Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Aristophanes Birds Two - Why a Hoopoe?

#aristophanes #birds #greek comedy #hoopoe

So Why is a Hoopoe one of the leading Characters in the Birds?

Personal Photo of an Old Hans Hvass illustration
Since the book its in was printed in the 1960s it may or may not be public domain?

Note the Hoopoe a bird with a large reddish crest and also the subject of a play by Sophocles no longer extant.

Note the scholia by the ancients claims Aristophanes was referring to a play by Sophocles called the Tereus.

Line 93 o heracles what kind of beast is this here? and what plumage what style of triple cresting?

then Line 100  Sophocles play is mentioned and the humans ask where are your feathers.

It looks like Sophocles actor worn a costume with crested headgear and beaked mask but no feathers elsewhere 


I suspect Aristophanes had his costumiers create an exaggerated copy of this as in line 102 Terues is asked if he's a bird or peacock and Tereus explains all his feathers apart from his crest have moulted.

I wonder if Aristophanes got a hold of some moulted peacock feathers and used them in the play as part of the triple crest?

However another reason for using a Hoopoe is the Greek myth that his wife was turned into a nightingale giving us the beautiful Serenade to the Nightingale Lines 209 >>
which will be a subject for another post.

Since we normally read ancient plays we forget the playwrights were usually also the directors and were awarded for a combination of set design lyrics dances music dialogue and costume!

Next time Median birds