(This review is for the Alan Sommerstein translation with facing Greek text)
Sommerstein has been doing a superb job of translating Aristophanes into accurate and yet still idiomatic English and, more importantly, maintains the absurd, witty and sometimes rude jokes that make Aristophanes still such a comic poet for even a modern audience.
This is one of his best plays: written for the drama festival of 405 BCE when Athens has almost been brought to her knees from the Peloponnesian War, and with the Spartan army camped on her outskirts, Aristophanes has Dionysus travel to the underworld to bring back a poet to save the city from herself.
This is still wonderfully comic but beneath all the humour is a serious message for the original audience, and a play which is sometimes disturbingly close to tragedy. With its discussions about the role of poetry and the poet in society, the contest between conservatism and modernism, even the price of democracy this is a play which speaks to a contemporary audience almost as saliently as when it was first performed.