Birds is generally recognized as one of Aristophanes' masterpieces, for its imaginative plot (it is the source of the word "Cloudcuckooland"), and its charming and original lyrics. This abridgement of Nan Dunbar's widely acclaimed edition of Birds, published in 1995, preserves all the material designed to help the less advanced student of Greek or the non-specialist to translate, understand, and enjoy the play. It also retains the notes on staging, but the metrical, textual, and ornithological problems are dealt with more summarily, and purely illustrative parallels are omitted.


The text, testimonia, and critical apparatus are reprinted (except for correction of misprints) from my larger edition (1995). In the Introduction I have added a brief first section on Aristophanes and Old Comedy, and expanded the list of abbreviations used in metrical analyses; as well as a general pruning, detailed discussions of MSS and their relationships have been deleted, and the account of the history of the text much shortened. The Commentary has been drastically abridged, but some more translation is provided; notes on serious textual problems are shortened (but not deleted), and discussion (as distinct from description) of lyric metres is restricted to passages raising substantial questions of text or the characterization of birds.

I am indebted to the kindness of Professor Rudolf Kassel in sending me an advance copy of his notes on Birds in ZPE 114 (1996), to Professor I. C. Storey for a copy of his forthcoming review (AJP 1997), and to Dr Walter Stockert for many corrections. Once again I am grateful to my husband, D. Mervyn Jones, for innumerable helpful suggestions for pruning still further a book he had already shortened twice; also to Professor Anna Morpurgo Davies for patiently converting from an obsolete program a large number of computer files, and to Kate Williams for exceptionally vigilant copy-editing and proof-reading.


Somerville College, Oxford 1997 . . .

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