Aristophanes biography notes

See Article History Aristophanes, born c.

Aristophanes biography notes

The Frogs bce Overview Aristophanes was the greatest writer of Old Comedy in Athens in the fifth century bce and the only playwright from that era with any complete plays surviving. Old Comedy was a form of drama that has no parallel in subsequent European literature.

It was a mixture of fantasy, political and personal satire, farce, obscenity, and, in the case of Aristophanes at least, delightful lyric poetry.

Although he used the language brilliantly, Aristophanes was above all an inspired creator of bizarre fantasy worlds that defy fundamental laws of rationality and logic.

He paid little attention to consistency of time, place, or character and was not very interested in the logical development of a dramatic plot. He brought to his art a command of every kind of comedy, from slapstick to intellectual farce. Parody was one of his specialities, and he had a devastating way of deflating pomposity in politics, social life, and literature.

Works in Biographical and Historical Context Equal-Opportunity Satirist Knowledge of Aristophanes is confined almost entirely to his career as a dramatist. It is believed that he was born in Athens, Greece, in c. Little is known about his family except that it was not a poor one. He had an excellent education and was well versed in literature, especially poetry, and above all Homer and the great Athenian tragic dramatists.

In addition, he was well acquainted with Aristophanes biography notes latest philosophical theories. All of Aristophanes' boyhood was spent in the Periclean Age, an interlude of peace between and When the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta broke out inAristophanes was still a youth.

What part he played in the war is not known, but he probably saw some active service before it finally ended in Already famous as a young man, Aristophanes used the power of comedy throughout his long career to ridicule and deplore the shortcomings of his society.

Because of Aristophanes' open sympathy toward the land-owning aristocracy, he opposed a war that spelled the destruction of agriculture, so some scholars have seen the poet as a political reactionary. It is true that Aristophanes never tired of heaping abuse on the rulers of Athens, but his comic world view kept him from partisanship of any kind.

He was an equal-opportunity satirist, and one politician was just as good a target for ridicule as any other. An Unprecedented Honor Aristophanes' career as a dramatist started in bce when he put on a play, now lost, called The Banqueters.

A year later he brought out another play, which has not survived, The Babylonians, that politically criticized Athens's imperial policies. As a result, Cleon—who eventually ruled Athens and represented the will of the city's powerful merchant class—hauled the author before the council, apparently on a charge of treason.

No action was taken against Aristophanes. After the Peloponnesian War situation gradually worsened, and in the winter of —, a generation of other great classical writers was dying.

Euripides died in Macedonia, to be followed in less than a year by his great rival Sophocles. Aristophanes clearly felt that the great days of tragedy were over, and in The Frogs bcehe showed Dionysus, the patron god of drama, going down to the underworld to bring Euripides back from the dead. When after many ludicrous adventures the god finally arrives in Hades, he acts as referee in a long poetic dispute between Euripides and Aeschylus, which contains much delightful comedy but also some serious criticism.

After its debut, the play was given the honor of a second performance—something unheard-of at the time. The End of War and After The Athenians eventually lost their war with Sparta, having been starved into surrender in the spring of This defeat broke the spirit of many Athenians, including Aristophanes.

Thereafter, the author's patriotism was colored with a nostalgic attachment to the ideal of Greek unity from earlier heroic times. Though Athenians soon regained considerable importance in both politics and intellectual life, they were never quite the same again.

In the sphere of comedy the uninhibited boisterousness of the Old Comedy disappeared, replaced by a form that was less imaginative and spirited and more cautious and reasonable. Aristophanes continued to write plays after the end of the war.

Of them, Women in Parliament, a skit about equality in marriage and in ownership of property—included ideas later put forward by Plato in his Republic.

Aristophanes lived for nearly twenty years after the war. One of his three sons, Araros, became a minor comic dramatist. Works in Literary Context Criticism of Politics and War The principal themes of Aristophanes' comedies reflect the poet's profound dissatisfaction with the political reality of Athens.

For example, in The Acharnians, Aristophanes' first play, an Athenian peasant excludes himself from the Peloponnesian War by obtaining a separate truce from Sparta.The Knights (), with Aristophanes himself acting as Cleon, is a controversial and unapologetic attack of the demagogue Cleon.

The Clouds () critical of the Sophists, contains the famous scene of the Just and the Unjust argument, the cloud-maidens representative of metaphysical meanderings.

Aristophanes biography notes

Plays in the time of Aristophanes were put on at two festivals, in the City Dionysia and the Lenaea. There were also plays at local festivals, but little is known about them. Aristophanes was the greatest of the writers of the original Greek comedy, which flourished in Athens in the fifth century B.C.E., and the only one with any complete plays wrote at least thirty-six comedies, of which eleven still exist.

Aristophanes was a prolific and much acclaimed comic playwright of ancient Greece, sometimes referred to as the Father of Comedy. Eleven of his forty plays have come down to us virtually complete (along with up to with 1, brief fragments of other works), and are the only real examples we have of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy.

Aristophanes is the best known of a group of poets who produced what is termed Old Comedy. This was a carnivalesque form, with its origins in .

Notes † Although many artists' renderings of Aristophanes portray him with flowing curly hair, several jests in his plays indicate that he may have been prematurely bald.

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