Artistophanes the Father of Comedy

By Alina Haque

WHO IS HE?

Artistophanes is one of the first comedians of ancient history as we know it. Artistophanes lived in the comedic time period of Old Comedy. He was a playwright, director, poet and a notable quote giver. Artitophanes lived in Ancient Greece from c. 446 BC – c. 386 BC.He is the inspiration for many people today in the world of comedy.

ARTISTOPHANES AND EVENTS

When Aristophanes' first play The Banqueters was produced, Athens was an ambitious, imperial power and The Peloponnesian War was only in its fourth year. His plays often express pride in the achievement of the older generation (the victors at Marathon) yet they are not jingoistic and they are staunchly opposed to the war with Sparta. The plays are particularly scathing in criticism of war profiteers, among whom populists such as Cleon figure prominently. By the time his last play was produced (around 386 BC) Athens had been defeated in war, its empire had been dismantled and it had undergone a transformation from the political to the intellectual centre of Greece. Aristophanes was part of this transformation and he shared in the intellectual fashions of the period — the structure of his plays evolves from Old Comedy until, in his last surviving play, Wealth II, it more closely resembles New Comedy. However it is uncertain whether he led or merely responded to changes in audience expectations.

THE PRINCE OF COMEDY LIVES IN HIS PLAYS


The works of Artistophanes live through the ages but only eleven out of the original forty plays still exist: