Read The Frogs and Other Plays by Aristophanes Free Online
Book Title: The Frogs and Other Plays|
The author of the book: Aristophanes
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: 1964
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 846 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.8
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59. The Frogs and Other Plays (The Wasps & The Poet and the Women) by Aristophanes, translated by David Barrett
format: 217 page Penguin Classic paperback, 1966 re-print
acquired: 2006, from my neighbor
read: Sep 6-8
rating: 3½ stars
The play Frogs is a gem, and includes maybe the earliest literary criticism available, albeit done in humor. The other two plays were more like meh sitcoms, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood.
Greek comedy had a long history and even the tragic playwrights wrote raunchy, silly comedies in the form of satyr plays. But that's all lost. Aristophanes is the only representative of Old Greek Comedy remaining. We have eleven of his plays. In general they are raunchy and funny, but also have very serious points, even direct political advice for wartime Athens.
Wasps 422 bce
Aristophanes mocks on the Athenian leader at the time, Creon. Here an old father, named Procleon, is obsessed with being a juror in Athenian courts everyday. He only convicts. His wealthy son, named Anticleon, tries to curtail this obsession, even imprisoning Procleon in their home. The wasps are a group of old cranky jurors who come to bring Procleon to court. They form the chorus.
Aristophanes was somewhere around 20 years old when this was produced, which was very young for Athenian playwrights. That's maybe impressive or maybe just why the play seems immature. I never could really get into it.
The Poet and the Women 411 bce
(aka: Thesmophoriazusae, or Women at the Thesmophoria)
Euripides was famous for treating women poorly in his plays, even though he really has strong female roles. He made fun of this criticism of himself in his own plays. Here, Aristophanes plays on this idea in a ridiculous way. I can see this working well in performance.
Themophoria was an all-women religious ritual. Euripides is afraid because he heard the women are so upset about his treatment of women in his plays that they are going to work out revenge against him during the festival. He recruits an aged, and bearded in-law to dress as a woman, infiltrate the gathering and defend him. Things don't work out quite as planned.
Frogs 405 bce
By the time this play was performed Athens had all but lost the its 30-year war with Sparta. It is quite amazing that Athens still held this festivals for these comedies and even still allowed public criticism of the government within them...even if it is provided by a chorus of croaking frogs. (Aristophanes would continue to write plays after Athens did lose, but they no longer contain political criticism. It seems this was may no longer have been permitted. )
The depressing real world position of Athens makes this play quite meaningful and touching. Aristophanes was trying to be funny, and give his commentary, but how to find a form that would be watchable at this time? He seems to have pulled it off.
Sophocles and Euripides have passed away (in real life too) and left Athens without a poet to help them in their desperate need. The God Dionysos decides he must go down to Hades and bring Euripides back to Athens to save the city. (Silly elements include Dionysos's poor-luck assistant who must carry his gear, and the leopard coat he wears to disguise himself as Herakles. At one point, in the underworld, he tries to hire a corpse to carry his stuff - the corpse refuses.)
Instead of rescuing Euripides, Dionysos holds a competition between Euripides and Aeschylus to find which one is better to bring back and help Athens. Both playwrights read parts of their plays (some parts of which are otherwise lost) and then get judged. They both come out pretty badly, but Dionysos decides Athens needs old Aeschylus more and declares him the winner.
As for the frogs, they croak and give direct advice to Dionysos on how to help Athens, naming names.
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Read information about the authorAristophanes (Greek: Αριστοφάνης; c. 446 BCE – c. 386 BCE) was a playwright of ancient Athens.
About 11 of his works are known in full, and they are the only plays of the "Old Comedy" style to have survived. They are The Acharnians, The Birds, The Clouds, The Ecclesiazusae, The Frogs, The Knights, Peace, Plutus (Wealth), The Thesmophoriazusae, and The Wasps. These plays have been translated into many languages and continue to be staged or adapted for theatrical productions.
Aristophanes satirized the political and social issues of 5th-century-BC Athens, such as the ongoing Peloponnesian War, the structure of the city-state, the role of women in public life, the influence of philosophers (notably Socrates) in shaping public opinion.
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