Reading Comprehension: Ancient Comedic excerpt from Aristophanes' Clouds.

Mr. Steel



Prior to modern times, all theatrical writing was classified as either "comedy" or "tragedy" -- comedy being anything laughable (human things that pass away), tragedy being anything serious (such as eternal questions). Ibsen's play is neither comedy nor tragedy. It deals with "human things" critically just as the ancients might with their comedies, but Ibsen's social commentary on the rights of women is not humorous. Similarly, all questions about eternal things are silenced in Ibsen's plays. Clearly, they are not tragedies.


Read this excerpt from Aristophanes' ancient classic, The Clouds. Like Ibsen, he too wishes to criticize social forces at work in his own society. However, unlike Ibsen, Aristophanes uses biting wit and "potty humour" to vilify who he sees as corrupters of the youth, namely, philosophers like Socrates.


In this excerpt, Strepsiades, a bankrupt Athenian, is knocking at the door to Socrates' "thinkery" -- his school of philosophy -- in order to learn how to speak cleverly so as to weasel his way out of his debts.


On a separate page, offer a brief analysis of Aristophanes' social commentary. What does he think of Strepsiades? Enumerate the various ways in which Aristophanes makes the philosophers look like an obscene, ridiculous, or corrupting influence upon the young.