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Clouds


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A: Aristophanes W:c.418 bc Pf: 423 bc, Athens Tr: 1708 G: Greek com. in verse S: The household of Strepsiades near Athens, and Socrates' academy in Athens, 5th c. bc C: 11m, extras, chorusThe farmer Strepsiades is married to an aristocratic woman, whose expensive tastes have been inherited by their only son, Pheidippides. Consequently Strepsiades is now in debt, and, in order to evade his creditors, decides that Pheidippides should attend Socrates' academy, so that he may learn how to argue his way out of trouble. Pheidippides refuses to go back to school, so Strepsiades attends the academy himself. Socrates appears, floating serenely above the ground, and encourages Strepsiades to turn away from earthly things and worship the Clouds, who form the chorus. However, Strepsiades proves to be a very inferior pupil and is expelled. His son is sent to study in his place, and after watching a contest between Right, representing traditional values, and Wrong, representing modern sophistry, Pheidippides predictably elects to be educated by Wrong. Although this equips him to outwit his creditors, he ends up by striking his father and championing the new poets. Strepsiades is so dismayed that he sets fire to Socrates' school and drives him and his students away.

A: Aristophanes W:c.418 bc Pf: 423 bc, Athens Tr: 1708 G: Greek com. in verse S: The household of Strepsiades near Athens, and Socrates' academy in Athens, 5th c. bc C: 11m, extras, chorus

Imbued with conservative values and his love of Aeschylus, Aristophanes expresses his disdain for the clever philosophy of Socrates and the cynical viewpoint of his contemporary, Euripides. Aristophanes not only misrepresents Socrates' philosophy but also asserts that he is a charlatan and attacks him for his homosexual proclivities, naming leading figures of contemporary Athenian society as his lovers. Socrates was to blame Aristophanes for defaming him when Socrates was tried for impiety in 399 bc. The text of Clouds that we now have is a revised version, written some five years after its first performance.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Aristophanes (c. 448—380 bc) Greek comic dramatist


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