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Aristophanes

(c. 446-c. 386 B.C.E.)

Biography

Aristophanes wrote his plays between 427 to 387 B.C.E. Aristophanes lived in the time of Socrates and Thucydides, a generation behind Sophocles and Euripides. Plato lived a generation after Aristophanes. Aristophanes produced at least forty plays, eleven of which have survived to modern times. Evidence of other plays by Aristophanes is seen in papyrus fragments and references to unknown works by writers of his time.

Plays in the time of Aristophanes were put on at two festivals, in the City Dionysia and the Lenaea. There were also plays at local festivals, but little is known about them. The plays for the town of Dionysia were played at the theatre of Dionysus next to the Akropolis, but it is unclear where the plays of Lenaea were staged. The plays at the festival were always performed as a sort of competition and there was great rivalry between playwrights to take first prize.

Many of Aristophanes’ plays offer social satire or commentary. Little is known about his life beyond the work that he produced, though Plato did include Aristophanes as a character in his Symposium.

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SparkNotes

Aristophanes Quotes

Comedy too can sometimes discern what is right. I shall not please, but I shall say what is true.

O women, if we would compel the men to bow to Peace, [...] We must refrain from every depth of love.... Why do you turn your backs? Where are you going? Why do you bite your lips and shake your heads? Why are your faces blanched? Why do you weep?

I pained folk but little and caused them much amusement; my conscience rebuked me for nothing.

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Plays

  • The Acharnians

    (425 B.C.E.)

  • Assemblywomen

    (391 B.C.E.)

  • The Birds

    (414 B.C.E.)

  • The Clouds

    (423 B.C.E.)

  • The Frogs

    (405 B.C.E.)

  • The Knights

    (424 B.C.E.)

  • Lysistrata

    (411 B.C.E.)

  • Peace

    (421 B.C.E.)

  • Plutus

    (408 B.C.E.)

  • Thesmophoriazusae

    (411 B.C.E.)

  • The Wasps

    (422 B.C.E.)