The Need to Return to Traditional Values
- Beneath the comedy of the play, there is a serious message: the citizens of Athens need to return to their traditional values if they are to survive as great people. When this play would have been staged, Athens was loosing the Peloponnesian war (431-404BC) to Sparta. In 404, Athens surrendered because of the destruction of its fleet.
- Aristophanes blamed the decline of Athens on ineffective leadership, weakened freedom of speech, the bellicosity of the Athenian empire, and the rejection of traditional values.
- In times earlier than Aristophanes' plays, playwrights would stage performances that called attention to the failings of society and showed the people/audience how to turn these failings into a success.
- The greatest playwrights, Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus, were all dead by 405, therefore Aristophanes thought that they were essential for society to recover. Frogs shows Dionysus travelling to hades to bring back one of these playwrights so that they can save Athens with the wisdom that is portrayed in their dramas.
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The Exalted Role of Playwrights
- Playwrights obsereved human beings and interperated their ideas and actions. Therefore they held an exalted position in Ancient Greece.
- Frogs shows that Dionysus is willing to travel all the way to hades - a very feared and dangerous place in Ancient Greek times - to bring back a poet to try and save Athens. Here, Aristophanes is emphasisng the importance of poets on society, and how highly they should be held.
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The Folly of Deception
- Dionysus disguises himself as Heracles, to appear more formidable to the people that he meets when travelling in Hades. His disguise, however, is extremely obvious, with a lion skin and a club.
- His plan backfires when people in hades start to threaten him as they are enemies of Heracles. This highlights that deception will only backfire - perhaps using it as a lesson to his audience.
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