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Aristophanes Aristophanes Biography Born: c. 448 B.C.E. Athens, Greece Died: c. 385 B.C.E.

Athens, Greece Greek writer 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 surviving. He wrote at least 40 comedies, of which 11 still exist.

His life Aristophanes was born in Athens between 450 and 445 B.C.E. into a wealthy family. He had an excellent education and was well versed in literature, especially the poetry of Homer (eighth century B.C.E. ) and other great Athenian writers. His writings also suggest a strong knowledge of the latest philosophical theories His father Philippus was a land owner of Aegina He has three sons-Philippus( the eldest), Araros, and Nicostratus(the youngest)were all comic poets Between ages seventeen and twenty-three Aristophanes Began submitting His comedies for annual Athens Competition . Between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three Aristophanes began submitting his comedies for the annual Athens competition. His easy humor and good choice of words made most laugh and at least one politician take him to court. Whatever punishment resulted was mild enough to allow Aristophanes to continue his clever remarks at the leader's expense in his forthcoming comedies. Some people call Aristophanes the Father of Comedy in a reference to the fact that the plays of Aristophanes are the only surviving complete example of Old Comedy

His plays

The comedy originated from the same source as tragedy- the celebration in Honor of Dionysus Dionysus- the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and in Greek mythology Many students of ancient Greece read the plays of Aristophanes to learn more about the ancient tradition of Greek Drama and historical conditions in Athens during the period in which Aristophanes lived.

(1.) 425 B.C. The Acharnians The earlist of the eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes It was written in the 6th year of the Peloponnesian War and coincidentally, happens to be the Worlds First anti-war comedy It was produced in 425 BCE on behalf of the young Dramatist by an associate , Callistratus It won first place at the Lenaia Festival The play is notable for its absurd humour , its imaginative ppeal for the end to the Peloponnesian war

Short summary: The protagonist, Dikaiopolis, miraculously obtains a private peace treaty with The Spartans and he enjoys the benefits of peace in spite of opposition from some of his fellow Athenians. (2.) 424 B.C. The Knights. The second of the eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes The play is a satire on the social and political life of classicalAthens during the Peloponnesian War It won first place at the Lenaia Festival

Short Summary The Dmos, or State, is represented by an old man who has put himself and his household into the hands of a rascally Paphlagonian steward. Nicias and Demosthenes, slaves of Dmos, contrive that the Paphlagonian shall be supplanted in their masters favour by a sausage-seller. No sooner has Dmos has been thus rescued than this youthfulness and his good sense return together

(3.) 423 B.C. The Clouds (the first edition; a second edition was brought out in 422 B.C The third of the eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes It was originally produced at the City of Dionysia in 423 BC and it was not well received , coming last of the three plays competing at the festival that year. He turns his attention to the great thinker of the day- Socrates

Short summary: Faced with legal action for non-payment of debts, Strepsiades, an elderly Athenian, enrolls his son in The Thinkery (the "Phrontisterion") so that he might learn the rhetorical skills necessary to defeat their creditors in court. The son thereby learns cynical disrespect for social mores and contempt for authority and he subsequently beats his father up during a domestic argument, in return for which Strepsiades sets The Thinkery on fire. (4.) 422 B.C. The Wasps the fourth in chronological order of the eleven surviving plays by Aristophanes, the master of an ancient genre of drama called 'Old Comedy'. It was produced at the Lenaia festival in 422 BC, a time when Athens was enjoying a brief respite from The Peloponnesian War following a one year truce with Sparta. it has been considered to be one of the world's greatest comedies. Aristophanes pokes satirical fun at the demagogue Cleon but in The Wasps he also ridicules one of the Athenian institutions that provided Cleon with his powerbase: the law courts. The Wasp is an attack on the partisan corruption of the law courts

(5.) 421 B.C. The Peace is an Athenian Old Comedy written and produced by the Greek playwright Aristophanes. It won second prize at the City Dionysia where it was staged just a few days before the ratification of the Peace of Nicias (421 BC), which promised to end the ten year old Peloponnesian War. The play is notable for its joyous anticipation of peace and for its celebration of a return to an idyllic life in the countryside. However, it also sounds a note of

caution, there is bitterness in the memory of lost opportunities and the ending is not happy for everyone Short summary: Trygaeus, a middle-aged Athenian, miraculously brings about a peaceful end to the Peloponnesian War, thereby earning the gratitude of farmers while bankrupting various tradesmen who had profited from the hostilities. He celebrates his triumph by marrying Harvest, a companion of Festival and Peace, all of whom he has liberated from a celestial prison. (6.) 414 B.C. The Birds is a comedy by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It was performed in 414 BCE at the City Dionysia where it won second prize. It has been acclaimed by modern critics as a perfectly realized fantasy[3] 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. The Birds features the elaborately feathered Pisthetairos and Euelpides, who contrive to create a Cloud-cuckoo-town amongst various, bawdy and sardonic criticism of religion , law and education It is the longest of Aristophanes' surviving

(7.) 411B.C. The Lysistrata Lysistrata or "Army-disbander" Originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BC, it is a comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end The Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual gratification from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace a strategy that, consequently, inflames the battle between the sexes. The play is notable for being an early expose of sexual politics in a maledominated society. It was the first play to Feature Female protagonist It was produced in the same year as Thesmophoriazusae , another play with a focus on gender based issue.

