28 Facts About Aristophanes


Aristophanes, son of Philippus, of the deme Kydathenaion, was a comic playwright or comedy-writer of ancient Athens and a poet of Old Attic Comedy.


Also known as "The Father of Comedy" and "the Prince of Ancient Comedy", Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author.


Aristophanes was a comic poet in an age when it was conventional for a poet to assume the role of teacher, and though this specifically referred to his training of the Chorus in rehearsal, it covered his relationship with the audience as a commentator on significant issues.


Aristophanes claimed to be writing for a clever and discerning audience, yet he declared that "other times" would judge the audience according to its reception of his plays.


Such caricatures seem to imply that Aristophanes was an old-fashioned conservative, yet that view of him leads to contradictions.


Aristophanes's plays were written for production at the great dramatic festivals of Athens, the Lenaia and City Dionysia, where they were judged and awarded prizes in competition with the works of other comic dramatists.


Aristophanes's plays often express pride in the achievement of the older generation yet they are not jingoistic, and they are staunchly opposed to the war with Sparta.


Aristophanes won second prize at the City Dionysia in 427 BC with his first play The Banqueters.


Aristophanes won first prize there with his next play, The Babylonians.


Aristophanes was probably victorious at least once at the City Dionysia, with Babylonians in 427, and at least three times at the Lenaia, with The Acharnians in 425, Knights in 424, and Frogs in 405.


Plato's Aristophanes is in fact a genial character and this has been interpreted as evidence of Plato's own friendship with him.


Plato was only a boy when the events in The Symposium are supposed to have occurred and it is possible that his Aristophanes is in fact based on a reading of the plays.


For example, conversation among the guests turns to the subject of Love and Aristophanes explains his notion of it in terms of an amusing allegory, a device he often uses in his plays.


Aristophanes is represented as suffering an attack of hiccups and this might be a humorous reference to the crude physical jokes in his plays.


Aristophanes tells the other guests that he is quite happy to be thought amusing but he is wary of appearing ridiculous.


Aristophanes survived The Peloponnesian War, two oligarchic revolutions and two democratic restorations; this has been interpreted as evidence that he was not actively involved in politics, despite his highly political plays.


Aristophanes was probably appointed to the Council of Five Hundred for a year at the beginning of the fourth century, but such appointments were very common in democratic Athens.


The language of Aristophanes' plays, and in Old Comedy generally, was valued by ancient commentators as a model of the Attic dialect.


Aristophanes was very conscious of literary fashions and traditions and his plays feature numerous references to other poets.


Aristophanes was the equal of these great tragedians in his subtle use of lyrics.


Aristophanes appears to have modelled his approach to language on that of Euripides in particular, so much so that the comic dramatist Cratinus labelled him a 'Euripidaristophanist' addicted to hair-splitting niceties.


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.


Aristophanes believed that education and knowledge was a public service and that anything that excluded willing minds was nothing but an abomination.


Aristophanes concludes that all politicians that study rhetoric must have "doubtful citizenships, unspeakable morals, and too much arrogance".


The plays of Aristophanes are among the defining examples of Old Comedy.


An understanding of Old Comedy conventions such as the parabasis is necessary for a proper understanding of Aristophanes' plays; on the other hand, a sensitive appreciation of the plays is necessary for a proper understanding of the conventions.


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.


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.