Jim's Reviews > The Complete Plays

The Complete Plays by Aristophanes
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's review
Aug 07, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: ancient_greece, plays
Read from August 07, 2010 to May 10, 2011

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 for peace (The Acharnians and Peace) and women taking over because the men have made such a hash of things (Lysistrata and Ecclesiazusae). Socrates is taken down a peg in The Clouds; and we learn that making all good men wealthy can have untoward side-effects in Plutus. We hear men, women, gods, servants, housebreakers, scroungers, and even birds speak their minds.

I wish there were more current translations in this collection, which was first published in 1962, but, unfortunately, that is not likely in today's book-publishing environment. Still, the collection is edited by Moses Hadas, one of the great classicists of yesteryear. And old translations can be just as readable as newer ones, even if the language is more archaic.

If you have any interest in ancient Greece, this is a collection you must own and dip into from time to time, if for no other reason than to remind you that the men and women of Periclean Athens were human beings, just like you and me.
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08/07/2010 page 80
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04/02/2017 marked as: read
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message 1: by Mary Ronan (new)

Mary Ronan Drew I think I need a new edition also. My copy of Lysistrate has the Spartans speaking with a Scots accent.


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