Aristophanes and socrates relationship

The Clouds - Aristophanes - Ancient Greece - Classical Literature

aristophanes and socrates relationship

One of the most interesting riddles of Athens of the fifth century B.c. is the relationship between Socrates, the iconoclastic teacher, and Aristophanes, the. relationship between the two must be discovered through retracing steps in important to understand who Aristophanes and Socrates were and evaluate the. Pl ato's “Symposium” describes a possibly fictitious dinner party (30+ years after it would have taken place) attended by both Aristophanes and Socrates. Plato.

Socrates has taught Pheidippides to have no respect for authority or tradition. Aristophanes shows Socrates to have no desire to reconcile the dichotomy between tradition and new age thought. Socrates seems to only be interested in furthering his ideals, and not respecting or valuing the old way of life. At the end of the play, Pheidippides has no care for horses, which caused much debt in the family, or for his father, who he loved deeply before going to school.

Pheidippides became a totally different person after learning the ideas of Socrates. People like Socrates are planning to revolutionize the minds of the young, which will indeed revolutionize society as a result. Strepsiades wakes his son to tell him of his plan to get out of debt.

Aristophanes' Clouds Summary Part 1

Pheidippides will not be persuaded, though, and Strepsiades eventually decides to enrol himself, in spite of his advanced age. At The Thinkery, Strepsiades hears about some of the recent important discoveries made by Socrates, the head of the school, including a new unit of measurement for ascertaining the distance jumped by a flea, the exact cause of the buzzing noise made by a gnat and a new use for a large pair of compasses for stealing cloaks from pegs over the gymnasium wall.

Impressed, Stepsiades begs to be introduced to the man behind these discoveries, and Socrates appears overhead in a basket he uses to observe the Sun and other meteorological phenomena. The philosopher descends and inducts the new elderly student in the school in a ceremony which includes a parade of the majestic singing Clouds, the patron goddesses of thinkers and other layabouts which become the Chorus of the play.

aristophanes and socrates relationship

The Clouds declare that this is the author's cleverest play and the one that cost him the greatest effort, praising him for his originality and for his courage in the past in lampooning influential politicians such as Cleon. They promise divine favours if the audience will punish Cleon for his corruption, and rebuke the Athenians for messing about with the calendar and putting it out of step with the moon. Socrates returns to the stage, protesting about how inept his new elderly student is.

He attempts one further lessons, directing Strepsiades to lie under a blanket in order to encourage thoughts to arise naturally in his mind. Aristophanes however had singled Cleon out for special treatment in his previous play The Knights in and there are relatively few references to him in The Clouds.

Freed from political and war-time issues, Aristophanes focuses in The Clouds on a broader issue that underlies many conflicts depicted in his plays — the issue of Old versus New, or the battle of ideas. Anaxagoraswhose works were studied by Socrates, was living in Athens when Aristophanes was a youth.

Anaxagoras enjoyed the patronage of influential figures such as Periclesbut oligarchic elements also had political advocates and Anaxagoras was charged with impiety and expelled from Athens around BC.

The battle of ideas had led to some unlikely friendships that cut across personal and class differences, such as between the socially alert Pericles and the unworldly Anaxagoras, and between the handsome aristocrat, Alcibiadesand the ugly plebeian, Socrates. Socrates moreover had distinguished himself from the crowd by his heroism in the retreat from the Battle of Delium and this might have further singled him out for ridicule among his comrades.


There is some support for his opinion even in the modern age. Moreover, the trial of Socrates followed Athens' traumatic defeat by Sparta, many years after the performance of the play, when suspicions about the philosopher were fuelled by public animosity towards his disgraced associates such as Alcibiades.

However, it is still possible to recognize in him the distinctive individual defined in Plato's dialogues. The Aristophanic Socrates is much more interested in physical speculations than is Plato's Socrates, yet it is possible that the real Socrates did take a strong interest in such speculations during his development as a philosopher [19] and there is some support for this in Plato's dialogue Phaedo 96A.

It has been argued that Aristophanes caricatured a 'pre-Socratic' Socrates and that the philosopher depicted by Plato was a more mature thinker who had been influenced by such criticism.

References in the same parabasis to a play by Eupolis called Maricas produced in BC and criticism of the populist politician Hyperbolus who was ostracized in indicate that the second version of The Clouds was probably composed somewhere between —16 BC. The parabasis also includes an appeal to the audience to prosecute Cleon for corruption.

aristophanes and socrates relationship

Since Cleon died in it can be assumed that this appeal was retained from the original production in and thus the extant play must be a partial revision of the original play.

Old Comedy conventionally limits the number of actors to three or four, yet there are already three actors on stage when Superior and Inferior enter the action and there is no song at that point that would allow for a change of costume. The play is unusually serious for an Old Comedy and possibly this was the reason why the original play failed at the City Dionysia. A typical Aristophanic Chorus, even if it starts out as hostile to the protagonist, is the protagonist's cheer squad by the end of the play.

In The Clouds however, the Chorus appears sympathetic at first but emerges as a virtual antagonist by the end of the play. The play adapts the following elements Old Comedy in a variety of novel ways.

What did Aristophanes think of Socrates?: Aristophanes' Socrates

The arrival of the Chorus in this play is unusual in that the singing begins offstage some time before the Chorus appears. It is possible that the concealed Chorus was not fully audible to the audience and this might have been a factor in the original play's failure. The parabasis proper lines —62 is composed in eupolidean tetrameter rather than the conventional anapestic tetrameter.

Aristophanes does not use eupolideans in any other of his extant plays. However the second parabasis —30 is in a shortened form, comprising an epirrhema in trochaic tetrameter but without the songs and the antepirrhema needed for a conventional, symmetrical scene.