Aristophanes was born, probably in Athens, c. 449 BC and died between 386 and 380 BC. Little is known about his life, but there is a portrait of him in Plato's Symposium. He was twice threatened with prosecution in the 420s for his outspoken attacks on the prominent politician Cleon, but in 405 he was publicly honored and crowned for promoting Athenian civic unity in The Frogs. Aristophanes had his first comedy produced when he was about twenty-one, and wrote forty plays in all. The eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes are published in the Penguin Classics series as The Birds and Other Plays, Lysistrata and Other Plays, and The Wasps/The Poet and the Women/The Frogs.
The Frogs and Other Playsby Aristophanes
Along with Sophocles and Euripides, Aristophanes is considered one of the three great Greek playwrights. Only eleven of his nearly forty plays survive in their entirety to this day. "The Frogs and Other Plays" includes the titular play along "The Wasps" and "The Thesmophoriazusae." Produced the year after the death of Euripides, "The Frogs" laments the decay of Greek tragedy which Aristophanes attributed to that writer. It is an admirable example of the brilliance of his style, and of that mingling of wit and poetry with rollicking humor and keen satirical point which is his chief characteristic. Here, as elsewhere, he stands for tradition against innovation of all kinds, whether in politics, religion, or art. In "The Wasps" Aristophanes pokes satirical fun at the demagogue Cleon and the Athenian law courts that provide Cleon with his power. "The Thesmophoriazusae" is concerned with the schemes of a group of women at the Thesmophoria, an annual fertility celebration dedicated to Demeter, who angered by Euripides portrayal of women in his plays as mad, murderous, and sexually depraved, plan to exact revenge upon him.
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