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The Athenian playwright, Aristophanes

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The Athenian playwright, Aristophanes, has been considered to be one of the greatest writers of comedy in literary history. His plays have been used as sources for political and social history, as well as works of literature and drama.1 Throughout Aristophanes’ writings, he made particular use of politics, war, societal figures and women as main themes. When considering other historians of fifth century Athens and their accounts of society during that time, one can begin to fully recognize Aristophanes’ conservative political and progressive social views as well as the satiric nature of his plays. In extension, through analysis of his work and knowledge of fifth century Athens, one begins to wonder if Aristophanes was satirizing or critiquing their society and if he aimed to influence society through his plays or to create a superior form of entertainment.
Through my discussion, I will briefly summarize the domestic developments of Athens during Aristophanes‘ youth, analyze the themes of Aristophanes plays to prove he took a conservative standpoint in regards to politics but have progressive social views, as well as demonstrate that Aristophanes did attempt to influence society through his plays but failed. Throughout the course of my paper, I will also demonstrate the framework of politics and social order of fifth century Athens through comparing the political and social structures Aristophanes established in his works, to that of other historians during that time. By way of my examination, I aim to exemplify for my audience the foreign and domestic undertakings of fifth century Athens and how these developments influenced Aristophanes’ beliefs as well as his writings.
At the time of Aristophanes birth, between 450 and 455...

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...ys. Trans. by Alan Sommerstein. (2002), xiii.5 Thuydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. Penguin Classics. Trans. By Re Warner. (1954), 212.6 Thuydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. Penguin Classics. Trans. By Re Warner. (1954), 87, 103 & 108. 7 Clyde Curry, “Aristophanes” Magill’s Survey of World Literature (2009; Salem Press), 5.8 Aristophanes, Lysistrata and Other Plays. Trans. by Alan Sommerstein. (2002), xi.9 Thuydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. Penguin Classics. Trans. By Re Warner. (1954), 219 & 222.10 Thuydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. Penguin Classics. Trans. By Re Warner. (1954), 222.11 Philip Walsh, “A study in reception: the British debates over Aristophanes’ politics and influence,” Classical Receptions Journal 1, no. 1 (2009): 55. 12 Clyde Curry, “Aristophanes” Magill’s Survey of World Literature (2009; Salem Press), 3.
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