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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic translations of a comic genius
Few comic writers pre-date Aristophanes. But few resonate more strongly with us. His comic traits - wit, absurd, satire - are precisely those features that prove popular today.

One reason why this Penguin edition excels is that its English catches the mischievous and fantastic spirit of the originals so unfailingly. Although this edition first appeared as long...
Published on 11 May 2008 by Jon Chambers

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3.0 out of 5 stars The birds
Good book but could do with a slightly better cover and could be better laid out inside in terms of page numbering etc...
Published 21 months ago by Brad


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic translations of a comic genius, 11 May 2008
By 
Jon Chambers (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Birds and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Few comic writers pre-date Aristophanes. But few resonate more strongly with us. His comic traits - wit, absurd, satire - are precisely those features that prove popular today.

One reason why this Penguin edition excels is that its English catches the mischievous and fantastic spirit of the originals so unfailingly. Although this edition first appeared as long ago as 1978 and despite lacking Greek-alphabet annotation - an absence that may deter the more classical Classicist - it more than compensates with its inspired translations and illuminating introductions and commentaries.

There are actually two translators at work in this volume - AH Sommerstein and David Barrett. The first's strength is putting the comedies in their social-historical context. The latter's forte is a no-nonsense, pragmatic approach best exemplified, perhaps, in his excellent prefatory essay. He acknowledges that we'll probably never fully understand several of Aristophanes' jokes made at the expense of lesser-known named individuals (like Smicythion in The Assemblywomen). But rather than despair, he prefers to see these ancient joke-butts as allegorical and representing 'facets of ourselves, isolated expressly to be ridiculed'.

And what of the plays on offer? The best known, The Birds, is in several ways the least typical: it is apolitical; there's no Cleon-baiting; there's very little that's topical. But alongside the odd groan-inducing pun, there's even some lyric poetry from the chorus - the very core (caw caw) of these Old Comedy competition plays: 'Set free the notes of the hallowed songs/That pour divinely from you, lamenting/Itys, our dead son,/Your tawny throat throbbing with liquid music...'. It isn't really lyric verse that Aristophanes is renowned for so much as comic invention, of course. Although, in Barrett's opinion, The Assemblywomen is structurally the weakest of these plays, it is probably the most effective and the funniest in performance. And like the others, it illuminates aspects of ordinary Athenian life otherwise unrecorded for posterity. We learn that pole-cats, rather than modern, domesticated cats, were given the job of catching mice around the house; that chick-peas were served as 'nibbles' with wine; and much else.

At its best, the Penguin Classics imprint brings what could be arcane and scholarly material to a wider audience. Aristophanes, a comic genius for anyone who knows how to laugh, deserves such an audience. Here is comedy in all its variety - wit, wordplay, slapstick, visual and bawdy humour - conveyed with a freshness and vigour in translations that transcend the millennia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Aristophanes: The Birds and Other Plays, 13 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Birds and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
An excellent translation with a very useful Introduction and Notes. I thoroughly recommend this book for any student of Greek Drama.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great from Aristophanes., 10 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Birds and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
With all the dirty humour, backhanded comments against politicians (especially Cleon). Simple to understand as it is in modern day English for the most part. It is definitely worth the read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The birds, 27 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Birds and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Good book but could do with a slightly better cover and could be better laid out inside in terms of page numbering etc...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Humerous and Crude, 31 Mar 2009
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This review is from: The Birds and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
In this collection of Aristophanes' plays there are some great crude and hilarious parodies. Most of Aristophanes work is concerning some political event and from this you are given a bit of insight into the Greek way of life. Also, his love for poking fun at the Gods really shines through. There are a range of quite unusual characters that are present in his plays. Sometimes the chorus lines are rather bothersome but the translator has done a great job of translating the comedic elements in the play. I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys ancient Greek literature.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classics Must Buy, 21 Jan 2002
By A Customer
For any one studying Classical Civilisations, this book is an excellent example of a Greek comedy works by Aristophanes. Beware the comedy in this play is very difficult to understand, it no bedtime read. I look forward to reading his other books.
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The Birds and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)
The Birds and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) by Aristophanes (Paperback - 25 Sep 2003)
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