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The Complete Plays of Aristophanes

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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,280 ratings  ·  68 reviews
A poet who hated an age of decadence, armed conflict, and departure from tradition, Aristophanes' comic genius influenced the political and social order of his own fifth-century Athens. But as Moses Hadas writes in his introduction to this volume, 'His true claim upon our attention is as the most brilliant and artistic and thoughtful wit our world has known.' Includes The ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Bantam Classic, 501 pages
Published 1988 by Bantam Books (first published -388)
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Nathan Jerpe
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jim
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient_greece, plays
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
...more
Andrew
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature-plays
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 ...more
Marquise
By far, my favourite Classical comedian.
Czarny Pies
Aristophanes is the founder of dramatic comedy in Europe. His marks can be seen very clearly on Shakespeare, Moliére, and many other dramatists. It is his style that dominates writing for modern comedy revues and television shows such as "Saturday Night Live". Aristophanes was the great master of parody, sexual innuendo and slapstick who first showed us how to use gross buffoonery for public entertainment.
Unfortunately, Aristophanes was extremely topical which makes it difficult for a modern
...more
sologdin
I like to think of Old Comedy as something like Monty Python and New Comedy as more Three's Company. Aristophanes is our best evidence of the former type: emphasis on topical political debate, direct attacks on persons in the polis, an uncensored scatological and sexual interest, handling of unreal and mythological settings and characters.

The most abiding interest here is protest against the Peloponnesian War, which shows up in all eleven plays in one way or another. Other interests are the
...more
Combeferre
I can't pretend to love Aristophanes' plays, but I do find them entertaining at times. However, my issue with this book is the translation specifically. Roche leaves out lines for no apparent reason, and mangles many of the jokes. Maybe this is just my bias as an American, but his choice to make the accented characters speak in Cockney is jarring at best. He occasionally translates sections well, but half of THOSE are followed by a footnote crediting the translation to Henderson of the Loeb ...more
Dmk
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this edition of aristophanes plays, introduction (to Aristophanes and to each individual play) are informative enough to let you understan play but not too long. Plays are in order of them being made and every play is full of really informative footnotes.

But not all Aristophanes plays are good and maybe collection of his best known plays would suffice.
Josh
(This review is written after reading The Acharnians, The Knights, The Clouds, and The Wasps. Ill 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
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 ...more
Michael
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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 ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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 ...more
Cat Noe
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Cat by: Nietzsche
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
...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
...more
Jen 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 ...more
Mitchell
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Stuart
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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 ...more
Mario
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
max
Jan 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greek, drama
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. Men 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 ...more
Mike
Dec 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Rebecca Manor
Reading Aristophanes, the father of comedy, is so much fun. Hes earthy to the point of crudeness, hilarious, and utterly human. I didnt 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 way ...more
Brendan
Aug 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ben
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
...more
Zachary Rudolph
"Tyranny and conspiracy? There you go again ... Its been a good fifty years since Ive even heard the word, but now its commoner than pickled herring. Just listen to the way it crops up in the marketplace. If someone buys perch and not anchovy, the anchovy seller in the next stall pipes up: What a disgrace! See him? He buys fish like a tyrant. And if he asks for an onion to pep up his sardines, See that? says the offended lady selling greens. He wants an onion because he wants to be a tyrant. He ...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 ...more
Matthew
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Terri
Jun 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Tasshin Fogleman
Read Clouds.
This edition is atrociously bad. No line numbers, references to things that happened after Ancient Greece, and the "bottom stretched".
Matthew
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
hilarious and ribald. truly a comedic master.
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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
...more

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