The Clouds: A Review: Aristophanes' Timeless Humor

Shortly after meeting Strepsiades (while suspended in midair in a basket), Socrates begins to introduce him to the Clouds (a delightful parody of the Socratic Forms). Strepsiades responds:
I rever you, much honored ones, and wish to fart in response
To the thunder, so much do I tremble and fear before them.
And if it is sanctioned - right now, in fact, even if it isn't sanctioned - I want to take a crap. (292-294)
I suspect this is the usual response to having to listen to Socrates. I know it is how I felt when first subjected to Plato. Unbeknownst to him, Strepsiades has unwittingly discovered the key to unlocking the secrets of the clouds and the rain. Whereas he had previously erroneously thought that rain was Zeus pissing through a sieve (373), Socrates reveals to him that rain is actually the clouds themselves congregating and letting themselves go. Thunder is the clouds farting (390-395), and lightning is analogous to the clouds taking a crap. (411)

Later in the play, Socrates is instructing Strepsiades in poetic meter and rhyme, a subject I recalling learning with great enthusiasm in grammar school. Strepsiades' succinct nonverbal summarization of the intricacies of dactylic rhyming structure "{He extends his middle finger in a vulgar gesture.}" is very similar to a few critical analyses that I offered my high school teachers before being offered private consultations with the principal.

But Aristophanes can elucidate not merely the experiences of a mere schoolboy, but also the sense of mystery and wonder of the Philosopher! Picture yourself in a moment of contemplation, exploring the mysteries of heaven and earth, at one with understanding, knowing only that true beauty and wisdom are real, approachable, and you are a creature of pure comprehension. What better explication of that one terrifyingly real moment than Strepsiades and Socrates search for abstract meaning:
SOC: Have you got hold of anything?
STREP: No, by Zeus, I certainly don't!
SOC: Nothing at all?
STREP: Nothing but the dick in my right hand. (731-734)
It is the best art that truthfully reflects life.

Aristophanes, in a fit of perhaps divine inspiration, anticipates the spirit of Christ (to come four centuries later) in counseling Pheidippides on how to avoid embarrassment if he has a radish stuck up his ass for committing adultery. Pheidippides may be buggered, but who will his accusers be? The public advocates? They're buggers. The tragedians? They're buggers. The orators? They're buggers. The mass of spectators? Well, they're all especially buggered. (1083-1098) As Jesus might have said, had he been so inspired: Let he who is without buggery shove the first radish!

My only complaint with The Clouds is the author's high-minded refusal to indulge us with a bit of low class comedy. A "hanging leather phallus stiched on, thick and red at the top" (538) would have done wonders for the play.