Ancient satirist in a drama

Aristophanes, the ancient Athenian playwright whose raucous, priapic comedies are a staple of outdoor theaters every Greek summer, is currently starring in a drama with an all-star cast. Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Church of Greece and a known raconteur and teller of jokes, is embroiled in a very public battle with Lakis Lazopoulos, perhaps Greece's best-known current satirist. The dispute is over a decision by the mayor of Serres, a northern Greek town, to ban Lazopoulos's production of Aristophanes' «Plutus» (Wealth) from an outdoor theater adjacent to a Byzantine church, following a complaint by the local bishop. Following Lazopoulos's and Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis's protests, the archbishop noted on Thursday that Orthodox monks were responsible for saving the works of Aristophanes and other ancient writers. «But we will not put Aristophanes inside the Church. One can go see his plays in the theater,» he added. Yesterday, Lazopoulos retorted, «Humor is not only the jokes the archbishop tells, it is also Aristophanes and satire.»