Aristophanes: The Complete Plays: The Complete Plays
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Aristophanes: The Complete Plays: The Complete Plays

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,156 ratings  ·  39 reviews
This new verse translation of Aristophanes' comedies offers one of the world's great comic dramatists in a form which is both historically faithful and theatrically vigorous. Aristophanes' plays were produced for the festival theatre of classical Athens in the fifth century BC and remarkably encompass the whole gamut of humor, from brilliantly inventive fantasy to obscene...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by New American Library (first published -388)
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Jim
This collection contains all eleven of Aristophanes' surviving comedies. Nowhere else are you likely to discover what the Athenian Man in the Street is thinking during the Peloponnesian War. At one point, in Plutus, we have a list of the things that the average Athenian craved the most. They included, in order: loaves, literature, sweets, honor, cheesecakes, manliness, dried figs, ambition, barley meal, command, and pea soup.

The two main themes that run across the comedies are a strong desire f...more
Nathan Jerpe
This is a review of the Bantam edition from the 80s, which contains all eleven surviving plays with translations by -

B. B. Rogers (1829-1919) x 4
R. H. Webb (1882-1952) x 3
Jack Lindsay (1900-1990) x 2
Moses Hadas (1900-1966) x 2 (also the editor)

First off, GR friends help me out here, where can I find more poetry like this? I've never seen anything like it. Does Aristophanes have any heirs in English? The editor cites Rogers as the first English translator who does him justice, but as far as I can...more
Andrew
While I have not read all the plays contained in the book, I thought I would start a review page and add each play's review as I go. Aristophanes (henceforth 'A') wrote what is called 'Old Comedy' in Ancient Greece. He lived at the time of Socrates. If you like modern day Monty-Python, you will like A. His comedy is very frequent in dialogue, often juvenile, and sex or 'potty' related. Greek plays usually have 'choruses' where a group of people would turn to the audience and sing, usually foresh...more
Patrice
I loved this. The translators did a terrific job. It must have been incredibly difficult and I'm sure I have missed something like 90% as so much is word play.
But I laughed out loud and that's pretty darn good for a 2500 year old joke! On top of that is some really terrific insight.

As I read these plays, which are downright filthy, I kept wondering about the Greek mind-set. What were they thinking? There is a kind of innocence about bodily functions yet they are still considered funny. At times...more
Michael
Jul 11, 2009 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophers, Pagans, drama students
Recommended to Michael by: serendipity
Shelves: classics, drama, satire
Well, at first I was thinking of only giving this two stars, but it did grow on me. Other reviewers have commented on the weakness of the translation, and as they are familiar with Greek and I am not, I tend to defer to them. The main problem I had was Hadas' insisting on picking translations that rhymed, which may retain the sound of an original Greek play but sacrifices the meaning and context - in general the rhyming comes out sounding very amateurish also, although some of the translations a...more
Mitchell
There are two strains of comedy: the comedy of situations and stories, and the comedy of satire which lampoons people and institutions. The first strains comes down to us from the New Comedy of Menander and the Roman playwrights through Shakespeare to the TV sitcoms of today. The second strain comes from Aristophanes and descends directly to the political comedy of Jon Stewart. As political comedy is often topical and ephemeral, reading the satires of earlier eras can be daunting and more work t...more
Matt
What I appreciated most about this version of Aristophanes was the effort gone into the translation by Paul Roche. The Introduction briefly lays out Roche's difficulties in maintaining the subtilties from a polysyllabic language into one seldomly so. His attempt to faithfully translate the Greek results in a deliberate recreation of the assonance, consonance, alliteration and rhyme found in the original text. Roche's numerous footnotes help assure the reader that the spirit and content of the tr...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 28, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Good Reading: 100 Signficant Books
Aristophanes is the great comic playwright of Ancient Greece, and set the standard and form of comedy in the Western World. Moreover, his plays are often cited in discussions of what ordinary life was like in the city of Athens in the times of Socrates. No less a figure than Plato accused Aristophanes' play The Clouds of contributing to the prosecution and death of Socrates. Aristophanes even appears in Plato's The Symposium as one of the guests. From The Birds we get the concept of Cloudcuckool...more
Erik Graff
Apr 05, 2009 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: drama
At the end of junior year in high school a number of us were taken on a field trip to the University of Chicago by, I think, Eric Edstrom, sponsor of my club, Tri-S (Social Science Society). At this point I had already had some contact with the university, having attended my first political demonstration there over a year before and having gone to a Phil Ochs concert on campus, not to mention innumerable visits to the Science and Industry Museum on its east end. The ersatz Gothic look and the wa...more
Well-steered
What I liked about it: The Birds, which is about two friends who get sick of living in Athens and convince a former king who now lives as a bird to build a whole bird city in the sky for them, is pretty good because it's not about arcane political machinations and you can imagine people today feeling the same. Lysistrata, which is about the women of Greece staging a sex strike in order to force an end to the Pelopennesian war, is also pretty funny, especially the scene where some of the ladies g...more
Josh
(This review is written after reading The Acharnians, The Knights, The Clouds, and The Wasps. I’ll read the rest after a break.)

