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The Birds and Other Plays

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  821 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Offering a window into the world of ordinary Athenians, Aristophanes' The Birds and Other Plays is a timeless set of comedies, combining witty satire and raucous slapstick to wonderful effect. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Greek by David Barrett and Alan H. Sommerstein.

The plays in this volume all contain Aristophanes' trademark bawdy comedy and dazz
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 25th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published -414)
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Feb 24, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some people pride themselves on finding fart jokes and cock jokes unfunny. "It's the lowest form of humor!" they scoff, then try to direct you to something more sophisticated and mature. Well, it is refreshing to learn that fart jokes and cock jokes are precisely where Western humor began, and were good enough, indeed the specialty of, one of the greatest comic playwrights who ever lived. If elevated wit mixed with incisive social criticism are what you want, go read Bernard Shaw. If you want co ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Zelda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Well, that was enlightening. If you're someone who is concerned that Ancient Greece was all Oedipal complexes and gouged out eyeballs and such you'll be very relieved to read the plays of Aristophanes. Aristophanes isn't afraid of a dirty joke or scatological references or employing enormous fake phalluses as stage props. I know more about the personal grooming habits of the Ancient Greek women than I probably *needed* to know. I almost typed WANTED to know but then I realized that if someone ha ...more
Mar 13, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greek-comedy, satire
Was hoping, but not truly expecting, these would be funny plays. "The Birds" exceeded my hopes. Sitting outside by a swimming pool in Florida, surrounded by young adults on hedonism pilgrimages and even younger Spring Break'ers, I was the one laughing out loud. Oxford Classics editor Stephen Halliwell used different translators' versions of the four plays in this volume; this "Birds" was by Nan Dunbar, from 1995, and it made the play read as though it had been written two weeks ago.

I read "Lysis
Jun 24, 2010 Jesse rated it it was amazing
Aristophanes was not copied down through the ages because scribes thought he was funny, but rather for the peculiar Old Attic dialect used in the plays. Nevertheless, his plays represent the perennial virtues of comedy in their bombast and freedom of imagination - for instance, the setting of CloudCuckooLand in The Birds, and in Lysistrata the idea that the solution to war can be solved by boycotting penises. Where all past comedies appear antiquated, Aristophanes remains, to me at least, full o ...more
Markus Sakoschek
Aug 08, 2016 Markus Sakoschek rated it really liked it
A must read
May 06, 2016 Derek rated it it was ok
This volume wasn't as much fun as the others, especially in later plays as they moved toward New Comedy. There were a few good gaffes and some very clever ideas going on, but I wasn't really too excited. I didn't find 'Birds' to be that interesting, regardless of how recommended it is in literary circles in terms of famous Aristophanic plays. I thought 'Knights' was probably the best of the lot and I especially appreciated the dung beetle routine.

All-in-all, you could probably skip this lot of p
Jul 20, 2013 Caracalla rated it it was ok
Acharnians, Peace, Assemblywomen, Wealth. Acharnians is pretty good at times, probably the best peace play, although it's nothing like as good as stuff like the Frogs or the Thesmophoriozusae. Highlights include the first Euripides sketch extant and a pretty good assembly episode. Peace is substantially made up of thanksgiving songs (Peace of Nicias is basically being celebrated), apart from some okay stuff about using a dung-beetle to fly to heaven, this is obviously the weakest play extant.

Apr 28, 2015 Peregrine rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
only read The Birds. lemme tell you, Aristophanes is a heck of a lot more fun than Greek tragedies. it's funny to see that the human sense of humor has pretty much not changed at all in thousands of years.
Jan 24, 2016 Kiwinyx rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I very slowly tackled this one over the past month and while I was hoping to read all five plays, only The Knights and The Birds are the ones that held my interest. These two plays, especially The Birds, are incredibly witty and the humour translates well into modern day. They are also very scathing at times towards characters representing real people, usually politicians, of the day that Aristophanes truly disliked. He really enjoyed using this medium to target and ridicule his enemies. The int ...more
Apr 04, 2013 Sophie rated it liked it
Bought this for my Greek comedy course. I find I prefer Menander to Aristophanes, possibly because he is slightly easier to read! I do like the fantastical elements to Aristophanes' work but just sometimes feel it a bit hard going to read a whole play. (or in the case of my essay, as many as possible in a day :P) However, the translation is very good and I do think in performance it would be much more enjoyable.
Jan 17, 2015 Rosie rated it liked it
Funny in parts with the toilet humour etc. interesting insight into life in those times. Some of the plays do go on a bit though.
Nov 19, 2009 Evelyn rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, ancients
I only read The Birds. All potty humor...I guess people are people not only everywhere, but at every time.
Oct 24, 2011 Malinda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Malinda by: ENG 303 Classic Backgrounds: English Lit
Shelves: classics
Quite funny...rude...but funny! This was not what I was expecting from Greek comedy!
Read Lysistrata for a Greek civ course but want to read the rest of the plays as well.
Jul 17, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Aristophanes is a hoot. This book contains my favourite, The Birds.
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  • Electra and Other Plays
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  • Idylls
  • The Histories
  • The Comedies
  • A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society and Culture
  • Euthyphro/Apology/Crito
  • The Complete Odes and Epodes
  • Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4)
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  • Selected Letters
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  • Plays 5: Arcadia / The Real Thing / Night and Day / Indian Ink / Hapgood
  • The Sixteen Satires
  • The Poems
  • The Portable Greek Reader
  • Candida
Aristophanes (Greek: Αριστοφάνης; c. 446 BCE – c. 386 BCE) was a playwright of ancient Athens.

About 11 of his works are known in full, and they are the only plays of the "Old Comedy" style to have survived. They are The Acharnians, The Birds, The Clouds, The Ecclesiazusae, The Frogs, The Knights, Peace, Plutus (wealth), The Thesmophoriazusae, and The Wasps. These plays have been translated into m
More about Aristophanes...

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