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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 February 2013
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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on 9 July 2013
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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on 3 November 2011
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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on 6 February 2013
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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on 1 December 2012
We do this for AS level Classical Civilisation, and i'ts so funny. They are however very rude, so dont read it if you don't like obscene things. There really is no shame, it's very crude. It is remarkable how developed the humour and the stories are as a whole. Some parts might require background understanding but there is an introduction to the play and the characters before each book to help you understand more. If you want an interesting read then certainly go for it!
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on 15 April 2016
An improvement on the former Penguin editions. Highly entertaining and recommended for anyone who likes a good laugh-out-loud read on a par with Wodehouse.
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on 30 December 2013
This one of a series which is very useful if your ancient Greek is rusty or non-existent. Good value for money.
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on 30 April 2014
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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on 5 February 2013
It was an enjoyable collection of comedy dating back to the ancient Greeks, although I’ll be honest the only reason I purchase it was because I needed it for uni.
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on 12 January 2015
Had to have it for college
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