The Clouds


The Clouds, by Aristophanes - click to see full size image

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The Clouds is a Greek comedy written by Aristophanes. It was first performed in 423 BCE. The play satirizes the intellectual and philosophical trends of the time, particularly targeting the teachings of the philosopher Socrates and the Sophists. The plot revolves around Strepsiades, an indebted farmer, who hopes to learn the art of persuasive argumentation to avoid paying his debts. After trying and failing to get his son, Pheidippides, to enroll in the 'Thinkery', an unconventional school founded by Socrates, Strepsiades enrolls himself. Socrates makes a theatrical entrance, suspended in a basket at the end of a rope, and promptly initiates an induction ceremony. The highlight of this ceremony is a parade featuring the Clouds, revered as the patron goddesses of thinkers and idlers. In a majestic song, the Clouds describe their origins and express admiration for Greece, the loveliest land they have come to visit. When Socrates takes Strepsiades for his initial lesson, the Clouds step forward to address the audience. Breaking the fourth wall, they shed their cloud-like costumes, and assert that this play is the author's most ingenious, and rebuke the audience for the play's lackluster reception at the festival, where it was overshadowed by inferior works. Strepsiades meanwhile fails to be a good student due to his old age and inability to learn, and after giving up, his son enrolls instead. However, Pheidippides' learning leads to unintended consequences.

Part of Anne Haight's List of Banned Books.

This book has 18,458 words, and 49 pages in the PDF version. This translation by The Athenian Society was first published in 1912.

Production notes: This ebook of The Clouds was published by Global Grey on the 15th January 2024. The artwork used for the cover is 'Socrates Address' by Louis Joseph Lebrun.

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