“I am entranced
When I can curse my lord behind his back.”
Aristophanes' The Frogs is a timeless comedy, combining witty satire and raucous slapstick to delightful effect. Modern critics have acclaimed it as a perfectly realized fantasy remarkable for its wit.
The Frogs tells the story of the god Dionysus, who, despairing of the state of Athens' tragedians, travels to Hades to bring the Euripides back from the dead. He brings along his slave Xanthias, who is smarter and braver than Dionysus.
As The Frogs opens, Xanthias and Dionysus argue over what kind of jokes Xanthias can use to open the play. For the first half of the play, Dionysus routinely makes critical errors, forcing Xanthias to improvise in order to protect his master and prevent Dionysus from looking incompetent—but this only allows Dionysus to continue to make mistakes with no consequence.
ARISTOPHANES (c. 445-386 BC) was a satirical playwright of ancient Athens. He had his first play produced when he was twenty-one, and wrote some forty plays in all. Little is known about his personal life, but he was twice threatened with prosecution in the 420s for his outspoken attacks on prominent politicians. In 405 however, his fortunes improved, and he was publicly honored for promoting Athenian unity in The Frogs. It is generally recognized as one of Aristophanes' greatest masterworks for its incredibly imaginative plot and clever lyrics. His trademark bawdy comedy and dazzling verbal agility is much on display.