The Birds is a comedy by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It was performed in 414 BC at the City Dionysia where it won second prize. It has been acclaimed by modern critics as a perfectly realized fantasy remarkable for its mimicry of birds and for the gaiety of its songs. Unlike the author's other early plays, it includes no direct mention of the Peloponnesian War and there are few references to Athenian politics, and yet it was staged not long after the commencement of the Sicilian Expedition, an ambitious military campaign that had greatly increased Athenian commitment to the war effort. In spite of that, the play has many indirect references to Athenian political and social life. It is the longest of Aristophanes' surviving plays and yet it is a fairly conventional example of Old Comedy.
This is an English translation of Aristophanes' famous comedy, Clouds, noted for its critique of philosophy, society and education. It includes essays on Old Comedy and the Theater of Dionysus, suggestions for further reading, notes on production, and a map. Focus Classical Library provides close translations with notes and essays to provide access to understanding Greek culture.
Today, we tend to picture ancient Greece as a land of togas, lyres and plenty of philosophical pondering -- but even back then, people were annoyed with the likes of Socrates, Plato and other intellectual blowhards. Brilliant playwright Aristophanes mercilessly skewers pretentious intellectuals in his comic masterwork The Clouds.
Aristophanes (/ˌærɨˈstɒfəniːz/ or /ˌɛrɨˈstɒfəniːz/; Greek: Ἀριστοφάνης, pronounced [aristophánɛːs]; c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaeum, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his thirty plays survive virtually complete. These, together with fragments of some of his other plays, provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy, and they are used to define the genre. Also known as the Father of Comedy and the Prince of Ancient Comedy, Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author. His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries; Plato singled out Aristophanes' play The Clouds as slander that contributed to the trial and subsequent condemning to death of Socrates although other satirical playwrights had also caricatured the philosopher. His second play, The Babylonians (now lost), was denounced by the demagogue Cleon as a slander against the Athenian polis. It is possible that the case was argued in court but details of the trial are not recorded and Aristophanes caricatured Cleon mercilessly in his subsequent plays, especially The Knights, the first of many plays that he directed himself. "In my opinion," he says through the Chorus in that play, "the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all." (κωμῳδοδιδασκαλίαν εἶναι χαλεπώτατον ἔργον ἁπάντων) (font: Wikipedia)
A poet who hated an age of decadence, armed conflict, and departure from tradition, Aristophanes' comic genius influenced the political and social order of his own fifth-century Athens. But as Moses Hadas writes in his introduction to this volume, 'His true claim upon our attention is as the most brilliant and artistic and thoughtful wit our world has known.' Includes The Acharnians, The Birds, The Clouds, Ecclesiazusae, The Frogs, The Knights, Lysistrata, Peace, Plutus, Thesmophoriazusae, and The Wasps.
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