n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - 'Doro fig-sandaled' (Cratin. Fr. 70 Kassel-Austin And Aristoph. 529) and other aspects of comic

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The study of in Classical Athens of the 5th and 4th centuries BC reveals striking similarities to the occurrence of corruption and blackmail in contemporary democratic systems. In an important article, Italo Calvino defined Italy as 'a country that is held up by crime' where everybody embezzles public money and then creates an interior personal ethic to justify the corruption. In Calvino's view, it is typical of democratic systems to form manifold centres of power which require enormous flows of money to sustain the democracies themselves and the politicians who represent them. Democratic Athens of the 5th and 4th centuries BC appears to have been no exception. The phenomenon of corruption seems to have permeated every sector of the economy and politics. We know that during the 4th century BC many generals were charged with embezzlement, and that magistrates, politicians and other public figures were not exempt. The situation was reflected in the comic theatre of the times, in particular the comedies of Aristophanes. Comic texts also refer to a collateral effect of widespread corruption, namely that of συκοφαντία, or 'accusation'. This article investigates Cratinus' 'Doro fig-sandaled' as the first figure in which the two aspects of corruption and accusation became combined.


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