Terms to remember
Who is the "hero"; what is his problem; and how does
he try to solve it?
- Our "hero" Strepsiades is not very heroic; he is
plucky and persistent, but all along he only believes he
has solved his problem;
- His various attempts to use the methods taught at
the Thinkery to wriggle (unjustly) out of his (just)
debts drive the twists and turns of the plot
- Strepsiades' penultimate solution works too well:
Pheidippides has learned the Worse Argument, and uses it
to justify beating his father and, to Strepsiades'
horror, his mother.
Who or what is made the object of ridicule and in what
- The students at the Thinkery and, by exaggeration
and association, the Sophists. Review the particulars of
the intellectual, economic, and physical caricature that
Aristophanes draws. Many Athenians probably would not
have differentiated between diverse elements of Sophism
and between Sophism and other intellectual traditions of
the 5th century.
- Socrates: intellectual pursuits, theology,
rejection of traditional religion, arrogance, comic
poverty. Is this a memorable caricature? Is it
believable? Remember this comic exaggeration; we will
discuss it again when we read Plato's Apology.
- Strepsiades: rustic; dull-witted; trying to get
out of paying debts
- Political leaders in the audience? the whole
- How do Better and Worse Arguments (corresponding
to old and new education) fare? The weaknesses of BOTH
old and new education are demonstrated, yes?
What current issues does the comedy touch on?
- relations between the generations
- the new intellectualism versus traditional
religion and traditional education
- the war
- "old fashioned" ideas vs. modern ones
GIVE USEFUL ADVICE:
What useful advice might an audience take away from
- about Socrates and the Sophists?
- about families?
- about traditional religion?
- about the "unwritten laws" or "laws of the gods"
(be sure you know what they are!)