"Aristophanes and De Ste. Croix: The value of old comedy as evidence for Athenian popular culture"
De Ste. Croix famously argued that Aristophanes had a conservative political outlook and attempted to use his comedies to win over lower-class audiences to this minority point of view. The ongoing influence of his interpretation has meant that old comedy has been largely ignored in the historiography of Athenian popular culture. This article extends earlier critiques of de Ste. Croix by systematically comparing how Aristophanes and the indisputably popular genre of fourth-century oratory represented the social classes of the Athenians and political leaders. The striking parallels between the two suggest that Aristophanes, far from advocating a minority position, exploited the rich and, at times, contradictory views of lower-class citizens for comic and ultimately competitive ends. As a consequence his plays are valuable evidence for Athenian popular culture and help to correct the markedly fourth-century bias in the writing of Athenian cultural history.