Comp. Plays/Aristoph

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Bantam Books, Mar 1, 1984 - Drama - 501 pages
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Contents

Section 1
7
Section 2
13
Section 3
14
Copyright

12 other sections not shown

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About the author (1984)

ARISTOPHANES, the most famous comic dramatist of ancient Greece, was born an Athenian citizen in about 445 B.C. Forty-four plays have been attributed to Aristophanes; eleven of these have survived. His plays are the only extant representatives of Greek Old Comedy, a dramatic form whose conventions made it inevitable that the author would comment on the political and social issues of fifth-century Athens. This Aristophanes did so well that Plato, asked by the tyrant of Syracuse for an analysis of Athenians, sent a copy of Aristophanes' plays in reply.
    
His earliest play, the Banqueters, won the second prize in 427 B.C. when the dramatist must have been less than eighteen years old, since, as he notes in the Clouds (423), he was too young to produce it in his own name. Another early play, the Babylonians, criticized the demagogue Cleon, who responded by subjecting Aristophanes to legal persecution, and as the author charges in the Acharnians, Cleon had "slanged, and lied, and slandered and betongued me . . . till I well nigh was done to death." Nevertheless, in the Knights (424), he renewed his attack on the popular Athenian leader and won first prize in that year's contest. Plutus (388) was the last of the author's plays to be produced in his lifetime.

AESCHYLUS: A complete fifth-century Athenian, he was the creator of her proudest artistic achievement, tragedy. By using more than one actor he changed the form of plays from recited poetry to true dramatic dialogue, thereby making possible the sweeping grandeur of his great trilogy, THE ORESTEIA.

SOPHOCLES: The most popular tragedian of the Golden Age, he expanded the scope of classic drama by his technical innovations and lyric intensity, leaving the world such masterpieces as ANTIGONE and OEDIPUS THE KING, the play Aristotle called the perfect model of Greek tragedy.

EURIPIDES: A prolific author, Euripides wrote some one hundred plays. In contrast to his contemporaries, he brought an exciting-and, to the Greeks, a stunning-realism to the "pure and noble" form of tragedy. His influence altered drama forever, and he is regarded today as the originator of modern dramatic sensibility.

ARISTOPHANES: The most famous comic playwright of ancient Greece, he wrote what are now the only extant representative of Greek Old Comedy. His three outstanding characteristics-gross obscenity, exquisite lyricism, and a serious concern for decency and morality-may seem a strange combination to the modern reader. Aristophanes is still regarded by modern audiences as a master of risqué wit and brilliant comic invention.

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