Xanthias refers to several characters, notably all slaves, [ [http://www.sparknotes.com/drama/theclouds/terms/char_10.html Xanthias ] ] who appear in plays by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes.

In "The Frogs", Xanthias is the slave of Dionysus. He delivers the opening line of the play, riding on Dionysus' donkey and debating with Dionysus about what jokes Xanthias can make. He and Dionysus trade barbs throughout the play, with Xanthias generally coming out on top. When they cross the Acheron, Xanthias is forced to carry the luggage around the lake because he was unable to participate in the Battle of Arginusae, allegedly due to pinkeye. In the underworld, Xanthias is forced by Dionysus to trade attire three times, to comedic effect - when Dionysus is dressed as Heracles, he is threatened by Aeacus, the hostess, and an ornery maid, while Xanthias as Heracles is welcomed joyfully by a nice maid. Xanthias also manages to trick Aeacus into whipping both him and Dionysus to avoid having monsters set upon him. Once the confusion about master and slave is sorted out, Xanthias flirts with the nice maid, discussing ways they secretly rebel against their masters.


Xanthias of "The Frogs" defies the convention of slaves introduced in earlier works by Aristophanes. In "The Knights", "Wasps", and "Peace", slaves fulfill two functions - they introduce the situation at the beginning of the play and they provide comedic relief by being threatened or frightened. [Dover, Kenneth, ed. Frogs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. Questia. 3 Dec. 2007 http://www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=91394614.] However, in "The Frogs", Xanthias begins by debating with his master about what kind of joke he can tell to initiate the play. Aristophanes uses their banter to blast the low level of humor used by contemporaries, referencing Phrynichus, Lykis, and Ameipsias. Aristophanes represents Xanthias as braver and cleverer than Dionysus, as he illustrates during the Empousa scare and by Xanthias tricking Aeacus into whipping both of them to differentiate between master and servant. Xanthias is clearly dominant during the latter situation, as Dionysus pleads and whines to let Xanthias change clothes with him. Despite Xanthias' superiority, however, Dover cautions against an interpretation that Aristophanes supported emancipation - he points out that Aristophanes' audience may quite possibly have seen little more in Xanthias' dominance than a confirmation of the impudence of the servant class, and the comedy of the situation can arise from a reversal of roles, similar to the comedy evoked in Aristophanes' "Lysistrata" and "Ecclesiazusae" with respect to women. [Dover, Kenneth, ed. Frogs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. Questia. 3 Dec. 2007 http://www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=91394614.]

Other appearances

*"The Clouds", as Strepsiades' slave
*a slave in "The Birds"
*slave ordered to hold phallus upright in "The Acharnians" [ "Names and Naming in Aristophanic Comedy" S. Douglas Olson. The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 42, No. 2. (1992), pp. 309. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0009-8388%281992%292%3A42%3A2%3C304%3ANANIAC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-T ]


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  • Ξανθίαι — Ξανθίας Xanthias masc nom/voc pl Ξανθίᾱͅ , Ξανθίας Xanthias masc dat sg (attic doric aeolic) Ξανθίης masc nom/voc pl Ξανθίᾱͅ , Ξανθίης masc dat sg (attic doric aeolic) …   Greek morphological index (Ελληνική μορφολογικούς δείκτες)

  • Ξανθίαν — Ξανθίᾱν , Ξανθίας Xanthias masc acc sg (attic epic doric aeolic) Ξανθίας Xanthias masc acc sg Ξανθίᾱν , Ξανθίης masc acc sg (attic epic doric aeolic) Ξανθίης masc acc sg …   Greek morphological index (Ελληνική μορφολογικούς δείκτες)