The Wasps, The Poet and the Women & The FrogsAristophanes, David Barrett
The master of ancient Greek comic drama, Aristophanes combined slapstick, humour and cheerful vulgarity with acute political observations. In “The Frogs”, written during the Peloponnesian War, Dionysus descends to the Underworld to bring back a poet who can help Athens in its darkest hour, and stages a great debate to help him decide between the traditional wisdom of Aeschylus and the brilliant modernity of Euripides. The clash of generations and values is also the object of Aristophanes’ satire in “The Wasps”, in which an old-fashioned father and his loose-living son come to blows and end up in court. And in “The Poet and the Women”, Euripides, accused of misogyny persuades a relative to infiltrate an all-women festival to find out whether revenge is being plotted against him. In his introduction, David Barrett discusses the Athenian dramatic contests in which these plays first appeared, and conventions of Greek comedy – from its poetic language and the role of the Chorus to casting and costumes.