Aristophanes Essay

1327 words - 6 pages

The Birds and The Frogs, written by Aristophanes, show a strong dichotomy between the pragmatic and romantic. This dichotomy is prominent in both stories because it voices a perspective on the evolution of Greek culture. Although written for entertainment, many of the punchlines refer to the real life triumphs and crises of Greece. For example; both plays were written during the 4th Century BCE, during which, Athens was on the brink of war with Sparta. The crisis in Athens is used as a plot point in both plays, with many characters desperately trying to find a way to resolve this conflict or run away from it. This relates back to the dichotomy. In The Birds, the characters of Pisthetairos and Euelpides start off with the intention of running away from the possible destruction of Athens. They represent the pragmatist who decide face this possible reality. In The Frogs, the satirized version of real life Greek poet, Aeschylus, is obsessed with idealizing Greece, and believes that Athens can save itself from despair. He is represents the romantic who refuses to face this possible reality.Although both perceptions are subjective, both plays depict those who have this idealistic and impractical attitude, are the ones who actually succeed in their objectives. These characters triumph because of their obsession with preserving these romantic concepts instead of accepting a more realistic perception. This leads the character to be resolute.
In The Frogs, the agon is used, in order to convey a political commentary on how pragmatism in Athens is useless. The agon is a debate or formal argument constructed as a 'symmetrical scene', with two declaimed sections and two songs. The protagonist generally defeats the antagonist in the debate and this decides the outcome of the play long before the play actually ends. This contrast is shown through the satirical philosophies of Euripides and Aeschylus. The dialogue between the two writers, provides commentary as to whether Greek society should be glorified to fit this great ideal, or be perceived as what it is, flaws and all. But either way it’s apparent that both perceptions have their own detriments. This is represented through the fictionalized versions of Euripides and Aeschylus. In the story, the greek god Dionysus travels to Hades and has to decide whether he should take Euripides or Aeschylus (two of the most renowned Greek poets/writers) back to the mortal world. In order to come to a decision, Dionysus initiates an agon between them, asking for their opinions on various issues that have deteriorated Athens. Euripides gives rather meaningless answers such as; “I hate a citizen who helps his native land by seeming slow, but then will quickly inflict injuries which profit him but give our city nothing.” (Frogs 577). This is because Euripides is uncertain about the future of Athens. He’s apart of an era of Greece, that believed in exploring a more complex culture and dynamics while taking more...

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