Fantasy, Irony, and Economic Justice in Aristophanes' Assemblywomen and Wealth
In his final two surviving plays, Assemblywomen and Wealth, Aristophanes turns his comic art toward a consideration of the possibilities of radical economic change. His presentation of those possibilities has been read as either indulging in fantasy or as ironically reinforcing the economic status quo. This essay argues that the two plays in fact work to instill in their audience a complex and challenging sensibility that holds fantasy and irony in tension with one another. Drawing on recent arguments about the relationship and relative priority of economic redistribution and cultural recognition as political goals, I suggest that this sensibility provides an attractive model for theorists and ordinary citizens alike as they grapple with issues of economic and social justice.
c1 John Zumbrunnen is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Union College, Schenectady NY 12308 (email@example.com).