Η αγγλόφωνη ομιλία που ακολουθεί εκφωνήθηκε στο πλαίσιο του συνεδρίου «Addressing Matters in Context«, που έλαβε χώρα στο Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου στις 27-29 Αυγούστου 2015. Ευχαριστώ τους διοργανωτές (Κυριάκο Δημητρίου, Σοφία Παπαϊωάννου, Ανδρέα Σεραφείμ) για την πρόσκληση και για τη βιντεογράφηση των ομιλιών.
Ιδού η περίληψη της ομιλίας:
Knemon, the titular δύσκολος (‘cantankerous man’) of Menander’s play, is a peculiar case of misanthrope, insomuch as he abandons two fundamental traits of most literary man-haters. First, he contradicts their adamant refusal to procreate and thus to propagate the despicable human race (by generic imperative Knemon marries and fathers a daughter, even if he abandons his wife and practically leaves his child to her fate). Second, he refrains from a beloved habit of regular misanthropes, namely to vent angry — and, as a rule, fairly articulate — tirades at humanity every chance he gets. Knemon “has never spoken to anyone in his life, if he could help it”. All his utterances in the play prior to his extended apologia pro vita sua, are either short, irate snaps and snarls or essentially monologues; that is, speech acts that fail to fulfill the misanthropic tirade’s fundamental purpose, to ‘bite’ the listeners — for example, his diatribe against Athenian sacrificial habits, the single exception to his “no speaking rule” and his longest rhēsis prior to the apologia. Practically the whole play passes without the audience really understanding much about Knemon and the reasons behind his character and life’s choices. All we have is a web of interpretations, one more damning than the other, woven by characters around him. So what should one expect when this man, who shuns public exposure and eschews any kind of speech, let alone the ‘urban’ (as opposed to ‘country’) practice of oratory, finds himself in need to employ persuasive rhetoric, in order to defend his modus vivendi and convince his family to let him be? This paper examines the ironies produced by Knemon’s speech in Act IV of Menander’s Dyskolos addressing them in the semantic context of the play at large.
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