Aristophanes - Comedies of Aristophanes
Plays by Aristophanes
Aristophanes was born about 447 B.C. and produced his first comedy about 20 years later. This play Daitaleis (The Banqueters) is lost, except for fragments suggesting the objects of its satire were educational and moral theories. Here are brief descriptions of the remaining comedies of Aristophanes, our only surviving writer of Greek Old Comedy.
Greek Theater Study Guide
The origins of Greek drama are debated and may never be known for sure, but it is thought that they developed out of a form of ritual worship that involved a chorus of men, possibly dressed as horses, connected with the vegetation god Dionysus.
Aristophanes was a Greek writer of old comedy who is known for his plays about current events, including the war between Athens and Sparta, and Socrates.
Summary of the play. Undeterred by the anger of the Acharnians, who crave vengeance for the destruction of their vineyards, an honest citizen, named Dicaeopolis, enraged at the false pretexts for continuing the war with Sparta, sends an embassy to Lacedaemon and concludes a separate peace for himself and his family.
Read Aristophanes' eleven extant comedies Acharnians, Knights, Clouds, Wasps, Peace, Birds, Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Frogs, and Plutus, online.
In The Birds, new gods are created in the image of birds, just as mankind conceived theirs as human beings. The old gods send as embassy Hercules, Neptune and a Thracian god who cannot talk Greek in correct fashion, but discourses in gibberish.
The Birds Notes on The Birds, by Aristophanes
Peter Meineck describes the political setting for the original Birds which was performed at the City Dionysia in 414. Athenian politics drive the comedy's hero out of the city and to the more blissful land of the birds.
Roger Dunkle provides notes on the production of Aristophanes' The Clouds, the portrait of Socrates, and study guide questions.
John Porter discusses The Clouds which he describes as unusual because it is a rewrite of the version performed and because it requires five actors.
The Frogs is about decline in dramatic art. Only second-rate tragedians remain. Bacchus misses Euripides, and wishes to bring him back from the underworld where Euripides is contending with Aeschylus for the tragic throne.
In The Knights Aristophanes attacks public opinion which favored the demagogue Cleon. In real life only the knights and people of Aristophanes' faction opposed Cleon.
Thesmophoriazusae, or A Women's Festival
Misogynistic Euripides is accused and sentenced to punishment at the women-only festival of the Thesmophoria.
In The Wasps, the father, Philocleon, who supports Cleon, has surrendered the management of his affairs to his son Bdelucleon, who shares with Aristophanes dislike of Cleon.