associate with comic poetry.

22Oliver Taplin, Comic Angels (Oxford, 1993), 36-41 and passim discusses the evidence for a Thesmophoriazusae performance in South Italy.

23I will simply cite the carefully considered account in Sir Arthur W. Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy, 2nd ed. rev. by T. B. L. Webster (Oxford, 1962), 132-94.

24S537 (for Crates' acting career) and Sommerstein ad loc., who suggests that his career as a dramatist spanned about 450-430. Cf. also Aristophanes fr. 347 K-A. Line 536 is nicely double edged: Cratinus is a monument who belongs in the front row as a spectator, next to the statue of Dionysus (ll yesyai liparn par t Dions). See also n. 16 (above) for attitudes about writing expressed by characters in Cratinus.

25K.-A. attribute them both to his Eumenides (fr. 70), rejecting Fabricius' conjecture of Eunidae in the scholia; Sommerstein accepts the attribution of both to Eunidae. The correction to Eunidae is tempting, since as Neil, Knights, ad 529 notes, the first song sounds very much like a parody of patriotic songs (see his cited parallels of drinking scolia), and we have Athenaeus's assertion (XV 698 C) that Cratinus' Eunidae contained parody. Tpffer even suggested that Knights 524 parodies Cratinus's fr. 71 K.-A. from Eunidae (see Neil ad loc.). Cratinus himself quotes a song of one of his predecessors, Ecphantides, an observation I owe to T. K. Hubbard, The Mask of Comedy: Aristophanes and the Intertextual Parabasis (Ithaca, 1991), 32 n. 70. Cratinus fr. 361a K-A.: eie kissoxat' naj xar', fask' Ekfantdhw, 'Hail, Bacchic lord, ivy-crowned, as Ecphantides used to say,' (= Ecphantides fr. 4 K-A.). Ecphantides immediately precedes Cratinus in the list of comic victors at the City Dionysia: IG ii2 2325. 49.

26Magnes' victories: Anon. de com. (Proleg. de com. III) 9 p. 7 and IG ii2 2325. 44 (test. 3 and 4 K.-A.); useful discussion of the inscriptional record in Pickard-Cambridge Dithyramb, 190n, who even doubts (p. 191) whether Magnes' reported fragments are genuine, but gives no arguments.

27This play may even have lived on in the performing repertoire. Taplin, Comic Angels, 43-4 speculates that a now lost vase, the so-called 'Berlin Drinker' (Taplin's fig. 8 [= fig. 510 in M. Bieber, The History of the Greek and Roman Theater (Princeton, 1961)]), might show a scene from the Wineflask, but he admits this is a 'long shot.'

28Uprbolon d' posbsaw n tow lxnoiw grcon. See PCG ad loc. for attempts to emend fr. 208 K-A.

29Malcolm Heath, 'Aristophanes and his Rivals,' G&R 37 (1990), 143-58 offers a convincing reconstruction of some of the play's action (150-1).

30Platonius (Proleg. ed com. 1.29ff. and 47ff.; see PCG IV ad loc.) even saw in his Odysseus & Co. a forerunner of Middle Comedy, because it apparently lacked personal invective (pitmhsin), although this notion says more about the teleological schemata of ancient scholarship than about Cratinus. See the proposed reconstruction of Odysseus & Co. and the critique of Platonios's claim in H-G. Nesselrath, Die attische mittlere Komdie (Berlin, 1990), 236-40; cf. Heath, 'Rivals,' 147-8.

31On the restaging, see Alan Sommerstein, 'Kleophon and the restaging of Frogs,' in Tragedy, Comedy and the Polis, ed. Alan H. Sommerstein et al. (Bari, 1993), 461-76 and Dover Frogs, 73-6. One very interesting speculation about Aristophanes' relation to popular song culture deserves mention here: B. B. Rogers, The Knights of Aristophanes (London, 1910) ad 973ff. suggests that the reason Cleon is mentioned explicitly by name in line 976 (the only time he is so named) of that play is that Aristophanes hoped this little ode deriding Cleon might be picked up and popularly sung after the performance, just as Cratinus's songs had been. It is even more speculative to read anything into Aristophanes' apparent failure, but it may suggest that in the late 420's comedy was no longer a regular source of new, detachable song 'hits.' In discussion after this paper, Ruth Scodel suggested that the 'New Music' might be a key factor, and this is indeed plausible. As B. Zimmermann shows in 'Comedy's Criticism of Music,' Drama 2 (1993): Intertextualitt in der griechisch-rmischen Komdie 1-13, Aristophanes adopted many of the features of the New Music, even as he criticized it; his songs might therefore have been much more difficult for amateur performers than the music of the previous generation.

32The word polgv is rather rare but seems clearly to mean oral performance here.

33Stephen Halliwell, 'Authorial Collaboration in the Athenian Comic Theatre,' GRBS 30 (1989) 515-28.

34See Cyril Bailey, 'Who Played Dicaeopolis?' in Greek Poetry and Life, ed. C. Bailey et al. (Oxford, 1936), and Niall W. Slater, 'Aristophanes' Apprenticeship Again,' GRBS 30 (1989), 67-82.

35One would give a great deal to be able to date this transition. On the basis of literary evidence alone, it is tempting to place it only after the Peloponnesian War; see Niall W. Slater, 'The Idea of the Actor,' in Nothing to Do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in its Social Context, edd. J.J. Winkler and F.I. Zeitlin (Princeton, 1990), esp. 394-395.

36Thomas, Literacy and Orality, 91ff. The evidence is [Plutarch] Life of Lycurgus 841F, where among his measures is recorded this: ka tw tragdaw atn n koin gracamnouw fulttein ka tn tw plevw grammata paranagignskein tow pokrinoumnoiw: ok jenai gr par' atw pokrnesyai ('[He ordered them] to keep written copies of their tragedies on file and for the city clerk to read them out to the actors; for it was not permitted to act versions deviating from these.'). While this detail (the clerk's oral dictation to the actors) does not in itself refute the notion of a bookseller's tradition of written texts, going back to the author's own copies, such as Donald Mastronarde believes in (see most recently his remarks in his edition of Euripides: Phoenissae [Cambridge, 1994], 39-40 and 40 n. 1), it does suggest the state was quite unwilling to rely upon private preservation of the text; moreover, if the state clerk dictates the text orally, it does not seem all that improbable that actors might have done so for booksellers too.

37The first epigraphic record of an old comedy produced outside the regular competition comes in 339 BC, and by 311 production of an old comedy was a regular part of the festival: see Sir A. W. Pickard-Cambridge, The Dramatic Festivals of Athens, 2nd ed. rev. by J. Gould and D. M. Lewis, reissued with supplement and corrections (Oxford, 1988), 83.

38I am grateful to an anonymous referee for a number of salutary criticisms and to the editor and original audience for advice and encouragement. None but I bears responsibility for any errors which remain.