Frogs

Frogs

Frogs

Frogs

Synopsis

Frogs is by common consent one of the finest achievements of Aristophanes (456 BC to 386 BC), the greatest writer of comic drama in classical Athens and among most famous writers of dramatic comedy in our Western tradition. The play was first performed at a Festival of Dionysus in Athens in 405 BC, at a time when the disastrous Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta was nearing its end. The production so popular that it received the extraordinary honor of a second production and Aristophanes received a special honor from the city.In the play the god Dionysus, in the form of a middle-aged human being, insists on travelling to Hades to bring back the tragic poet Euripides (who had died the year before), so that Athens can once again enjoy fine poetry. His slave Xanthias accompanies him. The trip is full of robust comical encounters with a range of characters, including Hercules, Charon, the famous Chorus of the Frogs, various underworld figures, and, finally Euripides and Aeschylus, who stage a debate over which of them is the greatest poet, an argument which has them mercilessly satirizing each other's work. For all its extremely funny stage business, Frogs raises some important and still relevant questions about the nature of dramatic art and the role of the dramatist. It also explores and exposes the self-serving attitudes of citizens during a time of war.

Excerpt

Frogs was first produced in Athens in 405 BC. By this time Athens had been at war with Sparta for over twenty-five years.

XANTHIAS
Look, master, an audience! Shouldn’t I speak up?
Tell them one of those jokes they always fall for?
DIONYSUS
Oh, all right—say what you like. Only no jokes
about how you’re dying to piss. I can’t stand those—
they’re all so stale.
XANTHIAS
What about my other jokes?
DIONYSUS
Go ahead—just nothing about your bladder,
about how it’s going to burst.
XANTHIAS
What? You mean I can’t tell
that really funny one …
DIONYSUS
I suppose so—
but don’t say anything about the bit.
XANTHIAS
What bit?
DIONYSUS
The bit about how you need to shift your load
to take a piss . . .

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