A: Aristophanes Pf: 405 bc, Athens Tr: 1785 G: Greek com. in verse S: The outskirts of Athens and the underworld, early 5th c. bc C: 10m, 3f, extras, 2 chorusesDionysus, the god of tragedy, is on his way to the underworld in search of Euripides, who has only recently died. He has disguised himself ineffectually as Heracles in an attempt to ward off danger. Undeterred by fearful warnings from the real Heracles, he reaches the lake bordering the underworld and is ferried across by Charon, while engaging in a verbal exchange with a chorus of frogs. In the underworld he first encounters a chorus of initiates. Then, arriving at the door of the palace of Pluto, the god of the underworld, Dionysus alternately forces his slave to wear the Heracles disguise and then assumes it himself, culminating in their being beaten in an attempt to discover which is the genuine immortal. When it is discovered that Dionysus has arrived in the underworld, Pluto asks him to judge a contest between the newly arrived Euripides and the great Aeschylus to establish which is the weightier tragedian. After a prolonged contest, Aeschylus is found to offer sounder political advice, and Pluto generously allows him to return with Dionysus to the world of the living.
A: Aristophanes Pf: 405 bc, Athens Tr: 1785 G: Greek com. in verse S: The outskirts of Athens and the underworld, early 5th c. bc C: 10m, 3f, extras, 2 choruses
Frogs was performed just months before the collapse of the Athenian state caused by their final defeat at the hands of Sparta, and represents Aristophanes' last-ditch attempt to remind his fellow Athenians of their noble spiritual heritage. It was so successful that it is the only ancient Greek play known to have been granted a repeat performance by public acclaim. Sadly, its theatrical success, as so often in the history of drama, seems to have had little effect on the politicians. Frogs is also notable because it contains the first discussion of theatrical quality, some three-quarters of a century before Aristotle's Poetics, offering invaluable insights into the staging and reception of Greek tragedy.