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Aristophanes


Greek poet and playwright of the Old Comedy, also known as the Father of Comedy and the Prince of Ancient Comedy.
Aristophanes
Just Cause: [Learn] not to contradict your father in anything; nor by calling him Iapetus, to reproach him with the ills of age, by which you were reared in your infancy.
(tr. Hickie 1853, vol. 1, Perseus)
Aristophanes quotes
Chorus: Under every stone lurks a politician.
(tr. in Bartlett 1968, p. 91 or Archive.org)
Aristophanes
Chorus [of Birds]: Man is a truly cunning creature.
(abridged tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)




Aristophanes quotes
Strepsiades: But come, by the Earth, is not Zeus, the Olympian, a god?
Socrates: What Zeus? Do not trifle. There is no Zeus.
(tr. Hickie 1853, vol. 1, Perseus)
Aristophanes
Chorus: [We] must look beneath every stone, lest it conceal some orator ready to sting us.
(tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)
Aristophanes quotes
Epops: Come let me see, what shall the name be for our city? [...]
Euelpides: Hence, from the clouds, and these meteoric regions, some all-swelling name.
Pisthetaerus: Would you “Cloud-cuckoo-land?”
(tr. Warter 1830, p. 215)
Aristophanes
Praxagora: I want all to have a share of everything and all property to be in common; there will no longer be either rich or poor; [...] I shall begin by making land, money, everything that is private property, common to all. [...]
Blepyrus: But who will till the soil?
Praxagora: The slaves.
(tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)
Aristophanes quotes
Aeschylus: It is the compelling power of great thoughts and ideas to engender phrases of equal size.
(tr. Dillon 1995, Perseus)
Aristophanes
Chorus [leader]: Ye Children of Man! whose life is a span, / Protracted with sorrow from day to day, / Naked and featherless, feeble and querulous, / Sickly, calamitous creatures of clay!
(heavily rewritten tr. Frere 1839, p. 38)
Aristophanes
Chorus [speaking for Aristophanes]: Yet I have not been seen frequenting the wrestling school intoxicated with success and trying to seduce young boys; but I took all my theatrical gear and returned straight home. I pained folk but little and caused them much amusement; my conscience rebuked me for nothing. Hence both grown men and youths should be on my side and I likewise invite the bald to give me their votes; for, if I triumph, everyone will say, both at table and at festivals, “Carry this to the bald man, give these cakes to the bald one, do not grudge the poet whose talent shines as bright as his own bare skull the share he deserves.”
(tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)
Aristophanes
Bdelycleon: It is so that you may know only those who nourish you
(tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)




Aristophanes quotes
Hierocles: You will never make the crab walk straight.
(tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)
Aristophanes
Epops: The wise can often profit by the lessons of a foe, for caution is the mother of safety. It is just such a thing as one will not learn from a friend and which an enemy compels you to know. To begin with, it's the foe and not the friend that taught cities to build high walls, to equip long vessels of war; and it's this knowledge that protects our children, our slaves and our wealth.
Leader of the Chorus [leader]: Well then, I agree, let us first hear them, for that is best; one can even learn something in an enemy's school.
(tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)
Aristophanes quotes
[Choir of] Women: It should not prejudice my voice that I'm not born a man, if I say something advantageous to the present situation. For I'm taxed too, and as a toll provide men for the nation.
(tr. Lindsay 1925, Perseus)
Aristophanes
Chremylus: And what good thing can [Poverty] give us, unless it be burns in the bath, and swarms of brats and old women who cry with hunger, and clouds uncountable of lice, gnats and flies, which hover about the wretch's head, trouble him, awake him and say, “You will be hungry, but get up!” [...]
Poverty: It's not my life that you describe; you are attacking the existence beggars lead. [...] The beggar, whom you have depicted to us, never possesses anything. The poor man lives thriftily and attentive to his work; he has not got too much, but he does not lack what he really needs. [...] But what you don't know is this, that men with me are worth more, both in mind and body, than with [Wealth]. With him they are gouty, big-bellied, heavy of limb and scandalously stout; with me they are thin, wasp-waisted, and terrible to the foe. [...] As for behavior, I will prove to you that modesty dwells with me and insolence with [Wealth]. [...] Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy. [...]
Chremylus: Then tell me this, why does all mankind flee from you?
Poverty: Because I make them better. Children do the very same; they flee from the wise counsels of their fathers. So difficult is it to see one's true interest.
(tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)
Aristophanes quotes
Dicaepolis: Comedy too can sometimes discern what is right. I shall not please, but I shall say what is true.
(tr. Athen. 1912, Perseus)
Aristophanes
Strepsiades: Whirl is King, having driven out Zeus.
(tr. in Lippmann 1929, p. 1 and 4)
Aristophanes quotes
Sausage-Seller: You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way it's only in troublous times that you line your pockets.
(tr. O'Neill 1938, Perseus)
Aristophanes
Chorus [of Birds]: Man is naturally deceitful ever, in every way!
(tr. Hickie 1853, vol. 1, p. 326)
Aristophanes
Lamachus: Ah! the Generals! they are numerous, but not good for much!
(tr. Athen. 1912, vol. 1, Perseus)


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