The Clouds



  • A comedy by Aristophanes, first performed in 423 BCin Athens. It is an attack on 'modern' education and the morals taughtby the sophists. In the play Socrates and his pupils are ridiculedand their school, the Phrontisterion ('Thinking Shop') is eventuallyburned to the ground. Scholars have often wondered why Aristophaneschose Socrates as an example of a false philosopher; some believehe was selected simply because of his fame.

    The chorus's entrance song is considered one of Aristophanes'sfinest lyrics; in the translation by B. B. Rogers (1916) it runs:

    Clouds of all hue,
    Rise we aloft with our garments of dew.
    Come from old Ocean's unchangeable bed,
    Come till the mountain's green summits we tread,
    Come to the peaks with their landscapes untold,
    Gaze on the Earth with her harvest of gold...

    The Clouds also contains a curious example of the parabasis,or choral address to the audience. At one point the chorus steps forwardto berate the audience for its poor taste in withholding first prizefrom some of Aristophanes's plays in previous contests.