Aristophanes was an Athenian citizen and from an early age was immersed in the thick of the events of ancient politics. The Peloponessian War (431–404 BC) fell on his era, in which Athens fought with Sparta for hegemony in Greece. In total, the playwright wrote more than 40 comedies - 11 of them survived to our time. In the earliest surviving work of the Acharnians, Aristophanes cautiously opposes the war with the Spartans, which was favored by one of the founding fathers of the Athenian democracy, Pericles.
The following comedies by Aristophanes were also Pacifist: “Mir” and “Lysistrata”. The Athenians during this time survived a plague epidemic and several devastating invasions. If the “Akharnyans” were written against the background of the greatest military hysteria, then “Peace” was composed when not only simple peasants, but also large landowners wanted to end the war. In this comedy, Aristophanes mercilessly ridiculed the militarist party, whose leader was the successor to Pericles Cleon. Cleon, in which Aristophanes also walked in the Babylonians, was distinguished by radical views and populist devices. While pouring oil on the fire of the Peloponessian War, he naturally died in the battle of Amphipolis. Shortly after his death in 421 BC. er Nikiyev peace was concluded. The contradictions between the Greek policies, however, have not been resolved, and after six years, the war resumed.
Theater in ancient Greece. Image: ancientgreecefacts.com
In the Lysistrata, Aristophanes appeals to stop the bloodshed, not only to the Athenians, but also to other Greeks: Spartans, Corinthians and Beoteans. In addition, Lysistrata is a “female” play, women play key roles in it and criticize war. For his time, Aristophanes was distinguished by progressive views - in Athens women did not have political rights. In the comedy "Mir" found a place and fantastic features. According to the plot, the farmer Trighe flies to the sky on a dung beetle and with the help of Hermes frees the goddess of the World. The play also contains the god of war, the nymph and the demon of confusion.
Another fantastic comedy is “Birds”, where a bird kingdom is created between heaven and earth, the order in which is directly opposed to the Athenian one. "Birds" - the most voluminous work of the playwright. Moreover, it is a utopian tale. "Birds" for production in the Weimar Theater was processed by Goethe. Aristophanes was also a Utopian because, as a solution to pressing political problems, he proposed a return to the sources in the form of the ancient polis of the times of the war with Persia. It was impossible to do this for historical reasons, so the poet’s recipes remained unfulfilled.
Rider and birds. Laconian kilica. Image: thevintagenews.com
In addition to pacifist comedies, Aristophanes also wrote accusatory satirical works. The great French medieval satirist Francois Rabelais is often compared with him - the author of the novel “Gargantua and Pantagruel” also liked to resort to hyperbole and fantastic grotesque. In Osach, Aristophanes aimed his satire at the jury trial (and, if broader, at politicians who used the institutions of the Athenian democracy for mercenary purposes). The plot is as follows: the old man Filokleon constantly goes to court, which is why his son Bdelikleon first locks the father at home, and then arranges a home court hearing, which deals with the case of the dog who stole a piece of cheese. In the end, Philokleon loses his mind. The political system of his time, Aristophanes contrasted the democracy of the times of Marathon and Salamis - the era of the struggle with the Persians. Most Roman satirists, for example, criticized human vices. Aristophanes flagellated the vices of citizens, assuming the role of mentor to his compatriots.
The favorite character of the playwright was a small rural landowner. It was his views, interests and feelings that the poet most often reflected in his works. The gods of Aristophanes, in addition to "Peace", also appear in "Birds" (Poseidon) and "Frogs" (Pluto and Dionysus). Celestials in comedies were ridiculed on a par with mortals; priests and prophecies were portrayed in a parody image. In “Riches”, Zeus is envious - he interferes with the fair distribution of wealth among people. The techniques of Aristophanes were adopted and developed by the Voltaire of Antiquity, Lucian of Samosata (125–180).
Talia, the muse of comedy. Image: hellenicaworld.com
In Russia, interest in Aristophanes began in the 18th century. Trediakovsky and Sumarokov responded with respect to the ancient satirist. In the second half of the XIX century a large number of translations of the comedies of the ancient playwright into Russian came out. Herzen, remembering the works of Aristophanes, will say that “laughter is one of the most powerful tools against everything that has outlived and still holds, God knows what, an important ruin, making it difficult to grow fresh and frightening the weak.
Golovnya V.V. Aristophanes. - M .: Publishing House AN, 1955
Sobolevsky S.I. Aristophanes and his time. - M .: "Labiant", 2001
Yarkho V.N. Aristophanes - M .: State publishing house of fiction, 1954
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