Aristophanes The Clouds Analysis

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Of the many writings that once existed on Socrates, only a few have actually survived entirely. One of them is a play written by Socrates’ contemporary Aristophanes on 423 BCE. In his comedy “The Clouds”, Aristophanes ridicules the character of Socrates on stage for all of Athens to see and enjoy. Despite the fact that “The Clouds” survived entirely, its reliability becomes complex and questionable due to the inconsistency with the writings of Socrates’ other contemporaries, as well as with the Athenian definition of what exactly a comedy comprises of, and yet it’s possible that in addition to entertainment, the exaggerated and vulgar play may of also played an important role in bringing forth the accusations that led to his death. Even …show more content…
Essentially everything that the public saw as dangerous and ridiculous (Johansen 127).Clearly, Aristophanes’ revision was most successful as the public accepted it as their only opinion of who Socrates was. However, time seemed to play an important role in Socrates’ trials as the play was ultimately used as a reason to blame him for all of the wickedness after the war (Johansen 127). On the other hand this is not what his other contemporaries say about him, in fact there are other writings that seem to contradict The Clouds. For example, Plato characterizes Socrates as a virtuous and saintly man, even Xenophon speaks highly of him by referring to him as a model of rectitude (Navia 32). In addition, within Plato’s Apology, Socrates even mentions a “writer of comedies” responsible for the accusations that led to the charges against him (Apology 18d). Moreover, there is further evidence that suggests Socrates had an antagonistic relationship with many playwrights including Aristophanes. Where Socrates questions Aristophanes and states that “what they composed they composed not by wisdom” (Apology 22b).
The Clouds, the revision by Aristophanes is clearly not a reliable source of information in determining the true identify of Socrates. It is a comedy, which as the name states is simply an imitation of characters combined with exaggerated and vulgar humor in order to make them seem ridiculous. Even the fact that the original was basically a failure supports the conclusion that the revision of the clouds is simply an over exaggeration or maybe even Aristophanes own way of opposing Socrates and the rest of the

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