These plays are guilty pleasures, but awfully important ones. Sure, you can analyze the elements of Old Comedy and how Aristophanes puts them to use, but it feels like you are spending more time analyzing the nice frame a painting is in, instead of the actual painting itself. The The Wasps and Old Comedy section on the Wikipedia page for The Wasps is so far from the joy...more
Stuart
Aristophanes was the master of ancient Greek comedy writing between 427 BC and 388 BC. The first thing that struck me was the bawdy humor. I was also surprised at some of the radical ideas in his plays (even if he is ultimately warning against some of these trends). There are the anti-war sentiments of "Acharnians", "Peace" and "Lysistrata". (Aristophanes like his heir Swift was a conservative arguing against war because it disrupted traditional society and trade. Quite the opposite of our moder...more
Mario
The plays were great, but some of the translations were awful. I'm not entirely sure who gets the credit for my rating, so I'll just split the difference.

The most offending translations, I think, were from Mosas Hadas (it's hard to remember since there were eleven plays by 4 different translators -- (Rogers, Webb, Hadas, & Lindsay)), but I think Hadas, the editor of my particular edition, was the worst offender. All of them attempted to translate in verse, which I appreciate, but that requir...more
max
Aristophanes is funny, sometimes outrageously so. In the Ecclesiazusae ("The Assemblywomen," a.k.a. "The Women of Parliament"), for example, a group of women sneak into the Athenian Assembly (Ecclesia) disguised as men and succeed in getting a measure passed that allows women to run the government. Man can sleep with any women they please as a part of this new regime, but they must sleep with an ugly women first. Aristophanes then plays this comic premise for all it's worth, and the result is hi...more
Ann Rufo
I hate ass humor so Aristophanes and I were at odds from the first fart. The last in the litany of Greek playwrights I am reading through, my friend Matt best captured how I felt about most of these plays when he called them "bawdy." I admit to blushing. I admit to feeling prudish. I admit to several re-reading of lines followed by "Oh my god!" and then quick glancing around the apartment to see if anyone had caught me reading this. No one had. I live alone.

But getting past my nervous prudish w...more
Cat Noe
Jan 14, 2014 Cat Noe marked it as reading-very-slowly  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worth-revisiting
This was one of Nietzsche's recommendations. In a typically enigmatic passage, he mentions the fact that Plato kept a volume of Aristophanes beneath his pillow when he died, out of all the books he might have chosen. He said that perhaps, given the state of Greek society at the time, Plato needed his Aristophanes.

I've been spending too much time in Russia lately anyhow. Off to the library!

