Four Plays by Aristophanes : The Birds; The Clouds; The Frogs; Lysistrata

Walmart # 0978045200717

Four Plays by Aristophanes : The Birds; The Clouds; The Frogs; Lysistrata

Walmart # 0978045200717
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The acknowledged master of Greek comedy, Aristophanes brilliantly combines serious political satire with bawdiness, pyrotechnical bombast with delicate lyrics. This volumes features his four most celebrated masterpieces: THE CLOUDS, THE BIRDS, LYSISTRATA, and THE FROGS. Three of the leading translators of the 20th century--William Arrowsmith, Richmond Lattimore, and Douglas Parker--have created versions of the comedies that are at once contemporary, historically accurate, and funny. Also included are introductions to each play that describe the historical and literary background of the work.

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Although I am a student o

Although I am a student of classical antiquity, and studied classical Greek in college, I have never been able to work up more than an academic interest in Aristophanes. While I can see the importance of his work - both as a social commentary on the Athens of the fifth-century BCE, and as a cornerstone of the comedic tradition in Western drama - I have never truly been able to ENJOY his plays. I was surprised therefore, by how much I liked the production of The Frogs that I recently saw performed here in NY by the Greek Cultural Center (good job, George!). Concluding that comedy is far more difficult to convey by text alone than is tragedy, as it relies upon the visual and auditory components of the play to a greater degree, I decided to dig out one of my old college books, and give the "comic master" another try. My project met with the predictable mixed results. While my appreciation of The Frogs (translated in this collection by Richmond Lattimore) was noticeably greater this time around, I still found myself mostly indifferent to the three other works in this anthology. While it is certainly interesting to read another perspective on the famed Socrates (and there is some debate as to how Aristophanes intended his parody to be taken), my greatest enjoyment of The Clouds was in reading William Arrowsmith's commentary on his various decisions as translator. The same holds true of The Birds, also translated by Arrowsmith, which despite its status as the playwright's masterpiece, has always struck me as somewhat dreary. As for Lysistrata, here translated by Douglass Parker, although I have read it many times over the years, I never fail to find its portrayal of women extremely creepy. All of which is to say: Aristophanes is not for me... Still, no student of classical Greek literature and history can afford to ignore so celebrated an author. For this reason, and because I find Aristophanes fascinating, even when I do not enjoy him, I recommend these works (and this translation) to all...

I don't always love Arist

I don't always love Aristophanes; he can really cram the obscure contemporary references into his stuff, which makes it sortof impossible to get the jokes. But he makes a lot of fart jokes, too, and those are timeless.In order, the best of these plays:1) Lysistrata, by a long shot. The most original of Aristophanes' ideas, and the most timeless: as recently as 2012, feminists sarcastically suggested a Lysistrata when the Republicans accidentally launched an ill-fated war on birth control. The story is that Athenian women conspire with Spartans to deny sex to their husbands until they end the war. That idea is simple, funny and filthy. (This is, depending on your translation, the first time dildos are mentioned in literature.)2) The Birds, which I like to imagine animated in the Yellow Submarine style. Clean and well thought out.3) Clouds, relevant because it's about Socrates, whom we know, and because it includes the best of Aristophanes' fart jokes - which is saying something since, as noted above, Aristophanes really likes fart jokes.4) Frogs, which is mainly an argument between Aeschylus and Euripides about who's the best dramatist. (The play up til that climactic confrontation, which describes Dionysos disguised as Herakles journeying to the underworld to find a great poet, is faintly amusing but largely forgettable.) Aristophanes leaves Sophocles out, claiming that he's too dignified to bother with the whole charade (although one has to imagine that, however sweetly it's explained away, his absence has to betray Aristophanes' judgment). This was a lot of fun for me - and it's getting the most time here because I'm reading it right now, and realizing as I do that I never really reviewed the rest of them; I've done my best to write capsule reviews of those, but they're not what I'm thinking of at this moment. Anyway, I can't see the attraction for anyone who isn't pretty invested in both Aeschylus and Euripides. It contains what amounts to scholarly comparison of the metres of both poets; at times it sounds like a grad thesis.Aeschylus appears to come out the winner here, but it does seems like all the best lines go to Euripides. Maybe this is just my own prejudice coloring my interpretation; I like Aeschylus, but I like the enfant terrible, tricky and rebellious Euripides better. To me, Aeschylus comes out pretty stodgy.Aeschylus: The poet should cover up scandal, and not let anyone see it.Euripides: You ought to make the people talk like people!This judgment by the Chorus seems about accurate:One [Aeschylus] is a wrestler strong and tough;quick the other one [Euripides], deft in defensive throws and the back-heel stuff.And at the last, after Aeschylus has beaten Euripides, line for line, Dionysos says:One of them's a great poet, I like the other one.I'm going to go ahead and decide Aristophanes secretly agrees with me: Euripides is more fun. (Note: the text really doesn't support my conclusion.)Aristophanes is aiming at, and concludes with, a more serious question for his time: should the politician Alcibiades be followed? Aeschylus says yes, Euripides says no. This is during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Greece. Alcibiades, a politician with an amazing capacity for joining whichever side happened to be winning - he had switched from Athens to Sparta to Persia back to Athens - would soon be exiled after some disastrous naval losses. (And Athens will, y'know, lose this war.) Aristophanes didn't know this yet (if I have the dates right here), but Euripides was right.

Frigging Hilarious. And t

Frigging Hilarious. And taught me something about translation: if you translate a comedy and the result isn't comedic, you have failed. (Unless it wasn't funny in the first place, or you're writing for an audience of scholars.) Good translation evokes feelings similar to the ones that readers of the original text experience. If that means you have to take liberties with meaning, so be it.
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