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Procne’s Beak in Aristophanes’ Birds

Procne’s Beak in Aristophanes’ Birds Abstract: This paper argues that the importance of the Procne scene in Aristophanes’ Birds extends well beyond any association of the nightingale with the official auletes of the production. Maintaining, contrary to some recent studies, that Procne is costumed with a beaked bird mask that is removed by Euelpides, the paper demonstrates that the removal of that mask is the final expression of an emergent mastery obtained by the human protagonists over the birds’ beaks, which are a focal point of costume interaction in the first half of the play. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Syllecta Classica Department of Classics @ the University of Iowa

Procne’s Beak in Aristophanes’ Birds

Syllecta Classica , Volume 18 – Apr 1, 2007

Procne’s Beak in Aristophanes’ Birds


: 113­128 PROCNE'S BEAK IN ARISTOPHANES' BIRDS Gwendolyn Compton-Engle Abstract: This paper argues that the importance of the Procne scene in Aristophanes' Birds extends well beyond any association of the nightingale with the official auletes of the production. Maintaining, contrary to some recent studies, that Procne is costumed with a beaked bird mask that is removed by Euelpides, the paper demonstrates that the removal of that mask is the final expression of an emergent mastery obtained by the human protagonists over the birds' beaks, which are a focal point of costume interaction in the first half of the play. Recent studies of the intriguing Procne scene in Aristophanes' Birds have focused on the relationship, or perhaps even identification, of the nightingale Procne with the production's official auletes.1 This understandable fascination with the metatheatrical possibilities inherent in the nightintgale's "singing" has allowed some of the other important functions of the scene to go unnoticed. This paper argues that the removal of Procne's beaked mask is the final gesture in the progressively more confident treatment of bird costumes by the humans throughout the first half of the play. As a female entertainer in the Aristophanic world, Procne is a prime candidate to have part of her costume stripped away. Furthermore, the incident with Procne's mask, timed immediately before the parabasis, serves as a visual marker of a crucial moment in the play's structure. The first part of the paper will be devoted to the necessary task of reviewing the problems of costume and staging in this scene in order to contend that Procne is, contrary to some recent suggestions, wearing a beaked mask that is pulled off by Euelpides. The latter part of the paper will, I hope, confirm that staging by placing it in the broader performative context of Birds, in which the stripping of Procne's beaked mask serves...
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Department of Classics @ the University of Iowa
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Copyright © The University of Iowa
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2160-5157
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Abstract

Abstract: This paper argues that the importance of the Procne scene in Aristophanes’ Birds extends well beyond any association of the nightingale with the official auletes of the production. Maintaining, contrary to some recent studies, that Procne is costumed with a beaked bird mask that is removed by Euelpides, the paper demonstrates that the removal of that mask is the final expression of an emergent mastery obtained by the human protagonists over the birds’ beaks, which are a focal point of costume interaction in the first half of the play.

Journal

Syllecta ClassicaDepartment of Classics @ the University of Iowa

Published: Apr 1, 2007

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