Aristophanes: The man of the lampoon and the ancient comedy03-02-2013 10:51Aristophanes is considered the greatest writer of Greek comedy. 11 of his plays have been survived and show the highly political nature of Aristofanes art, with comic invention and characterization to current events, as of the Peloponnesian War.
He was born circa 450 B.C. in Athens, in the township of Cydathenae, son of Philippus and Zenodora. His father was a landowner in Aegina, an island of Argosaronikos near Athens, and this gave the young play writer a certain status. But it was his original talent in comedy that gave him the great applause for his first play, when he was still a teenager.
Aristophanes made in his plays an extensive use of broad political satire, comedy farce and use of costume, mask, music and dance. The Age of Pericles allowed the comedians great license and freedom for political talk, a fact that gave Aristophanes a pattern of putting his creativity into work.
Aristophanes often caricatured leading figures of his times like the great dramatist Euripides and the philosopher Socrates, implying his own conservative ideas over society.
In his first play that has survived, The Acharnians, Aristophanes introduces the antiwar theme for the first time in history. War is the main theme also for Lysistrata takes its name from the feminist protagonist, who decides that women can put an end to the war as he shows in his work Peace as well, suggesting that Athens should accept the Spartan peace.
In Nephelai (Clouds), the main target of his satire is the philosopher Socrates, in Hippeis (Knights) the tyrant Cleon, Athenians’ love for litigation in Sphekes (Wasps), Aeschylus and Dionysus in Batrachoi (Frogs).
Ornithes (The Birds) is the play containing some of the greatest lyric poetry of Aristophanes and describes the utopian theory that humankind should live in a simpler kingdom. In the Thesmophoriazusae criticise Euripides, the tragedian and in the Ekklesiazousai criticises in advance the form of communism produced by his characters in the play. In his play Ploutos (Wealth) Aristophanes puts blind Ploutos to be given his sight back to see that wealth belongs to those who can sanely use it.
Centuries later, the plays of Aristophanes keep exerting considerable influence on satire and comedy of nowadays, and his plays are among the repertoire of great comedians.
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