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The Acharnians   By: (446? BC - 385? BC)

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The Acharnians is a captivating play that takes readers on a humorous and thought-provoking journey. Written by an unknown author, this ancient Greek comedy explores important themes such as peace, war, and the role of the individual in society.

The story centers around a common man named Dikaiopolis, who is tired of the ongoing war between Athens and Sparta. Frustrated with the government's inability to bring peace, Dikaiopolis decides to strike a personal peace treaty with Sparta, allowing him to freely engage in trade with them. This decision sets the stage for a series of comedic and satirical events.

One of the notable aspects of The Acharnians is its use of humor to critique and challenge societal norms. The author ingeniously employs comedic elements, such as exaggerated characters and slapstick situations, to shed light on the absurdity of war and the greed of politicians. This allows readers to both laugh at and reflect upon the shortcomings of their own society.

Additionally, the play delves into the character development of Dikaiopolis, who transforms from a frustrated and disgruntled citizen into a wiser and more independent individual. Through his experiences, readers are reminded of the power of personal agency and the potential for change, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The dialogues in The Acharnians are brilliant and engaging, capturing the essence of the characters' personalities and motivations. Though written in a different time and language, the translation successfully maintains the play's wit and humor, making it accessible to modern readers.

However, one potential drawback of this work is the lack of historical context and background information. Without a known author, readers may find it challenging to fully understand the intended political and social critiques embedded within the play. Some readers might benefit from researching the historical context prior to reading, ensuring a deeper appreciation for the author's message.

Overall, The Acharnians is a remarkable and entertaining play that provides a unique window into ancient Greek society. It cleverly blends comedy with social commentary, inviting readers to reflect on themes that are still relevant today. Despite its unknown author, this play stands the test of time and continues to captivate audiences, making it a worthwhile read for lovers of both history and comedy.

First Page:


By Aristophanes

[Translator uncredited. Footnotes have been retained because they provide the meanings of Greek names, terms and ceremonies and explain puns and references otherwise lost in translation. Occasional Greek words in the footnotes have not been included. Footnote numbers, in brackets, start anew at (1) for each piece of dialogue, and each footnote follows immediately the dialogue to which it refers, labeled thus: f(1).]


This is the first of the series of three Comedies 'The Acharnians,' 'Peace' and 'Lysistrata' produced at intervals of years, the sixth, tenth and twenty first of the Peloponnesian War, and impressing on the Athenian people the miseries and disasters due to it and to the scoundrels who by their selfish and reckless policy had provoked it, the consequent ruin of industry and, above all, agriculture, and the urgency of asking Peace. In date it is the earliest play brought out by the author in his own name and his first work of serious importance. It was acted at the Lenaean Festival, in January, 426 B.C., and gained the first prize, Cratinus being second.

Its diatribes against the War and fierce criticism of the general policy of the War party so enraged Cleon that, as already mentioned, he endeavoured to ruin the author, who in 'The Knights' retorted by a direct and savage personal attack on the leader of the democracy... Continue reading book >>

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