Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Birds” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,464 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Birds is generally recognized as one of Aristophanes' masterpieces, for its imaginative plot (it is the source of the word "Cloudcuckooland"), and its charming and original lyrics. This abridgment of Nan Dunbar's widely acclaimed edition of Birds, published in 1995, preserves all the material designed to help the less advanced student of Greek or the non-specialist to tran ...more
Paperback, 552 pages
Published March 26th 1998 by OUP Oxford (first published -414)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Birds, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Birds

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Raven by Edgar Allan PoeI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouMake Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskeyHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
The Birds
70th out of 514 books — 79 voters
The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian AndersenThe Raven by Edgar Allan PoeJonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard BachA Spicing of Birds by Emily DickinsonMake Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Books About Birds
8th out of 201 books — 46 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 19, 2013 Praj rated it it was ok
Shelves: phanes

Nephelococcygia, a metropolis in air,
Zeus' cloudy nightmare,
Unlikely a bedroom scare
From a sparrow’s wild rare.

A respite between heaven and earth,
“An avian heaven”, says Pisthetaerus,
Flirting with the nightingale’s mirth
Hoopoe consents ; what a fucking putz!

Sacred chants float over the lustral waters,
The birds join the jubilant choir,
The peacock dancing in a tutu simply backfires,
It’s not an ass-whooping Le Ballet Noir!

The pelican, the spoon-bill, the horned-owl, the teal, the stormy petrel and
Elnaz yousefi
Jun 19, 2015 Elnaz yousefi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theater
من خصومت شخصيم با آريستوفان رفع نشده اما علت اينكه بسى لذت از اين كتاب بردم اينكه به شدت ياد مدينه فاضله عطار و منطق الطير نماد شخصيتى پرندگان و بالخصوص هدهد افتادم!!
Oct 27, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"PEISTHETAERUS: The Air's betwixt the Earth and the Sky.
And just as we, if we go to Pytho,
Must crave a grant of passage from the Boeotia,
Even so, when men slay victims to the Gods,
Unless the Gods pay tribute, ye in turn
Will grant no passage for the savoury steam
To rise through Chaos, and a realm not theirs."

The Birds is another one of my all-time favorites from Aristophanes, ranking amongst plays such as The Clouds and The Frogs- it simply is an imaginative work of art to behold compared to the
Rob Roy
Aug 23, 2012 Rob Roy rated it liked it
A bird city is built between men and the gods, and thereby everyone, man and god alike are humbled.
Feb 20, 2014 Allison rated it liked it
Shelves: reading-for-2014
I'm trying to read as many plays as possible within the next few days for a syllabus writing assignment, so it is possible that I did not give this play the time it deserves. I'd never read a Greek comedy before, though, so I was surprised by how close it is to modern comedy. It is somehow reassuring to know how far back fart jokes go through human history, and even if I didn't get all of the references, it was fun that people in ancient Greece were throwing around pop culture references. Consid ...more
Mar 24, 2014 Maggie rated it really liked it
"The Birds" was both witty and insightful about the nature of the Athenian dream: to live through play and not pay taxes. Though comical, it changes from a story of two men looking to escape their responsibilities, to their dream of a new world and overthrowing the gods, to the two men's domination. Ironically, much of their power was gained through a matter of others shrugging and doing their very best to avoid responsibility. I found that this play was both charmingly cheeky-- at a couple poin ...more
Ayşe Ecer
Feb 24, 2015 Ayşe Ecer rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Well, that was interesting...
Maria Ana
Aug 03, 2015 Maria Ana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teatro, greco-latinos
Gostei imenso. Continuo a afirmar que, por vezes, durante a minha leitura não consegui aproveitar a sua essência, devido à tradução do livro. Muito confusa em certos pontos. Observei alguns trechos em inglês e comparei com o Português, e gostei mais da versão em inglês, penso que estava bem conseguida e captava o sentido cómico da peça.
Achei o argumento bastante interessante, o facto de os personagens deixarem Atenas revela uma grande crítica ao modo de vida da época e os conflitos da sociedade
Elizabeth Pyjov
Dec 06, 2010 Elizabeth Pyjov rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-classics, plays
If you get a good translation, The Funniest book in the world!
Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
The important thing to note about this review is that I'm reading the version of the Birds that's subtitled "A Modern Translation by William Arrowsmith." If you read a translation by someone else it's likely you'll have a different experience - but then, a lot of your enjoyment of Aristophanes will depend on the translator's own sense of humor.

