“How many times round the track
is the race for the chariots of war?”
Aristophanes' The Clouds is a timeless comedy, combining witty satire to delightful effect. Modern critics have acclaimed it as a perfectly realized fantasy caricaturing life in classical Athens.
The play begins with Strepsiades complaining to the audience that he is too worried about household debts to get any sleep; his pampered wife has encouraged their son's expensive interest in horses. Strepsiades thinks up a plan to get out of debt by enrolling in Socrates’ “Thinkery,” the better to beat his creditors in court through superior argument.
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. The Clouds is generally recognized as one of Aristophanes' greatest masterworks, for its imaginative plot. His trademark dazzling verbal agility is much on display.