So far, some of the best comedy I've come across in ages. While it's definitely cruder than I'm typically am...more
Mike
My puppet-show creating partner and I have been reading through several of these 2400-year old plays for source material for a new show. They are still quite entertaining after all this time. Aristophanes, like Shakespeare, can write great comic dialogue with lots of clever back-and-forth, usually in the first scene of his plays to warm up the audience. Then, he attacks the issue at hand, generally his problems with the Athenian government or with society in general. Whether he's inventing liter...more
Matthew
I only read "Wasps," because I'm going to be conducting Vaughan Williams. My first encounter with ancient Greek drama, not counting a brief run-in with "Medea" in high school that I don't remember very well. Fun. Strange, but fun. Interesting to imagine an art form that was current 2400 years ago.
Rebecca Manor
Reading Aristophanes, the father of comedy, is so much fun. He’s earthy to the point of crudeness, hilarious, and utterly human. I didn’t read the entirety of The Complete Plays of Aristophanes by I did read Birds, Clouds, Peace, and Frogs. It was the perfect selection to begin to encapsulate Aristophanes’ worldview as Frogs takes place in the underworld, Birds is a world created between Mount Olympus, home of the gods, and earth, while Peace is the story of one all-too-human hero who makes his...more
Linda
admittedly i've only read clouds, wasps and lysistrata from this and i have no desire to read anymore aristophanes ever again. i can appreciate the significance of his works and what they reveal about athens and greek culture but i just find that this kind of humour is insulting to my intelligence. not only does this kind of humour irritate me but it makes me sympathize with the aristocrats - what a nauseating person aristophanes seems to have been and really, if the demos loved this stuff, i wo...more
Brendan
Many years ago when I DJ'd at the worst club in Williamsburg a bummed out writer was in a conversation where he said, "Every literary agent in the world is less than scum." I started talking to him about life and comedy. At the time I was working back and forth with Ben as a comedy duo and he said, "So who's the Irishman and who's the Jew?"

Wow.

He had a book out at the time and he said that if I have any interest in comedy I needed to read Aristophanes. That was almost 3 years ago and I'm just no...more
Faye
As a proud prude, I found most of the sexual and potty humour in these plays rather un-funny, but I could see how they must have been entertaining to watch in an over-the-top Monty-Python-esque way. I did enjoy some of them - the Sausageman in Knights was lots of fun, Clouds had hilarious conversations with Socrates and his students that spoofed his circular arguments, and I especially enjoyed Frogs for its banter between Greek poets/playwrights Euripides and Aeschylus as they critiqued each oth...more
Terri
Also read this for my ancient Greek history class, and it's surprising what bawdy humor there was for such an old playwright. Puts Shakespeare to shame in terms of the sexual innuendo. I actually laughed out loud several times reading these plays and expected them to be a snooze.
James Benson
Occasionally humourous, I think this edition would have benefited considerably from annotation to help the reader along and put everything in context. I'm sure at least four out of five jokes went right over my head!
Mark Woodland
Not only is this on the list of must-read classical literature, these plays are extremely funny and many are still quite relevant. Euripedes was a keen observer of human behavior.
Shawn
This is definitely a case of poor translation making ancient stories completely unreadable. I could hardly follow what the heck was going on. This was terrible.
G.T. Burns
Old Attic Comedy

A reread for me. Personally I could stay in the circle of Greek life and never leave. I hope others will enjoy them.
Michael Fogleman
Read Clouds.
This edition is atrociously bad. No line numbers, references to things that happened after Ancient Greece, and the "bottom stretched".
JTobscure
More so for the bashful and retiring translation of Hadas was this given a low rating.
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  • Ten Plays
  • The Complete Plays
  • The Comedies
  • Tragedias
  • The Basic Works of Aristotle
  • The Misanthrope and Other Plays
  • Menander: The Plays and Fragments
  • Four Tragedies and Octavia
  • The Collected Dialogues
  • The Satyricon & The Apocolocyntosis
  • Ptolemy's Almagest
1011
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
More about Aristophanes...
Lysistrata Four Plays: The Clouds/The Birds/Lysistrata/The Frogs Clouds Frogs Lysistrata and Other Plays

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