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Collecting three comedies that show Aristophanes tackling the consequences of war and social upheaval in Athens with his characteristic wit, "Lysistrata and Other Plays" is translated from the Greek with an introduction and notes by Alan H. Sommerstein in "Penguin Classics". Writing at a time of political and social crisis in Athens, Aristophanes was an eloquent, yet bawdy challenger to the demagogue and the sophist. In Lysistrata, the titular heroine persuades the women of Greece to withhold sex from their husbands, forcing them to end the Peloponnesian War; and in "The Archanians", a lone peasant enters into a private peace treaty with the Spartans, much to the chagrin of his fellow Athenians. The darker comedy of "The Clouds" satirises Athenian philosophers, "Socrates" in particular, and reflects the uncertainties of a generation in which all traditional religious and ethical beliefs were being challenged. For this edition Alan H. Sommerstein has completely revised his translation of the three plays, bringing out the full nuances of Aristophanes' ribald humour and intricate wordplay, with a new introduction explaining the historical and cultural background to the plays. Aristophanes (c.4 45-386 BC) was probably born in Athens. Little is known about his life, but there is a portrait of him in "Plato's Symposium". He was twice threatened with prosecution in the 420s for his outspoken attacks on the prominent politician Cleon, but in 405 he was publicly honoured and crowned for promoting Athenian civic unity in "The Frogs". Aristophanes had his first comedy produced when he was about twenty-one, and wrote forty plays in all. The eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes are published in the "Penguin Classics" series as "The Birds and Other Plays", "Lysistrata and Other Plays", "The Wasps and Other Plays" and "The Frogs and Other Plays". If you enjoyed "Lysistrata and Other Plays", you might like Aristophanes' "The Birds and Other Plays", also available in "Penguin Classics".
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