This is a text where it's critical to read the notes - not just for explanations but to get an idea of what Aristophanes is trying to make a joke about, b
Adam K.
Jul 13, 2011 Adam K. rated it liked it
I read William Arrowsmith's translation of this, and I enjoyed it more than I would have thought. I found myself drifting, as I often do with classical works that don't translate well into modern English, but Arrowsmith did a splendid job not only of translating it but also explaining his reasons for translating, giving very interesting insight into the process that I haven't had before. I had always thought that language translation was literal and word-for-word, requiring the translator basica ...more
Brian Schiebout
The Birds is a Greek comedy written by Aristophanes and translated by Benjamin Rogers. This play was first perfered in 414 BC during the middle of the Peloponnesian War. The main character is an old man named Peisthetaerus who with his friend Euelpides comes up with a scheme to replace the gods with birds so that they can set themselves up as the birds spokesmen. So they go up the mountain with this grand scheme where they are met by the hoopoe a bird that used to be Tersius who was a man. This ...more
Tory Wagner
Jul 11, 2014 Tory Wagner rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
This was a very readable translation with a good introduction by Dudley Fitts, the translator. While I found some of it quite humorous, some of it was perhaps so topical that it went right over my head. There were many slapstick moments that probably are more humorous when seen visually. In my mind, I saw Laurel and Hardy during these scenes. Like many plays, this was undoubtedly better when seen in person rather than simply read.
that cute little red-eyed kitten
I liked the comment to the prophet in the middle somewhere: "This oracle in no sort of way resembles the one Apollo dictated to me: 'If an impostor comes without invitation to annoy you during the sacrifice and to demand a share of the victim, apply a stout stick to his ribs'". Otherwise I'm sure this would be hilarious to the people of the time. To me, it's more confusing. But still ok. Pretty good, though weird.
Ksenija Popović
Oct 19, 2014 Ksenija Popović rated it liked it
I have to give it three stars because I read a Croatian translation that I really disliked. I should have definitely looked for an English one. Also, it wasn't easy to appreciate when I had to look up notes all the time in order to understand who was being mentioned (I haven't read like this since college, and I'm out of shape), but all that aside, it was an entertaining read, and some moments were hilarious.
Apr 03, 2016 D.L. rated it it was amazing
I scared the cats a couple times with my laughing. My favorite Aristophanes so far. The political references were less thick than usual (a nice break). And I'm pretty happy with a bunch of bird gods who will keep the pests out of your fields if you treat them right and shit all over your white tunic if you don't.
Colleen Earle
I still don't really know what to think of this play. Unlike the other plays I've recently read, I have seen this one preformed, which only adds to my confusion. Hopefully class will make my feelings for it more clear.
I neither like nor dislike the play.
Mar 22, 2016 Kathleen rated it it was ok
I am super not an Aristophanes person, you guys, but if you like some pretty dumb jokes that are secretly moderately clever satire of a society that doesn't exist anymore, BOY is this the play for you
Dec 06, 2011 Ensiform rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, greek
Translated, introduced and annotated by David Barrett. Due to the clever translation, this light satire had some laugh-out-loud lines. As drama, the plot was a little weak. Peisthetaerus' attempts to found the Cuckoo city are almost unopposed: he bests the gods too easily. But then this not a tragedy but a satire on manners, and ridicules oracles, lawmakers, court officials, rebellious youths and poets, among others. In addition, it's meant to be performed to amuse, not to be read and analysed. ...more
Mar 16, 2015 Stacy rated it really liked it
Read The Birds and The Frogs, two ancient Greek comedies by Aristophanes. Humor is definitely hard to carry over from one year to the next, much less thousands of years. However, overall I did find these to be somewhat funny, though I'm certain quite a bit went over my head. Fortunately, there were decent introductions to each play explaining what was happening and where some of the humor came from. The Birds resonated a bit more as involved a silly war and power struggles which are still happen ...more
Jun 29, 2015 Roya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
در سلطنت پرنگان بال خواهید داشت ، خوش و خرم زندگی خواهید کرد بی هیچ غم !
Nov 02, 2014 Madalena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
não tão bom quanto Lysistrata mas não deixa de ser fantástico, Aristófanes era um génio da comédia
Danger Kallisti
Mar 10, 2008 Danger Kallisti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classicists, the disaffected
Shelves: classics
It's always a challenge to try and translate anything from Classical Greek, and that goes double for comedies, rife as they are with double entendres and topical humor. While I've seen better English translations than this, it was still quite enjoyable.

After Lysistrata, I'd say that this competes with Plutus for my favorite play by Aristophanes. While the two plays share many common themes, this one has some points where the transition between Old and New comedy is made apparent. Of the two, I'
Rupertt Wind
Apr 24, 2014 Rupertt Wind rated it liked it
Its funny in a very different way
Jul 31, 2009 Jake rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
I'm not an afficianado of Greek theatre, but this one I found quite colorful. Commentary on different groups in society is achieved with different sets of...let's see, what was it? Oh yeah, birds.

It also introduced me to the importance of picking a good translation. Generally, it's best to stick with major publishers and translators with strong backgrounds in both the language and literature in general.
This is definitely a play where you want footnotes to explain all of the historical tie-ins.
Spenser White
If anyone tells you that there's too much crude language or lewdness in modern drama, throw this book at them, literally if you have to. Do I support the lewdness? No, but I did enjoy the rest of the play.
I really want to live in cloud-cuckoo land! I want to be a bird, where do I sign up? This play is really a political treatise (as all great comedies are) on why humans will never achieve a perfect society. Because there already is one and we see it everyday: The Kingdom of the Birds!
Jun 19, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it
I checked this out before seeing the LA Opera production of the opera based on the play - the play is a lot more pointed and silly/funny than the opera was. Opera was rather surrealist and dreamy. I plan to re-read some of his other plays...but am out of renewals so gotta give the book back to the library, where I guarantee no one will check it out for another two years.
Kristin Pedder
Excellent footnotes to help understanding, but I'm not a fan of Greek theatre so this is somewhat lost on me.
Feb 11, 2016 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, comedy, drama, humor, play
Plenty of humor that I'm sure would be better visually.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Iphigenia in Aulis
  • Women of Trachis
  • The Persians
  • Miles Gloriosus
  • Adelphoe
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...

Share This Book

“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; and this lesson saves their children, their homes, and their properties.” 2 likes
“A prudent person after all can pick something
Even from an enemy.”
More quotes…