By applying a Habermasian perspective to Aristophanes' comedies Birds and Ecclesiazusae, the importance of his works as a component of Athenian discourse is revealed, as well as his growing concerns about the citizenry and Athenian discourse as a whole. This project will explore the importance of speech in Aristophanic comedies, and how these comedies function in a Habermasian discourse model, particularly, the corresponding broad, community-based approach to politics. In Birds (414 BCE), Aristophanes depicts a disgruntled Athenian who flees Athens and establishes a new city with the birds, only for the same vices that drove him from Athens to follow him to his new home. After the collapse of the Athenian state at the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes' critiques become more concerned with the failings of discourse, and in Ecclesiazusae, the women of Athens employ a radical communal system, which regresses into the absurd, as the citizens cannot rid themselves of their prior self-interest. In a Habermasian framework, the problems Aristophanes emphasizes appear to be the result of an individually-focussed citizenry more so than the system in which they operate, and Aristophanes, as a comic playwright, fulfills his role as a good participant in a discourse.


Alzate, Elissa

Second Advisor

Florence, Monica


Classical Studies; Political Science


Classical Literature and Philology


habermas, aristophanes, birds, ecclesiazusae, assemblywomen

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2012 Sidney H. Helfer