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Aristophanes (c. 456 BC - c. 380 BC) was an ancient Greek playwright. Aristophanes only wrote comedy, often political satire, and his comedies are the only stage comedies which survive from ancient Greece. In all, 11 of his 40 works have come down to us today.[1] Among his works are the anti-war comedies The Acharnians and Lysistrata, the raunchy satire of Athenian jurisprudence entitled The Wasps, and a satire of the philosopher Socrates entitled The Clouds.

Aristophanes also appears as a character in Plato's Symposium. Plato's Symposium tells the story of a wine drinking party in ancient Athens, at which all the guests are required to make a speech in praise of love. Among the guests are Socrates, Alcibiades, and Aristophanes. Aristophanes tells a comedic tale to explain why some people are heterosexual and some homosexual.

By the time Aristophanes began to write his comedies, democracy had already begun to sour for the Athenians. The people were increasingly demoralized by the ongoing conflicts of the Peloponnesian War and the loss of their greatest hero, Pericles, had been taken from them and replaced by unscrupulous politicians such as Cleon and Hyperbolus. It is little wonder, therefore, that Aristophanes laughter is tinged, even from the beginning, with tones of apprehension and grief. [2]


Love is simply the name for the desire and the pursuit of the whole.

Men of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war.

Open your mouth and shut your eyes and see what Zeus will send you. [3]

Works by Aristophanes



  1. The New American Desk Encyclopedia, Penguin Group, 1989
  2. Aristophanes
  4. Great Books, Vol. 4, Euripides plays edited by David Barrett and Alan H. Sommerstein, page 649.