Aristophanes lived c. 446 BC - 386 BC. He is known as both "The Father of Comedy" and "The Prince of Ancient Comedy". Little is known about his life but 11 of his 40 plays survive today, along with fragments of other works.
Aristophanes was writing at a time after the euphoria of Greece’s military victories over the Persians, when the Peloponnesian War had dampened Athens’ ambitions as an imperial power. Nevertheless, Athens become the intellectual centre of Greece and Aristophanes was hugely important in changing intellectual fashions.
He was prone to caricaturing important figures in his plays and, although he was not believed to have been political, he did not shy away from satirizing politics. From Euripides to Socrates to the Athenian general, Cleon, Aristophanes satirized them all. Aristophanes was not afraid to risks and his polemical satires often angered Athenian authorities. His first play, “The Banqueters” (now lost), won second prize at the annual City Dionysia drama competition in 427 BCE, and his next play, “The Babylonians” (also now lost), won first prize. Outraged citizens, including Cleon, tried to prosecute the young playwright on a charge of slandering the Athenian polis. However, the case was dropped and it did not stop Aristophanes from continuing to caricature influential Athenians in an unfavorable light.
As far as we know, Aristophanes was victorious only once at the City Dionysia, however he also won the less prestigious Lenaia competition at least three times. At least three of his sons (Araros, Philippus and a third son called either Nicostratus) became comic poets.
Aristophanes' best known surviving plays include The Archarnians (425 BC), The Knights (424 BC), The Clouds (423 BC), The Wasps (422 BC), Peace (421 BC), The Birds (414 BC), Lysistrata (411 BC), and The Frogs (405 BC).
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