Aristophanes' Wasps (422 B.C.) is an entertaining comedy that plunges us into the life of a family in classical Athens, while treating themes that readers of any time and place can appreciate. A father and son argue about politics, household servants try to please their master, a disruptive gang of the father's friends decide to intervene, a dog becomes a lightning-rod for his antics in the kitchen, attempts are made at reform and reconciliation, and it all ends with a drinking party that goes disastrously wrong. The father, Philocleon, and his friends, the chorus of wasp-like old men for whom the play is named, are some of the great creations of comic drama. The characters of the Wasps make constant references to the everyday world they are living in: its political demagogues, court system, religious rituals, social niceties, class distinctions, diseases, clothes, food, toilets, paychecks, geography, weather, household items, literary and mythological allusions, military experiences, and much more. These references give the play its immediacy, but their unfamiliarity to modern students can pose a challenge. This edition provides a full introduction devoted to the political, social, and literary background of the play, as well as notes to the text explaining historical details.
Originally adapted for the stage, Peter Meineck's revised translations achieve a level of fidelity appropriate for classroom use while managing to preserve the wit and energy that led The New Yorker to judge his Clouds "The best Greek drama we've ever seen anywhere." and The Times Literary Supplement to describe his Wasps as "Hugely enjoyable and very, very funny." A general introduction, introductions to the plays, and detailed notes on staging, history, religious practice and myth combine to make this a remarkably useful teaching text.
In 'The Wasps' an old-fashioned father and his loose-living son come to blows--and end up in court; elsewhere Aristophanes milks the clash of generations for all it is worth by sending up the purveyors of new ideas like Socrates and Euripides (the most controversial of the great tragedians). In 'The Poet and the Women' Euripides, accused of misogyny, gets a relative in drag to infiltrate an all-woman festival and find out what revenge is being plotted, with predictable bawdy results. In 'The Frogs, ' written in the darkest days of the Peloponnesian War, the god Dionysus descends to the Underworld to find a poet to bring back: does Athens in her hour of danger need the traditional wisdom of Aeschylus or the brilliant modern cleverness of Euripides? As the great debate proceeds, Aristophanes combines parody with slapstick and political discussion with pantomime high spirit, to produce a hilarious and unique masterpiece.
This volume represents a thorough re-evaluation of Aristophanes' Wasps, including a complete, independent collation of the manuscripts, an introduction that orients readers to fundamental information on the play, and an extensive commentary, making this a new critical edition which will be a starting point for all further research on the play, and will serve readers and scholars for decades to come.
Reissue of Aristophanes' most famous plays in the Methuen Classical Greek Dramatists series Aristophanes is the oldest comedic writer in Western literature. Although only eleven of the some forty plays he wrote survive, his unique blend of slapstick, fantasy, bawy and political satire provide us with a vivid picture of the ancient Athenians - their social mores, their beliefs and their exuberant sense of occasion. Wasps is a lawcourt satire, Clouds a lighthearted look at education, Birds a search for the perfect society, Festival Time a feminist trial of Euripides and Frogs a celebration of and debate around the theatre.Aristophanes was a unique writer for the comic stage as well as one of the most revealing about the society for which he wrote.