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Frogs and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 1 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (1 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449693
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Aristophanes was born, probably in Athens, c. 449 BC and died between 386 and 380 BC. Little is known about his life, but there is a portrait of him in Plato's Symposium. He was twice threatened with prosecution in the 420s for his outspoken attacks on the prominent politician Cleon, but in 405 he was publicly honored and crowned for promoting Athenian civic unity in The Frogs. Aristophanes had his first comedy produced when he was about twenty-one, and wrote forty plays in all. The eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes are published in the Penguin Classics series as The Birds and Other Plays, Lysistrata and Other Plays, and The Wasps/The Poet and the Women/The Frogs.

Translated by David Barrett

Revised Translation with an Introduction and Notes by Shomit Dutta


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 3 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
This edition is based on an old translation by David Barrett (1964) lightly revised and updated. It works well to give us a sense of the spirit of Aristophanes' originals and, while Barrett doesn't attempt to follow the Greek metrics, does make good use of English rhythmics and metres such as the limerick rhymes for some of the chorus speeches in The Frogs.

The introduction contextualises the plays in terms of theatrical conventions and, lightly, against the historical context - and the notes are good on contemporary political references.

Aristophanes' `old' comedy is closest to our political/social satire such as Private Eye, and Have I Got News For You, and so a sense of recent political events in the Peloponnesian war and key Athenian public figures is essential to `get' the jokes - which remain both scurrilous and very funny.

The Frogs, especially, also sites itself against literary tropes and conventions such as the `katabasis', the heroic descent into the underworld that we witness in the stories of, for example, Odysseus, Theseus, Herakles. Here it is Dionysus who makes the descent, to bring back either Euripides or Aeschylus to provide moral guidance to Athens in one of her darkest periods (this was written in 405 BC). The resultant ethical and literary contest between the two tragedians, presided over by Dionysus (just as the play itself was performed in the Theatre of Dionysus under the aegis of the god) is hysterically funny as the two poets rip apart each others' most famous lines.

But beneath all the laughter and bawdy wit lies a very dark undertow centred on the problems of war, defeat, effective political leadership, and the faults, failures and possible survival of the Athenian democratic experiment. Aristophanes' plays may well be comic masterpieces - but they can also be read, in places, as unnervingly close to tragedy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Asma on 3 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
I was quite shocked to find myself enjoying comedy that was written and performed over 400 years before Christ when I could not even get through Shakespeare which is much more recent. Women at the Thesmophoria is my favourite of the plays in this book but all of them are witty, entertaining and interesting. Aristophanes is a fantastic and genius playwright and the this translation captures the humour of the original Greek rather well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love Aristophanes. He is so funny and yet, through all the crudity, is a sharp ability to puncture human pretentiousness and bring to light all everyone's instinctive weaknesses. In this book are three of his plays and the most astonishing thing is how much the characters feel like people today. Considering the vast gulf that, in truth, exists between us in so many regards, it is fascinating to see the same mix of sons who think they know best, cowards and inveterate conservatives as today.
This is edition is also very good. Bar my minor annoyance that a couple of the cruder passages were toned down (I know I'm not dealing with Last of the Summer Wine!)the notes were very full and explained a lot of fascinating detail, which helped contributed to that other advantage of reading Aristophanes, apart from enjoyment, that of getting a real perspective on Classical Athenian society.
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By cameron thorp on 6 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This penguin translation is great fun to read and even if you're sense of humour isn't quite in line with the Greeks you can still enjoy reading through these plays as they show a glimpse of the ancient world.
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By a person of good taste on 30 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is college book for my son. He is doing A levels but it's certainly suitable for upper sceondary school upwards, even to university level.
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