MINI PAPER – DYSKOLOS BY MENANDER

PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY – I tried having someone else do it and they just were not getting the point even after 3 tries! – please have experience in this – The play is on the file attached – it starts on page 112 to 146 (or page 33 to 67 of PDF FILE NUMBERS) the stuff before his the author explaining stuff to help understand the play written by Menander! this is a very informal paper, only use the text provided! single-spaced and about 1.5 pages ! not a lot of detail needed but still needs to be decent quality!

Although Menander is typically studied for what he can tell us about either Aristophanes or Roman Comedy, he is, in many ways an interesting author in his own right. To understand what is ‘interesting’ about him though, often requires an understanding of a set of genre conventions which we no longer have. In particular, Menander seems to be interested in the depiction and portrayal of ‘stock characters’ — broad stereotypes (such as the ‘young virgin, the braggart soldier, or the miserly old man) which could be used in many different contexts. For Menander though, the genius of his portrayal is often in how he subverts your stereotypical association of that character.

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So, for this mini paper, I am going to be giving you two of the most notable ‘stock character’ types which appear in New and Roman comedy.
***For each you are going to give me three quick pieces of evidence (ie. find a line, cite it, and explain in no more than 2 sentences what it tells you)–
*** two citations which ‘prove’ the stereotype and one which ‘subverts’ it.
***Having done so, choose one of the characters and write a conclusion of two to three sentences about what the ‘point’ of subverting this character might be (I will give you a hint: most scholars see the ‘point’ as a type of moral or lesson).

Character Type 1: The “Clever Slave” (the callidus servus). This character is generally a slave of the main character in the play and, as their name suggests, is clearly the most clever person despite their low social station — a cleverness that often surfaces in insults or by having them make a fool out of everyone else. In general, they are the primary actors of the plot, carrying out and enacting, through their schemes, whatever contrived goal their master has (often romantic)… but generally doing so in a way which also brings about the slave’s own goal (frequently his or her freedom).

Character Type 2: The “Surly Old Man” (this is taken from Theophrastus’ “Characters”: ”
Surliness is discourtesy in words. The Surly man is one who, when asked where so-and-so is, will say, ‘Don’t bother me’; or, when spoken to, will not reply. If he has anything for sale, instead of informing the buyers at what price he is prepared to sell it, he will ask them what he is to get for it. Those who send him presents with their compliments at feast-tide are told that he ‘will not touch’ their offerings. He cannot forgive a person who has besmirched him by accident, or pushed him, or trodden upon his foot. Then, if a friend asks him for a subscription, he will say that he cannot give one; but will come with it by and by, and remark that he is losing this money also. When he stumbles in the street he is apt to swear at the stone. He will not endure to wait long for anyone; nor will he consent to sing, or to recite, or to dance. He is apt also not to pray to the gods.”

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