‘The Frogs” by Aristophones

From my Classical Literature and Mythology class. I loved this class. All we did was read classical literature, talk about it, and write about it. The professor ran a great class. I hope he’s still teaching.

July 30, 2007

Classical Mythology and Literature                                                             Fourth Response Paper

            In The Frogs Aristophanes is comparing the writing styles of Euripides and Aeschylus. He does with by having them compete in a poetry reciting contest judged by Dionysus. He appears to favor the style of Aeschylus because he has Dionysus declare him winner of the contest. By winning, Aeschylus gets to leave Hades and return to Greece where he will “save that land” (1501) and make his people “good” (1487). The people are “mindless” (1504),   according to Pluto, and Aeschylus will save them by making them stop “fighting” (1531) through use of his poetry.

I say Aristophanes appears to favor Aeschylus because as he speaks through both poets he in turn criticizes the other poet, so he gets to criticize them both at the same time. According to Aristophanes Euripides is a “street bum poet” (842), a “gossipmonger” (841), a poet of “the lame” (846), excessively arrogant (when he prays to his Gods on line 891 he is actually praying to himself and to his perception of his own talents), and whose works must have “died” (869) along with him if he is able to recall them so well in Hades.

Aristophanes accuses Euripides of making plays that act “democratically” (951) because they give a voice to “slaves, women, and the virgin” (949) equal to that of “the ruler” (949) which did not occur in Greek society. Euripides encouraged women to drink “hemlock” (1050), which Aeschylus would never would have done because poets are supposed to “conceal the wicked” (1055) and only teach “good things” (1055). Euripides also taught the average person to “talk” (954), which is bad for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, but as punishment for doing so he must have his “tummy burst open” (955).

Though Aeschylus was declared winner of the contest his poetry is also is criticized. It “plumps up the glories” (833) or exaggerates battlefield accomplishments, it is “bombast-bundled” (835), is “pretentious and fake” (907), and can go “along, along” (920) without saying anything.

Aeschylus wins the contest because his poetry best exudes the Greek lifestyle of honor and courage. He created men who are “nobly born and tall,” “don’t doge duty,” and aren’t “loafers or low-lifes” (1015). His plays inspire men to be “warlike” (1022) which, in Euripides words, is a “crime” (1017). The Frogs is a funny comedy that belittles courage, witness the episode when Dionysus gets afraid and soils himself, while also extolling the heroic virtues of Greek society. 

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