A comic play
, in which two humans seeking a better city
persuade the hoopoe
, and then all the other bird
s, to unite, and build a great city in the sky. There they can become god
s by intercept
s and prayer
s and preventing them from reaching the other gods in Olympus
The city of Nephelococcygia ('Cloud-cuckoo'*) soon attracts scroungers: a poet, an oracle seller, a surveyor, an inspector, an informer. A bird craze sweeps human nations down below.
The goddess Iris, messenger of the Olympians, is arrested as she tries to cross their new domain. Later Poseidon, Heracles, and a barbarian god are sent to negotiate peace, and eventually concede Sovereignty to the birds.
One of the best of Aristophanes' plays, it won second prize in 414 BCE; of the winning play, only the title survives (The Revellers). The Greek name is Ornithes; it often used to be known by its Latin name Aves.
* Often given in English as Cloud Cuckoo Land, but it's a town not a land, and the Greek doesn't explicitly say either.