52 in 52 Week 47: The Frogs by Aristophanes
I am now going to complete the Invitation to the Classics List (see link for the complete list in the "pages" section above) . I started it in 2002 (this week, in fact). I was hoping it would help me to teach a high school literature class when my kids got in high school, but I ended up facilitating a literature class using material from www.thelmaslibrary.com instead. I also opted for my personal reading to come from The Well-Educated Mind when it came out in 2003.
But it has always been in my mind to get back to this list, and now is the time. After this NO MORE LISTS! (My husband says he will believe it when he sees it.)
I love the Invitation to the Classics List because it asks questions from a Christian worldview and the list includes many devotional classics that I have always wanted to read. In fact, I read books from this list when I just couldn't take another depressing, hopeless, modern book from the 100 Great Books List. LOL!
I know Aristophanes' comedies are not Christian, but Invitation to the Classics says:
His fundamental vision . . . is profoundly spiritual. Aristophanes was the first to see the full implications of comedy -- to recognize that the comic imagination is essential in the movement toward hope and love. In fact, as he shows, those who choose a comic sprightliness and optimism in difficult situations are thereby enabled to renounce self-absorption and hence to endure and prevail.
My back was ailing, and I needed some books I could listen to while laying on my table with a heating pad over my back. Aristophanes is on the list of people to tackle from the Invitation to the Classics list, and it was free on my Kindle. So, I plunged into it. I had read Birds for the Well-Educated Mind list, and it was easy to follow. This was also easy to follow. Aristophanes was the one who got Socrates in trouble and is referred to in Plato's Apology (more on that when I review The Clouds next week).
Aristophanes is very accessible. So, do not let his Greek name scare you. My son read him before I did for a homeschool classical literature class, and he thought he was hilarious. I'll tell you why when I review The Clouds next week (two things to look forward to).
Here is a bit on the author that will carry into the next three weeks of Greek comedies that I will be reviewing:
Aristophanes, the greatest of comic writers in Greek and in the opinion of many, in any language, is the only one of the Attic comedians any of whose works has survived in complete form He was born in Athens about the middle of the fifth century B C, and had his first comedy produced when he was so young that his name was withheld on account of his youth. He is credited with over forty plays, eleven of which survive, along with the names and fragments of some twenty-six others. His satire deal with political, religious, and literary topics, and with all its humor and fancy is evidently the outcome of profound conviction and a genuine patriotism. The Attic comedy was produced at the festivals of Dionysus, which were marked by great license, and to this, rather than to the individual taste of the poet, must be ascribed the undoubted coarseness of many of the jests. Aristophanes seems, indeed, to have been regarded by his contemporaries as a man of noble character. He died shortly after the production of his "Plutus," in 388 B. C.Here is a bit about this particular play:
"The Frogs" was produced the year after the death of Euripides, and laments the decay of Greek tragedy which Aristophanes attributed to that writer. It is an admirable example of the brilliance of his style, and of that mingling of wit and poetry with rollicking humor and keen satirical point which is his chief characteristic. Here, as elsewhere, he stands for tradition against innovation of all kinds, whether in politics, religion, or art. The hostility to Euripides displayed here and in several other plays, like his attacks on Socrates, is a result of this attitude of conservatism. The present play is notable also as a piece of elaborate if not over-serious literary criticism from the pen of a great poet.
(Aristophanes (2012-05-16). The Frogs (Kindle Locations 12-16). . Kindle Edition.)