|Who is it?||Playwright|
|Birth Place||Classical Athens, Greek|
|Died On||c. 386 BC\nDelphi|
|Years active||427 BC – 386 BC|
|Known for||Playwright and director of Old Comedy|
|Notable work||The Clouds (423 BC) The Wasps (422 BC) The Birds (414 BC) Lysistrata (411 BC) The Women at the Thesmophoria Festival (411 BC) The Frogs (405 BC)|
Latin translations of the plays by Andreas Divus (Venice 1528) were circulated widely throughout Europe in the Renaissance and these were soon followed by translations and adaptations in modern languages. Racine, for Example, drew Les Plaideurs (1668) from The Wasps. Goethe (who turned to Aristophanes for a warmer and more vivid form of comedy than he could derive from readings of Terence and Plautus) adapted a short play Die Vögel from The Birds for performance in Weimar. Aristophanes has appealed to both conservatives and radicals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries — Anatoly Lunacharsky, first Commissar of Enlightenment for the USSR in 1917, declared that the ancient dramatist would have a permanent place in proletarian theatre and yet conservative, Prussian intellectuals interpreted Aristophanes as a satirical opponent of social reform. The avant-gardist stage-director Karolos Koun directed a version of The Birds under the Acropolis in 1959 that established a trend in modern Greek history of breaking taboos through the voice of Aristophanes.
The tragic dramatists, Sophocles and Euripides, died near the end of the Peloponnesian War and the art of tragedy thereafter ceased to develop, yet comedy did continue to evolve after the defeat of Athens and it is possible that it did so because, in Aristophanes, it had a master craftsman who lived long enough to help usher it into a new age. Indeed, according to one ancient source (Platonius, c.9th Century AD), one of Aristophanes's last plays, Aioliskon, had neither a parabasis nor any choral lyrics (making it a type of Middle Comedy), while Kolakos anticipated all the elements of New Comedy, including a rape and a recognition scene. Aristophanes seems to have had some appreciation of his formative role in the development of comedy, as indicated by his comment in Clouds that his audience would be judged by other times according to its reception of his plays. Clouds was awarded third (i.e. last) place after its original performance and the text that has come down to the modern age was a subsequent draft that Aristophanes intended to be read rather than acted. The circulation of his plays in manuscript extended their influence beyond the original audience, over whom in fact they seem to have had little or no practical influence: they did not affect the career of Cleon, they failed to persuade the Athenians to pursue an honourable peace with Sparta and it is not clear that they were instrumental in the trial and execution of Socrates, whose death probably resulted from public animosity towards the philosopher's disgraced associates (such as Alcibiades), exacerbated of course by his own intransigence during the trial. The plays, in manuscript form, have been put to some surprising uses — as indicated earlier, they were used in the study of rhetoric on the recommendation of Quintilian and by students of the Attic dialect in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries AD. It is possible that Plato sent copies of the plays to Dionysius of Syracuse so that he might learn about Athenian life and government.
The chorus was mainly used by Aristophanes as a defense against rhetoric and would often talk about topics such as the civic duty of those who were educated in classical teachings. In Aristophanes’ opinion it was the job of those educated adults to protect the public from the deception and to stand as a beacon of light for those who were more gullible than others. One of the main reasons why Aristophanes was so against the sophists came into existence from the requirements listed by the Leaders of the organization. Money was essential, which meant that roughly all of the pupils studying with the sophists came from upper-class backgrounds and excluded the rest of the polis. Aristophanes believed that education and knowledge was a public Service and that anything that excluded willing minds was nothing but an abomination. He concludes that all politicians that study rhetoric must have "doubtful citizenships, unspeakable morals, and too much arrogance”