Ancient Greek History

Aristophanes – Ancient Greek Playwright

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Athens, Greece - July 31, 2014: Remains of the Theater of Dionysus Eleuthereus on July 31, 2014 in Athens, Greece attracts tourists from all over the world.Without the Ancient Greeks, theater wouldn’t exist as we know it. Invented during Greece’s Golden Age, playwrights used the theater to express themselves, make political statements, and to entertain their audiences. Aristophanes was one of the most well-known playwrights of his time and his plays are still performed today. Here is more information about the life and works of Aristophanes:

Known as the Father of Comedy

Aristophanes wrote a total of forty plays that we know of, eleven of which have survived nearly intact. Although he wrote a few different types of plays, he is most known for his comedic works. He is referred to as either the “Father of Comedy” or the “Prince of Comedy” because of his writing style and the humor that is weaved throughout the stories. He writes in a style known as “Old Comedy”, which was popular in Ancient Greece, particular in Ancient Athens where Aristophanes was from. Not only are his works comedic, but they are also realistic. Fans of his work have said that Aristophanes successfully portrayed the life of the ancient Athenians despite the fact that he did so through humor. He also regularly caricatured historical figures in Ancient Greece, such as Euripides.

Life of Aristophanes

Although many of his works have survived, historians don’t actually know that much about his life. They do know that Aristophanes lived in the Athenian city-state. He was born in Athens in 450 B.C. and died in Delphi in 380 B.C. What’s interesting is that there is very little documented information about his life, and what we do know has largely been derived from his works. However, many of the plays that we know of are fairly complete, which gives us a greater chance of knowing more about his life. We do know that he lived in Athens and that many of his plays were performed in venues such as the Theater of Dionysius (pictured in this post). We also know that his father, Philippus, owned property on the island of Aegina. This fact would come into play later as some of the Athenian citizens of his time accused him of not being a true Athenian.

Works of Aristophanes

As mentioned above, there are forty works in existence that we know of that were authored by him. However, only eleven of these are complete enough to be performed without major changes. These include Babylonians, Wasp, Archarnians, Knights, Clouds, Peace, Birds, Women at Thesmophoria, Frogs, Women at Ecclesia, and Lysistrata. The remaining works only survive as fragments and even though they are occasionally performed, artistic license needs to be taken to handle the parts of those plays that have been lost.

Aristophanes was one of the most popular playwrights of his day, and his influence is still felt today. Known as the Father of Comedy, he had a way of writing that brought humor to his audience while also drawing attention to certain aspects of Athenian society.


Wikipedia – Aristophanes

Wikipedia – Ancient Greek Comedy

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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