The Birds and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)
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Five comedies from Ancient Greece that freely blend satire and slapstick
Offering a window into the world of ordinary Athenians, Aristophanes' The Birds and Other Plays is a timeless set of comedies, combining witty satire and raucous slapstick to wonderful effect. The plays in this volume all contain Aristophanes' trademark bawdy comedy and dazzling verbal agility. In The Birds, two cunning Athenians persuade the birds to build the utopian city of 'Much Cuckoo in the Clouds' in the sky, blockading the Olympian gods and installing themselves as new deities. The Knights is a venomous satire on Cleon, a prominent Athenian demagogue, who vies with a humble sausage-seller for the approval of the people; while The Assembly-Women deals with the battle of the sexes as the women of Athens infiltrate the all-male Assembly in disguise. The lengthy conflict with Sparta is the subject of Peace, inspired by the hope of a settlement in 421 BC, and Wealth reflects on the economic catastrophe that hit Athens after the war.
These lively translations by David Barrett and Alan H. Sommerstein capture the full humour of the plays. The introduction examines Aristophanes' life and times, and the comedy and poetry of his works, and this edition also includes an introductory note for each play.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
and his lovey-dovey. CHREMYLUS: And then ask you for the price of another pair of shoes. OLD WOMAN: And when I went in my carriage to the Great Mysteries, if anyone so much as looked at me, this boy would beat me bleck and blue the rest of the day. Thet’s how jealous he was. CHREMYLUS: Didn’t like handing round his sweets, eh? OLD WOMAN: He said may hands were truly beautiful. CHREMYLUS: Just as long as they had twenty drachmas in them. OLD WOMAN: And that may skin was ebsolutely fragrant.
The present one is on the word peplos, which means the robe presented to Athena (see note 52) and also the outer covering of a haggis. 100. Evidently tragic parody, but the source is unknown. 101. In the original this line is in Doric Greek; again presumably a parody of some familiar poetic phrase. 102. Quoted from the lost Bllerophon of Euripides. 103. Parodied from Euripides’ Alcestis (line 182). 104. We meet Phanus’ name in company with that of Cleon in The Wasps. He apparently
fighting–cock struts up to his father and says ‘Come on, raise your spur and fight’, it’s the most natural thing in the world. We admire his spirit. Have you been branded as a runaway? It won’t show – lots of us are speckled and banded; and a jailbird’s as good a bird as any. If you’re a Phrygian, like Spintharus, we’ll call you Phrygilus, the finch, a bird of impeccable ancestry. If you’re a slave, and a Carian one at that, like Execestides,16 never mind: we’ll soon find you a family tree to
patriotic duty. BLEPYRUS: Well, in the old days they used to say: it doesn’t matter how foolishly and crazily we decide to act, everything works out for our good in the end. CHREMES: Ye gods and holy Athena, let’s hope it will in this case! Well, I must be getting along; bye bye for now. BLEPYRUS: Bye bye, Chremes. [CHREMES goes off right, bound doubtless for the Agora, where there will be plenty to gossip about this morning. BLEPYRUS re-enters his house.] [The CHORUS re-enter cautiously
all the lawcourts and arcades converted into dining-halls. BLEPYRUS: What will you use the speakers’ platforms for? PRAXAGORA: They’ll make very good stands for the wine-jars and the mixing-bowls. And the children can get up there and recite poetry about the men who have fought bravely in the war. And about those who haven’t, so that they’ll be ashamed and stay away. BLEPYRUS: What a brilliant idea! And what will you use those lot-casting contraptions for?21 PRAXAGORA: I’ll set them up in the