(8.) 411 B.C. The Thesmophoriazusae Thesmophoriazusae meaning Women Celebrating the Festival of the Thesmophoria sometimes also calledThe Poet and the Women is one of eleven surviving plays by the master of Old Comedy, the Athenian playwright Aristophanes. It was first produced in 411 BC, probably at the City Dionysia. How it fared in that festival's drama competition is unknown but it is now considered one of Aristophanes' most brilliant parodies of Athenian society with a particular focus on the subversive role of women in a male-dominated society, the vanity of contemporary poets, such as the tragic playwrights Euripides and Agathon, and the shameless, enterprising vulgarity of an ordinary Athenian, as represented in this play by the protagonist, Mnesilochus. The play is also notable for Aristophanes' free adaptation of key structural elements of Old Comedy and for the absence of the anti-populist and anti-war comments that pepper his earlier work It was produced in the same year as Lysistrata, another play with a sexual theme.

(9.) 405. B.C. The Frogs. is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It was performed at the Lenaia one of the Festivals of Dionysus, in 405 BC, and received first place Aristophanes favorite target, however, was another literary figure--the tragic poet Euripides. Already satirized in The Acharnians, Euripides was later to became the subject of two more plays: Thesmophoriazusae (Women at the Festival of Demeter) and The Frogs. Short summary: Euripides' death--Dionysus has become annoyed at the absence of a major dramatist on the stage and resolves to bring Euripides back from the dead. Dressed as Hercules, he braves the underworld, pleading with Pluto to allow Euripides to return with him to Athens. However, there are three tragic poets stuck in Hades, and the great warrior-poet Aeschylus is not convinced that the upstart Euripides is the best choice to return to the world of the living. Aeschylus and Euripides contend in the under-world for the throne og Trgedy; and the victory is last awarded to Aeschylus

(10.) 393 B.C. The Ecclesiazusae also known as Assemblywomen, Women in Parliament, Women in Power, and A Parliament of Women is a play dating from 393 BCE which is similar in theme to Lysistrata in that a large portion of the comedy comes from women involving themselves in politics. This play is much more infused with gender issues than Lysistrata is. This play also shows a change in the style of Ancient Greek comedy after the short period of oligarchy after the Peloponnesian War, or at least an attempt at it. It seems to be a merging of the two styles that works in the beginning, but falls apart by the end. Short Summary: The play concerns a group of women, the leader of which is Praxagora. She has decided that the women must convince the men to give them control of Athens, because they could rule it better than they have been. The women, in the guise of men, sneak into the assembly and vote the measure, convincing some of the men to vote for it because it is the only thing they have not tried. The women then institute a totalitarian-like government in which the state feeds, houses, and generally takes care of every Athenian. They enforce an idea of equality by allowing every man to sleep with every woman, but that the man must sleep with an ugly woman before he may sleep with a beautiful one. There is a scene in which two men are talking. One of them is going along with the new government, giving his property to the women, and obeying their orders. The other does not wish to give up his property, but he is more than willing to take advantage of the free food. The following scene has a pair of young lovers unable to make their tryst as a succession of ever older and more hideous women attempting to and eventually succeeding in dragging the man off to make love to them first, as laid down by the new laws.

(11.) 388 B.C. The Plutus Plutus meaning "wealth" is an Ancient Greek comedy by the playwright Aristophanes, first produced c. 388 BC A political satire on contemporary Athens, it features the personified god of wealth Plutus. Reflecting the development of Old Comedy towards New Comedy. it uses such familiar character types as the stupid master and the insubordinate slave to attack the morals of the time.

Downfall and death The Peloponnesian war (431404 B.C.E. ) between Athens and the Spartans began in 431 B.C.E. The leaders of Athens decided to wage war from the sea only. Meanwhile the Spartans burned the crops of Athens. Then the plague (outbreak of disease) hit Athens in 430 B.C.E. , killing many. As Athens faced her worst enemystarvationAristophanes' comedy continued to be crisp and cutting. Frogs received the first time honor of the request for a second performance. The long war finally ended, when the Athenians were starved into surrender in the spring of 404 B.C.E. This sad defeat broke something in the spirit of the Athenians, and though they soon regained considerable importance both in politics and in intellectual matters, they were never quite the same again. In the sphere of comedy the no-holds-barred rudeness of the Old Comedy disappeared and was replaced by a more cautious, refined, and less spirited New Comedy. The political climate was uneasy with the Spartans lording over Athens. Aristophanes had to hold his tongue in his plays, no longer poking fun at leaders and politics. He died nine years after Lysistrata, which still exists, and three years after his play Plutus. Dates of death range from 385380 B.C.E. but it is certain that Aristophanes died in his beloved city, Athens.