Lysistrata and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)
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Three plays by the comedian of Ancient Greece
Writing at the time of political and social crisis in Athens, Aristophanes was an eloquent yet bawdy challenger to the demagogue and the sophist. The Achanians is a plea for peace set against the background of the long war with Sparta. In Lysistrata a band of women tap into the awesome power of sex in order to end a war. The darker comedy of The Clouds satirizes Athenian philosophers, Socrates in particular, and reflects the uncertainties of a generation in which all traditional religious and ethical beliefs were being challenged.
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area itself. The skene probably had three doors; part of it was on two floors, with a window on the upper storey (used in several comedies), and the remaining, single-storeyed section had a flat roof (on which Dikaiopolis’ wife stands in The Acharnians to watch the Dionysiac procession, and which in Lysistrata represents the battlements of the Acropolis). Painted panels hung on the front walls could be used to indicate unusual scene settings, such as the Hoopoe’s thicket in The Birds; it is
have gone beyond theoretical arguments and attacked specific religious observances, notably the Eleusinian Mysteries. 6. I use Dover’s names Right and Wrong for the two characters who in the Greek text are called, literally, ‘the Superior Argument’ and ‘the Inferior Argument’. 7. Not every oath in the dialogue of Greek comedy is necessarily to be taken at its full value, but we are surely meant to notice the contradiction when Pheidippides first promises, with an oath ‘by Dionysus’, to do
the south of Troy), was wounded by Achilles when defending his country against Greek invaders who thought they had landed at Troy. In Euripides’ Telephus, having been told by an oracle that ‘your wounder will also be your healer’, he travelled, disguised as a Greek beggar, to seek out Achilles at Argos where the Greek chiefs had assembled. 74. Ino… Thyestes: Ino, wife of the Thessalian king Athamas, had been given up for dead by her husband, who had remarried; when he learned that she was alive,
chorus that had performed at the Lenaea in a previous year)52 and even before this it speaks at one moment (as other Aristophanic choruses sometimes also do) in the name of the author in the first person.53 Even in The Clouds, where the plot requires that the chorus should retain to the end their character as cloud-goddesses, they can speak (lines 1115–30) as a group of performers taking part in a competition, and demand, with menaces, to be given the first prize.54 Lysistrata is exceptional
like. 132. Solon… a good democrat: Solon (early sixth century) had been the creator of the Athenian law-code, and in the fifth and fourth centuries the whole corpus of Athenian law, though it included many later additions, was commonly referred to as ‘the laws of Solon’. And if Athens was a democracy, and its laws were the laws of Solon, it seemed to follow that Solon must have been a democrat – and so, as we know from surviving oratory, most classical Athenians believed, in the teeth of the