"Damn your quarts, you stupid peasant. Let's try rhythms, perhaps you'll understand better." "I will if they'll help me sell my corn."

This quotation is an exchange that takes place between sophist-teacher Socrates and his stubborn pupil Strepsiades after the choral "parabasis" in Act One, Scene Two. Socrates is attempting to teach Strepsiades the proper metrics of oratory because it was believed that the proper "rhythms" (I.ii.657) were more compelling and persuasive and would enhance the underlying argument. Socrates's school teaches its pupils rhetoric and a new kind of persuasion known as "Unjust [Argument]" (I.i.93) whereby its practitioners can unravel any educated debate with their slippery, well-hewn persuasion. This kind of education also includes in-depth study of many esoteric pursuits, from the measuring of fleas' jumps to the finer points of geology, and is thought of as "new education" because it differs from the older models that stressed physical fitness and recitation of canonical, ancient works.

This quotation illustrates two essential dichotomies that structure the comedy: the difference between city and country values and the difference between practical (or old, traditional) and esoteric (or new, sophistic) education. Socrates and his academy represent the heights of esoteric, urban knowledge: he and his students are "white-faced" (I.i.93) from being cooped up all day with their books and their sophistries are practiced in the law-courts in the center of town. Strepsiades, by contrast, possesses a rural or "peasant" (I.ii.647) mentality that is partial to hard work, farm life, and a practical, hands-on existence. Strepsiades only wants to acquire knowledge if it can tangibly, physically, and practically help him, whereas Socrates pursues knowledge for its own cerebral, ethereal ends.