Guus Bosman

software engineering director

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The Clouds

Part of the reading list from Gutenberg was a play by Aristophanes, The Clouds. It's a short play, and I read it in an hour or two, but I don't think I'll immediately read more plays -- I didn't love The Clouds. Unlike the case of Aschylus, where one story (and a book being unavailable right away in the library, haha), encouraged me to read the whole series.

I think what bothered me most was the conservative outlook by Aristophanes, making fun of Socrates and others who were trying to learn more. Even though that's 2,500 years ago, it made me annoyed with the guy; it's like watching Fox News I suppose.

The language was beautiful and very rich. I read Paul Roche's translation which is very contemporary and uses modern cursewords and so forth -- that was a bit shocking but felt right, in the sense that the original play must have been quite jarring and shocking as well.

Update 2/10: Now I've read some works about Socrates, I don't feel so bad about Aristophanes making fun of him anymore. So while taking a break after reading The Republic, I read Acharnians -- a funny story about a guy making a private peace-treaty with Sparta, and the outcome of that.

Update 2/17: You know, I'm starting to appreciate Aristophanes more and more and when I saw that Plato's Symposium is partially model after Frogs, I read that. Frogs is quite entertaining.

It's amazing how all these books refer to each other. Symposium to Frogs, Frogs to Aeschylus (who I really enjoyed), Frogs to Homer and Hesiod.. It's really nice to read all of these in the same time period, to get a full view. In Frogs there is a competition between Aeschylus and Euripides to figure out in the after-life who was the best poet. I have to say Roche's introductions and footnotes are quite good, too. Roche mentions that Sophocles had just passed away when Frogs was written, and Aristophanes didn't have time to make Sophocles a full participant in the verbal combat, though he did weave him into the story-line.


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