New comedy

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Methuen Drama, Mar 14, 1994 - Drama - 226 pages
An essential book for students of Greek drama and literature: Aristophanes is widely regarded as one of Ancient Greece's foremost satirists - offering students of the period a unique insight into the world of Athens and its theatre Written in the century following the defeat of Athens by the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War, these four plays signal a change of emphasis in stage comedy more appropriate to the new world order of the fourth century BC. Women in Power and Wealth complete the cycle of Aristophanes' extant plays begun in Aristophanes Plays: One and Two, translated by Kenneth McLeish and J Michael Walton. These editions provide full introductions; discussing the plays and placing them in their political and social context. Aristophanes was a unique writer for the comic stage as well as one of the most revealing about the society for which he wrote.

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User Review  - the.ken.petersen - LibraryThing

I know that good comedy transgresses its age, but maybe two and a half thousand years tests this theory to destruction. I found this hard work and, whilst I could see some of the jokes - and even ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

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.

The late Kenneth McLeish studied Classics and Music at Worcester College, Oxford. After starting as a schoolteacher, he became a full-time translator, author and dramatist. His original plays and his translations from ancient drama, as well as from Strindberg, Ibsen and Feydeau, have been widely performed, most notably by the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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