ARISTOPHANES

ARISTOPHANES

Athens, approx. 445 - 385 B.C.
HE WHO IS A MAKER OF SPEARS OR A SELLER OF SHIELDS, TO SELL EASILY, DESIRES WAR

Great ancient Greek comedian, one of the most famous and popular. He was born in Athens (in the municipality of Kydathinaion) in 456 BC. His father Philip, when the territory of Aegina was divided among the legates, received his lot and went and dwelt there (430). Perhaps the poet was also born in Aegina and came to Athens after his father's death.

That is why the notorious demagogue Cleon, who was repeatedly ridiculed by Aristophanes, in 427 complained in writing that the poet was a foreigner and not an Athenian (foreigners paid a special tax to the state), but Aristophanes dismissed the accusation. However, Aristophanes was a genuine Athenian citizen, especially because he belonged to the aristocrats, and his comedies are full of diatribes against the democrats. As an ideal state he considered that of Aristides and Cimon, and ridiculed all modern demagogues, especially Cleon, who called him a "political monster". As a social model he considered the Marathon fighters, he struggled to bring his fellow citizens back to simplicity and piety and advised the improvement of public and domestic education, which these Marathon fighters had also neglected, who had developed into cunning sophists. He presents this contrast, of the wise and worldly education to the new, the promiscuous and unruly of the sophists, in his comedies.

Hating the sophists, he also ridicules Socrates, whom he confuses with them, as well as Euripides, who thinks their tragedies are sophistic. However, he is unjustified for his intention to drag out two great men of his time. Seeing that the municipality was corrupt, he had the courage to deal with that too and make fun of it. Despite all this, the Athenians loved his comic poet so much that in 405 they crowned him with a thallus made of the sacred olive, a wreath that was considered equal to gold.

Aristophanes represents the ancient Attic comedy, as it is called, whose subjects were not limited to general characters and human defects, but (and this he did most often) refer by name to persons, and even political men, whom he satirized. And moving the fierce passion of Cratinus and the grace of Eupolidos, he dominated for 40 years the comedy scene of Athens (427 - 388) which he truly transformed into a center of education and uplifting of the people.

Of the 40 comedies he wrote, only 11 survived.

Works