Aristophanes vs. Thucydides

Topics: Classical Athens, Pericles, Peloponnesian War, Ancient Greece, Sparta, Plato / Pages: 6 (1282 words) / Published: Oct 10th, 2012
Exam 3, response to question 2 , Aristophanes and Thucydides.
Briahna Miner 3704138
December 13th 2011
Aristophanes and Thucydides both wrote during the Peloponnesian War, the former wrote comic plays and the latter wrote a more serious account of what was happening. Although they were authors of two very different forms of literature they had the common tie of being critical of democracy and blamed it’s downfalls for the Athenian loss of the war. They looked at the same facts about the same events threw different lenses. Aristophanes was much more emotional in his criticism of the war and its causes since his family had been forced from their farm which was near Athens into the city itself. Thucydides, on the other hand, gave a more sophisticated account of the war, he was careful to not exaggerate. With these two authors we have history and comedy coming together to make the same analysis of the Peloponnesian war, the analysis of course being that Athenian democrats and their failures caused the war and resulted in the defeat of Athens.
Aristophanes, who grew up on a wealthy farm near Athens, was forced to move into the city at the outbreak of the war against Sparta. There he spoke out for those who had lost their land. He believed these were the people who had given up the most for the war, his obvious admiration for the countryside makes its way into his beloved works. His plays were extremely popular and won him awards at the festival of Dionysus more than once, though one play also lead to him being tried for treason as him shamelessly insulted Cleon, a supporter of the war and a politician Aristophanes detested. As his time progressed, Aristophanes’ disillusionment with the war progresses with it. He becomes ever more tired of war and the politicians who support it. He brutally bashes the ruling class for causing the generation long war, portraying them, in his play ‘Knights’ as manipulating tricksters who have little use of education. When talking to

Cited: Aristophanes. "Acharians." The Complete Plays of Aristophanes. Trans. B.B. Rogers. New York: Bantam Books, 1962. 15-51. Print. Aristophanes. "Knights." The Complete Plays of Aristophanes. Trans. R.H. Webb. New York: Bantam Classic, 1962. 55-100. Print. Pomeroy, Sarah, et al. "The Peloponnesian War." Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. second. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 316-59. Print. Thucydides. "Sedition in Corcyra (427 b.c.)." The Portable Greek Histories. Trans. M.I. Finley. New York: Viking Penguin Inc., 1959. 290-98. Print.

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