Aristophanes Smackdown: Frogs Vs. Clouds

As I work on reading the Great Books of the Western World, I’ve now read two plays by the ancient Greek comedian Aristophanes.  I read The Frogs last summer, and The Clouds a couple of weeks ago.  I enjoyed both, but let’s see how they stack up against each other:

Frogs: About Dionysus going to the underworld to bring back a great dead writer because the current theater was awful.  +1

Clouds:  About a man who wants his son to learn rhetoric so they can weasel their way out of paying debts.  +2

Frogs:  [paraphrased]  “Well, here we are in the underworld.  Where are all the freaks and perverts that are supposed to be here?”  [looks out over the audience]  “Oh, there they are.”  +3

Clouds: [paraphrased] “Ugh.  I had a great thought, but you made me miscarry it.”  +1

Frogs: Nathan Lane and Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical version.  I listened to the score last year, and it’s not bad.  Not great, but not bad.  It’s often clever, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it performed.  +2

Clouds:  Socrates tells a fart joke.  +3

Frogs: Ends with Aeschylus and Euripides, two of Greece’s greatest dramatic writers, hurling insults at each other in a verbal standoff to prove who was better.  They get pretty close to just saying “Yo momma!” and slapping each other.  +3

Clouds:  Satirizes higher education (a pompous enterprise then just as it is now), often implying it’s a bunch of airy nonsense (hence the title). +1  

Frogs: Has a snarky servant who constantly insults his slow-witted master, Jeeves and Wooster-style.  Also, Hercules is in it, none too flatteringly.  +3

Clouds:  Ends with a scathingly logical argument about why people are justified in beating the snot out of their parents.  +2


Frogs  12

Clouds  9

One comment on “Aristophanes Smackdown: Frogs Vs. Clouds

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