Aristophanes The Comic Writer Essay

1229 words - 5 pages


Aristophanes was a comic writer who lived between 450 and 385 BC and composed about forty plays in his lifetime. His plays were all comedies, which usually addressed very serious political and social issues in a direct and crude manner, which, like much of today's comedy, is what made them funny for the audience to watch and appreciate. Many of the comedies would even go as far as mocking members of the audience or making personal attacks upon contemporary political personalities. Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” is no exception to this crude comedy, ridiculing what he thinks is the absurdity of the Peloponnesian War. The comedy is a brilliantly constructed piece with an extremely profound underlying message encouraging a Panhellenic society. He does not see the point of the battles within the country and wishes a unification of the city-states. Therefore through his work he wishes to enlighten the people of Greece.
In order to understand the meaning behind Aristophanes’ play, some background history of the events leading up to the war is needed. There are three important occurrences, which ultimately led to the outbreak. It all started when Epidamnus (a colony of Corcyra) became involved in a political struggle. Democratic factions had taken control of the colony’s government and forced the aristocrats out of power. In retaliation for this action the aristocrats joined with barbaric forces and attacked the city and its surrounding areas. Seeking help, the colony sent a request to Corcyra, its motherland, for military intervention. Corcyra however refused to help the Epidamnians in their political struggle, and so the colony went to the city-state of Corinth for assistance. Being itself distantly related to the people of this colony, the Corinthians sent ships to suppress the violence. This move greatly displeased the Corcyraeans who saw the Corinthians as interfering with their affairs. So in turn, they sent their own ships to intercept the Corinthians. To counter the Corinthian action, the Corcyraeans made an alliance with Athens (who had a very bitter relationship with Corinth). Acting according to a duty to protect the Epidamnians and possibly just to stand up to the Athenians, the Corinthian fleet attacked the Corcyraeans anyway. The resulting engagement was won decisively by Corcyraeans because of the Athenian support. This act further embittered Corinth even more toward Athens.
The final straw leading up to the Peloponnesian War was when Potidaea, a member of the Athenian Empire revolted against Athenian rule. The city-state built blockades to resist occupation by the Athenian army and sparked revolt elsewhere in the area, in Chalcidice and Bottiaea. Since negotiations failed, the Athenians sent troops into the region by ship. However the Athenians also had their hands full with the Macedonians in the same region and had difficulty suppressing the revolt. When Athens finally made a treaty with Perdiccas, the Macedonian leader,...

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