The Clouds by Aristophanes

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"The Clouds" by Aristophanes - Relevant in Today's World

"The Clouds" by Aristophanes, is a play centrally concerned

with education. Aristophanes employs satire to illustrate his

conservative beliefs. It is intended to show readers that in the

tendency to philosophical subtleties lies the neglection of the

real needs of the Athenians. According to Aristophanes,

philosophical speculation only acts to shake the established

foundations of accepted religion, gods, and ideals of morality.

Specifically, as it was even discused in "The Apology,"

Aristophanes believed that philosophical attitudes held by the

Sophists enabled those who held them to convince others of wrong

or weaker beliefs simply by sounding as if they knew what they

were talking about -- when in reality they didn't. It seems as

if Aristophanes would approve of an education based souly around

the reading of clasiscal literature and some physical excersize.

I believe the fact that Athenian youth were starting to ask

questions of the elders in the city really bothered

Aristophanes. I think he really thought it to be dangerous and

detrimental to society; as can be seen through the line

Strepsiades yells towards the end, "revenge for the injured gods

(II.i.1506)." I believe Aristophanes to be part of the group

that accused Socrates of not accepting the recognized gods of

state, which many believed to be a part of the corruption of

Athenian youth. While I don't agree with that accusation --

primarily because of Socrates recognition of Apollo through the

Oracle at Delphi -- I can see some Aristophanes' points of

contention with what he thought the Sophists and other

philsophers stood for.

The Clouds, who form the chorus in Aristophanes' play, are a

physical representation of the "philosophical speculation" that

Aristophanes speaks of. According to Aristophanes, these

speculations do not come from a grounded sense of experience,

but rather float about without definite framework and

actualization, simply in the realm of possibility. I found it

interesting that Aristophanes chose to illustrate this metaphor

between the clouds and the Sophists' beliefs into a literal

representation. He furthered this illustration by choosing to

bring Socrates on his first appearance floating in on a basket

down to the stage.

Another aspect I find interesting in Aristoph...

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Essentially, I think that "The Clouds," can be a piece of

classical Greek literature applicable to our own modern world.

If we do not take the time to examine practices and beliefs,

they have the potential to lose the weight and value that they

were once based or formed on. While Aristophanes aimed at

entertaining his audience through comedic satire, he also had a

very serious warning -- that ended up holding true -- for the

people of Athens. A nation too proud and too sure in it's own

beliefs and politics, has proven through history, never to work.

Sadly, while I believe the United States is a great nation with

moral goals and hopes, I believe we exemplify some of the

problems that the Athenian state suffered from, and eventually

died from. We often times refuse to examine our beliefs. We

automatically view them as "the best," or "the most moral." This

can be seen in our current struggle. If we constantly

leave our borders to try and convince others around the world that

American knows best, we're doomed for failure. As exemplified in

"The Clouds," we then become the ones throwing stones at people

we don't agree with -- a fate almost worse than death.

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