Lampooned in 406 B.C.E. in a blistering Aristophanic satire, Socrates was tried in 399 B.C.E. on a charge of corrupting the youth, convicted by a jury of about five hundred of his peers, and condemned to death. Glimpsed today through the extant writings of his contemporaries and near-contemporaries, he remains for us as compelling, enigmatic, and elusive a figure as Jesus or Buddha. Although present-day (like ancient Greek) opinion on "the real Socrates" diverges widely, six classic texts that any informed judgment of him must take into account appear together, for the first time, in this volume. Those of Plato and Xenophon appear in new, previously unpublished translations that combine accuracy, accessibility, and readability; that of Aristophanes' Clouds offers these same qualities in an unbowdlerized translation that captures brilliantly the bite of Aristophanes' wit. An Introduction to each text and judicious footnotes provide crucial background information and important cross-references.
The Acharnians or Acharnians is the third play — and the earliest of the eleven surviving plays — by the Athenian playwright Aristophanes. It was produced in 425 BCE on behalf of the young dramatist by an associate, Callistratus, and it won first place at the Lenaia festival. The play is notable for its absurd humour, its imaginative appeal for an end to the Peloponnesian War and for the author's spirited response to condemnations of his previous play, The Babylonians, by politicians such as Cleon, who had reviled it as a slander against the Athenian polis. In The Acharnians, Aristophanes reveals his resolve not to yield to attempts at political intimidation. Along with the other surviving plays of Aristophanes, The Acharnians is one of the few - and oldest - surviving examples of a highly satirical genre of drama known as Old Comedy.
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