Theatre Oral History Report Essay, Research Paper
Theatre History Oral Report
Aristophanes (448?-385 BC), Athenian playwright, considered one of the greatest writers of comedy in
literary history. His plays have been produced through the centuries and have remained popular because
of their wit, comic invention, and poetic language.
Aristophanes is believed to have been born in Athens, Greece, in the deme, or township, of
Cydathenaeum. Presumably, he was well educated and may have had property on the island of Aegina.
He had three sons-Philippos, Araros, and Nikostratos-all of whom were comic poets.
Aristophanes was first and foremost a satirist. During his lifetime Athens underwent a period of
convulsive cultural and social change, and he found a ready target in the politicians, poets, and
philosophers of his day. It would nevertheless be misleading to describe Aristophanes as a reactionary or a
conservative, since his works show no sympathy for the aristocratic party in Athenian politics. No class,
age, or profession was exempt from his satire. Aristophanes wrote more than 40 plays, of which 11 are
extant. His first three plays were produced under pseudonyms, including The Acharnians (425 BC), a plea
for ending the war with Sparta. The Knights (424 BC), the first of the plays of Aristophanes to be
presented under his own name, is a devastating satire about Athenian politician and military leader Cleon,
champion of the democratic forces and leader of the war party. The Clouds (423 BC) satirizes Greek
philosopher Socrates, whose penetrating analysis of established values Aristophanes considered opposed
to the interests of the state. In The Wasps (422 BC) Aristophanes satirized the courts of justice of the
day, and in The Peace (421 BC) he again argued for peace between Athens and Sparta. The Birds (414
BC) is a fantasy in which an Athenian persuades the birds to build a city in the clouds and then imposes
his own terms on the gods. Lysistrata (411 BC), another satire on war, in which women strike for peace
by practicing celibacy, is his most famous work. Thesmorphoriazusae (411 BC) and The Frogs (405 BC)
include attacks on Athenian playwright Euripides. Ecclesiazusa (393 BC) is a satire on the idea of
communal ownership of property, and Plutus (388 BC) reduced to absurdity the concept of redistribution
of wealth in Athens. These works, basically fantasies, were written in a form related to that of
contemporary tragedy. They include dialogue scenes, long choral harangues, lyric passages, and a great
deal of music and dance.
The plays of Aristophanes exerted considerable influence on English satire, notably that of English
playwright Ben Jonson in the 17th century and English novelist Henry Fielding in the 18th century.
Aristophanes was born in 450 b.C. or a few years later. We make the conclusion for the year since in
“Nefeles”-(”The Clouds”) (528-533) the writer leaves us to think that he was extremely young and
he didn’t have self-confidence when the play “Thetalis” (his first play) was staged.
431 Pelloponesian war starts, between Athens and Sparta.
430 Pestilence in Athens.
429 Death of Pericleus.
428/7 Plato is born.
427 “Thetalis” (lost)
426 “Babylonians” (lost). Kleon lawsuits Aristophanes, with the accusation that by that play ridicule
the elective rulers of the city, infront of the audiense and among them a lot of foreigh visitors, in Grant
Dionesia. The suit didn’t seem to have any consequence for him.
425 “Aharnes”. First prize in Linea
424 “Heppeas” (”Horsemen”). First prize in Linea
423 “Nefeles” (”Clouds”). First form (lost) that won the third and last prize in Grand Dionesia.
Peace settlement, temporarily stops the hostilities between Athens and Sparta.
422 “Sfikes” (”Wasps”), second prize in Linea.
421 “Peace”, second-best prize in Grand Dionesia.
417 “Nefeles”, partially revised form (saved) that never staged in ancient years.
415 Athens sends in Sicily a big expeditionary legion.
414 “Amfiaraos” (lost) in Linea. “Ornithes” (”Birds”), second prize in Grand Dionesia.
413 Sparta restarts warfare. Athenian army destroyed in Sicily.
411 “Lysistrata” in Linea, “Thesmoforiazouses” in Grand Dionesia. Oligarchic revolution
dominated temporarily in Athens, but democratic polity restored a few months later.
408 “Ploutos” (lost), it’s not the play that staged later.
406 Euripides & Sophocles death.
405 “Vatrahee” (”Frogs”), 1st prize in Linea. Plastering and naval blockade of Athens.
404 Sparta lays peace. An oligarchic group (The Tyranny of Thirties) takes up rule.
403 Local war and reinstatment of democracy.
399 Sentence and deth of Socrates.
395 The war with Sparta restarts, but with diferent correlation of allies. First steps of Athenian navy
392 “Heclesiasouses” (the chronology is based mostly upon internal criterions and probably trown
off a year.)
388 “Ploutos” (”wealth”) (saved)
After 388: “Heolosikon” (lost) and “Kokalos” (lost). Produser and director was one of poet sons.
From “Aharnes” we make the conclusion that at the time this play was staged, Aristophanes lived in
Eagina, the island the Athenians had colonized in 431 b.C. when they threw out the old dwellers (as
philolaconists). We know that his sons where comedy writers but we know nothing for his father
(Phillipos his name) nor for his social or economic status.