Biography of Aristophanes

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Biography of Aristophanes *No Works Cited Aristophanes is considered by most scholars to be the foremost Greek playwright and poet of the old “Attic” style of comedy. He was born in 447 BC, in the deme of Cydathenaeum. He was known to be the son of Philippos, and he enjoyed the benefits of an aristocratic life and education. Little is known about the personal life of Aristophanes, but it was known that he served as a councilor early in the fourth century. He sired three sons, Philippos, Araos, and Nikostratos, all of whom became comedic playwrights upon reaching adulthood. He was characterized as a “joker and a lover of jokes” by Plato, and he was depicted as being at ease with the intellectual and social elite of Athens. One account reported that he was seen walking home with Socrates after a gathering debating whether a writer could pen both tragedy and comedy. It was also said that the renowned playwright lost enough hair during his twenties that he could be called bald. Aristophanes’ career spanned four decades and had the battle-worn, waning power of Greece as its backdrop. He was known to have authored forty-four plays attributed to him, eleven of which are extant. He staged his first comedy in 247, and his last was staged in 386. At the famed annual Dionysia festival held in Athens each March, Aristophanes won six first prize awards, four second prize awards and two last place awards. In a gesture unusual for the times, Aristophanes contracted a producer-director to stage his plays early and late in his career. Although Aristophanes was awarded an honorific crown of olive leaves for his advisory parabasis in Frogs in 405, his popularity was transitory. He lampooned every institution sacred to the Greeks. No person, ... ... middle of paper ... much music and dancing. There was a continuity of structure as it proceeded from prologue to exodus. Aristophanes’ comedies have endured as classic Greek Theater for many reasons. He originated comedy lampooning a specific political official, a form that has survived over a thousand years until today. He shaped the manner in which the history of his time is recorded. His opinions influence how history measures the leaders and thinkers of ancient Greece. Most of all, however, Aristophanes’ plays hold special relevance to twentieth century audiences, especially Western audiences. Although we love our democracy as the Greeks did, political intrigue has soured idealism for many. Many more can appreciate a playwright that can deal with these ironies while still reminding us how lucky we are to have that right, and how that is a test of how our governments function.
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