The Kordax: Not a DC Character After All!

By: The Scribe on Thursday, April 12, 2012

Not this kind of Kordax!That’s right—Kordax of DC Comics fame, while possessing a cool name and a backstory based on pseudo-Ancient-Greek history (er, he is Atlantean, after all), was not originally a comic book character.

Oh my, the shock!

No, in fact, the term kordax refers to something completely different… something which may make you look a little differently upon Aquaman’s ancestor the next time you pick up a copy of The Atlantis Chronicles.

The kordax, in Ancient Greek history, was a dance performed by men during comedic plays, such as those written by playwright Aristophanes.

The dance itself was… less of a piece of “choreographed movement” than other Greek dances performed by choruses. Those other dances were taught to young soldiers as part of their military training in formation and strategic movement. The kordax? Well, it was more like… drunken frat party carousing.

Scholars have referred to the kordax as “lascivious”, “vulgar”, “obscene”, and “lewd”. There is some debate over whether the dance had received this kind of connotation during the 6th-century when it was performed, or whether that’s a more recent development. Either way, the depictions of the dance on Ancient Greek vases show men with certain “enhancements” in “unique” poses (Scribe’s note: We’re trying to keep this family friendly, here…) that are believed to be artistic depictions of the men in costume and performing the kordax.

Possible kordax dancers on a Corinthian vase.There are also some who believe the kordax was a masked solo performance, which makes it very unlike the large-group chorus dances performed during tragedies and other plays. From what scholars can interpret based on artistic and written information, it was a vigorous, acrobatic dance that relied mostly on leg movements, with padding placed around the belly and buttocks (ie. the “enhancements” previously mentioned…).

It’s thought to have originated as a fertility dance, which makes an odd sort of sense, considering the ties of comedy to Dionysus, drinking, and grapes (which were all symbolic of fertility in one way or another).

And while we don’t have Ancient Greek YouTube videos to show us exactly how the dance was done, at least we have DC Comics, who likely didn’t expect anyone to put the originally meaning of “kordax” together with their character’s name… talk about an awkward moment, hmm?


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