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Costume’s Comic and Intertextual Potential: The Case of Philocleon’s Cloak

Wyles, Rosie (2020) Costume’s Comic and Intertextual Potential: The Case of Philocleon’s Cloak. Illinois Classical Studies, 45 (2). pp. 287-309. ISSN 0363-1923. (doi:10.5406/illiclasstud.45.2.0287) (KAR id:63947)


This article argues that Philocleon's enforced costume change in Aristophanes’ Wasps (1122f), from a threadbare cloak (tribon) to a luxury 'Persian' one (kaunakes), forms an integral part of the ongoing competition between the comic and tragic genre in the play. Despite the importance of this pivotal scene in the comedy, it has only recently begun to receive the attention it deserves, with the emergence of studies by Gwendolyn Compton-Engle, Mario Telò, and Alexa Piqueux. Compton-Engle asserts the dressing scene’s importance as an expression of the play’s themes, Telò examines its bearing on Aristophanes’ self-definition (especially in relation to the defeat of Clouds and his comic rivals), and Piqueux explores its perspective on social mobility. In this chapter, I hope to make a further contribution to these discussions through the consideration of the previously overlooked allusion to Aeschylus' Oresteia in this play and through reflecting on the interpretative implications of relevant costume changes in Aristophanes' Acharnians and Knights. In broader terms, if it is accepted that Wasps engages with tragedy’s manipulation of costume as well as Aristophanes’ own previous treatment of it, then this discussion highlights Wasps’ importance as evidence for the on-going significance of costume in Aristophanes' dialectic with tragedy and in his discourse on theatre in general.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.5406/illiclasstud.45.2.0287
Uncontrolled keywords: Drama, costume, Athens, comedy, Aristophanes, genre, competition, metatheatre, tragedy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Rosie Wyles
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2017 09:48 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2023 15:26 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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