Often called the Father of Comedy, the satirical playwright Aristophanes (c. 450 BCE – 388 BCE) used his critical eye and sharp tongue to skewer politicians and philosophers alike. In this episode, poet and classicist Aaron Poochigian joins Jacke to discuss his new translation of four plays by Aristophanes – and explains why these ancient Athenian comedies (Clouds, Birds, Lysistrata, and Women of the Assembly) are especially relevant today.
“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition,” said Alfred North Whitehead, “is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” We’ve all heard the name of Plato and his famous mentor Socrates, and most of us have encountered the dialogues, a literary-philosophical form he essentially invented. We know the themes he advanced, his general views of metaphysics, and his interest in knowledge and its importance as a virtue. But what do we know about Plato the man? How did this person come to write works that would be read and wrestled with more than two thousand years later? And how do Plato’s literary skills help to deepen his arguments and enrich his narratives? In this episode of The History of Literature, we look at the fascinating figure of Plato and his great mentor/creation, Socrates.
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Author Jacke Wilson examines the life and works of Aristophanes, whose comic plays included The Clouds, which pokes fun at philosophers such as Socrates, and Lysistrata, where the females of Athens and Sparta go on a sex strike in an attempt to end the war.