CliffsNotes on Aristophanes' Lysistrata, The Birds, The Clouds, The Frogs

CliffsNotes on Aristophanes' Lysistrata, The Birds, The Clouds, The Frogs

CliffsNotes on Aristophanes' Lysistrata, The Birds, The Clouds, The Frogs

CliffsNotes on Aristophanes' Lysistrata, The Birds, The Clouds, The Frogs

Synopsis

These are the 'Cliff Notes' on Aristophanes' Comedies. Lysistrata, The Birds, The Clouds, and The Frogs.

Aristophanes's plays were comedies, satires, and politically charged. Lysistrata is perhaps his most famous, dealing with the power of sex and war in a society where women have control.

Excerpt

A well-known American celebrity, being interviewed on TV, was asked about his singing career, and he said, “I sing mostly countrywestern songs because they tell it how it is.” In a sense, that is what Aristophanes tried to do in his comedies: “tell it how it is.” For over fifty years, the Greek stage had been dominated by superlative, but often depressing and emotional tragedies. Suddenly, Aristophanes introduced first-rate earthy, comic dramas to the Greek audiences. Theater has never been the same since. Aristophanes’ comedies were radical and lasting innovations.

Aristophanes, however, was not a man whom one would label as “funny”; his plays are not filled with a series of one-liners. He was a very serious comic writer, keenly aware of his debt to earlier dramatists–in particular, to Aeschylus, the playwright often referred to today as “the father of Greek tragedy.” Both Aeschylus and Aristophanes held similar viewpoints about Athens, and readers can better understand Aristophanes’ comedies if they have some knowledge of the cultural context that preceded Aristophanes and if they have some knowledge of Aeschylus and other early Greek dramatists.

Aeschylus

Like Aristophanes, Aeschylus grew up in a country that was shaken almost daily by the tremors of impending war. The mighty enemy of the Persian Empire was a continual threat to Athens’ peace, and young Aeschylus gained a place in history as a valiant warrior/ soldier long before he attained fame as a dramatist. His name is linked forever with the crucial Battle of Marathon, and his early poetry is filled with an abundance of allusions to the painful hardships and miseries of war.

When Aeschylus finally began writing dramas, he was middleaged, but his genius was recognized almost immediately. He wrote . . .

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