c. 448-380 B.C. The greatest comic poet
from classic Greece
and author of all extant comedies
from the period. The only extant
works are The Acharnians, The Birds, The Clouds, The Ecclesiazusae, The Frogs, The Knights, Lysistrata, Peace, Plutus, The Thesmophoriazus,
and The Wasps.
Hilarious and bawdy
, his plays can be enjoyed as much today as in his time, though some of the "inside" jokes and political humor is lost. At least two plays (his first comedies, The Banqueters
and The Babylonians
) are known to be lost.
Lysistrata is his best known work, just about the earliest feminist drama of all time, in which the women of Athens go on a sex strike for peace (during the Peloponnesian War) and political power. The Clouds is a farcical satire on Socrates; in fact this play is mentioned in Plato's Apology (Socrates complains in his last defense that he has been misrepresented by such comedies. Some things never change.)
Later in his life after Lysistrata, Aristophanes wrote less controversial plays, as the political climate had become dangerous. Socrates himself was executed during this time. It should be noted that some sources show that the real Socrates was actually a fan of Aristophanes, and that Apology didn't quite accurately portray his attitude toward Aristophanes.