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...ask the reader to imagine a dramatic combination of the slapstick of The Three Stooges, the song and dance of a Broadway musical, the verbal wit of W. S. Gilbert or of a television show like Frasier, the exuberance of Mardi Gras, the open-ended plot line of the Simpsons, the parody of a Mel Brooks' movie, the political satire of Doonesbury, the outrageous sexuality of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien wrapped up in the format of a Monty Python movie. Ian Storey (Canada's Trent University) about Old Comedy of Aristophanes

The comedy writer Aristophanes

Aristophanes (Αριστοφάνης) (c. 446 BC - c. 385 BC) was a Greek comic poet. He wrote at least 30 (54 to some) plays, 11 of which still survive, and his plays are the only surviving examples of Greek Old Comedy. The comedies of the Athenian playwright Aristophanes are a bit like our cabaret, full of jokes about actuality and politicians (especially Cleon), and parodies of contemporary literature (Euripides and Herodotus are among Aristophanes' victims). The jokes are not very subtle. Usually, someone comes up with a crazy plan (a private peace treaty, curing the blindness of the god of wealth...), and after some complications there is a happy ending with a nice dinner. In The Clouds, the philosopher Socrates is radicalized. In The Frogs, Euripides and Aeschylus are debating who is the better poet. It is the time when Euripides and Aeschylus are dead. Dionysius is very sad and decides to go to Hades to bring back to life one of the artists. It is the world's oldest piece of literary criticism. Lysistrata was written during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta and presents a pacifist theme in a comical manner: the women of the two states deprive their husbands of sex until they stop fighting.

Aristophanes Wasps and the Dodona Theater.


  • 427 Thetalis (his first play lost)
  • 426 Babylonians (lost). Cleon lawsuits Aristophanes, with the accusation that by that play ridicules the elective rulers of the city to the audience, and among them a lot of foreign visitors, in Grant Dionysia. The suit didn't seem to have any consequence for him.
  • 425 Acharnes (The Acharnians, Info). First prize in Lenea
  • 424 Heppeas (The Knights). First prize in Lenea
  • 423 Nefeles (Clouds). (Parody of Socrates) First form (lost) that won the third and last prize in Grand Dionysia. Peace settlement, temporarily stops the hostilities between Athens and Sparta. Comments, Questions , Are the Clouds of Aristophanes the origin of academic life?
  • 422 Sfikes (The Wasps), second prize in Lenea.
  • 421 Peace, second-best prize in Grand Dionysia. Summary (the date of his death mentioned as 358 BC is a typing error)
  • 417 Nefeles (The Clouds), partially revised form (saved) that never staged in ancient years.
  • 414 Amfiaraos (lost) in Lenea. Ornithes (The Birds), second prize in Grand Dionysia.
  • 411 Lysistrata in Lenea, Questions, Comments Thesmophoriazousae in Grand Dionysia.
  • 408 Ploutos (lost), it's not the play that staged later.
  • 406 Euripides & Sophocles death.
  • 405 Vatrahee ( The Frogs, Info), 1st prize in Lenea.
  • 392 Ecclesiazusae (the chronology is based mostly upon internal criterions and probably throw off a year.)
  • 380 Ploutos (saved) Comments
  • After 388: Heolosikon (lost) and Kokalos (lost). Producer and director was one of poet sons.
  • From Aharnes we make the conclusion that at the time this play was staged, Aristophanes lived in Aegina, the island the Athenians had colonized in 431 BC when they threw out the old dwellers (as philolaconists). We know that his sons where comedy writers but we know nothing for his father (Phillipos his name) nor for his social or economic status.

Perseus Lookup Text

MODERN GREEK Translations


Who brings owls to Athens? Aristophanes Birds (an expression for something totally unnecessary )

CLEONICE But how should women perform so wise and glorious an achievement, we women who dwell in the retirement of the household, clad in diaphanous garments of yellow silk and long flowing gowns,decked out with flowers and shod with dainty little slippers?
LYSISTRATA Ah, but those are the very sheet-anchors of our salvation-those yellow tunics, those scents and slippers, those cosmetics and transparent robes.

The Ornithology of The Birds of Aristophanes , Vase painting: scene from Aristophanes' Birds.

Lysistrata, By Aristophanes and Pablo Picasso , Lysistrata 3000 AD , LYSISTRATA'S WAR A Rock Opera

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