The Eleven Comedies
Complete Eleven Comedies in One Volume
Aristophanes (c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme Kydathenaion, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete. These, together with fragments of some of his other plays, provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy, and are used to define it.
Also known as the Father of Comedy and the Prince of Ancient Comedy, Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author. His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries; Plato singled out Aristophanes' play The Clouds as slander that contributed to the trial and subsequent condemning to death of Socrates although other satirical playwrights had also caricatured the philosopher.
His second play, The Babylonians (now lost), was denounced by the demagogue Cleon as a slander against the Athenian polis. It is possible that the case was argued in court but details of the trial are not recorded and Aristophanes caricatured Cleon mercilessly in his subsequent plays, especially The Knights, the first of many plays that he directed himself. "In my opinion," he says through the Chorus in that play, "the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all."
The Eleven Comedies each with introductions, texts and notes
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Aristophanes, (born c. 450 bc—died c. 388 bc), the greatest representative of ancient Greek comedy and the one whose works have been preserved in greatest quantity. He is the only extant representative of the Old Comedy, that is, of the phase of comic dramaturgy in which chorus, mime, and burlesque still played a considerable part and which was characterized by bold fantasy, merciless invective and outrageous satire, unabashedly licentious humour, and a marked freedom of political criticism. But Aristophanes belongs to the end of this phase, and, indeed, his last extant play, which has no choric element at all, may well be regarded as the only extant specimen of the short-lived Middle Comedy, which, before the end of the 4th century bc, was to be superseded in turn by the milder and more realistic social satire of the New Comedy.
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