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I don't think anybody cares how I rate Aristophanes: people have been enjoying his plays for two millennia, so it's safe to say the verdict is in. Instead I'm going to rate the modern Aristophanes translations, the quality of which is highly variable. Slang and bawdry seem to be the hardest things to translate, more on account of the people who tend to become translators, I think -- especially translators of ancient Greek -- than of the difficulties inherent in approximating lively foulness. In
Great translations. These aren't the historical versions, however; all have been somewhat tampered with in an attempt to make them acting versions. Strangely, however, it seems that the translator's ad libs and changes in a way DO make it more historical- they're hilarious. Even the Wasps, one of Aristophanes' least enticing plays becomes great! The translators have a great knack for bringing the playwright's absurdity to life.
We read "The Clouds" in freshman year seminar and I remember begin surprised by some of the theatrical conventions for Greek comedy and enjoying the lampooning of philosophers.I haven't read "The Birds" but did just read "The Wasps" for the first time. This time through, I was even more astounded by the bawdyness of the comedy (there's a naked flute girl bit at the end, for example, that I think would push boundaries today). I was also surprised at how good the farce and slapstick were. There ar...
A good reading translation of The Clouds in this volume - Arrowsmith definitely renders the play readable and makes several of the more topical jokes relevant to modern audiences. However, there are several liberties taken at points which can alter the reader's understanding of the subtleties of the play's critique of Socrates. If one were seriously studying this play, it would be worthwhile to cross-reference several editions.The Frogs and the Wasps are also readable translations, but based on
Although Clouds is always presented as a satire about Socrates, I found it much more a satire about the main character Strepsiades, his son Pheidippides and sophist reasoning. Actually it's probably a satire about all and everything and probably about Athenian life in general. Most of the dialogue between Socrates and Strepsiades is Socrates making fun of the "fossilized, forgetful old fool."It was more or less fun to read, and gives some feeling about what comedy must have been in 5th century A...
Aristophanes is always a hoot, and different translators stretch his references by varying degrees to substitute culturally relevant references -- this one used "Salvation Army" in lieu of some Athenian religious/charitable activity, and it worked! As usual, Cleon gets insulted 19 ways, and there are the usual rustic/urban shticks, and Socrates gets slammed (unfairly, but very funny) and -- what can I say, ya hadda be there in 5th Century Athens (at least in your head during collegiate delusions...
My review is on Birds. I'm no Greek scholar and I'm sure a lot went over my head. I did enjoy the play for the humor. I thought at times I was reading a Monty Python script or even at times, a Marx Brothers version of banter. The puns were great as were all things relating to birds. Reading the notes I saw how raunchy most of it was. I would love to see this acted out.
These are adequate translations of notoriously difficult Greek to English works. They work by changing topical Greek subjects tackled by Aristophanes into rough American mid-20th-century analogs. The humor is still comprehensible and quite funny in places, though scholars won't like their lack of exactitude in matters of translation. Good for modern performances, though.
the translation is only a sliver of how well mr peter meineck conveys the comedy of aristophanes. i highly recommend this translation.
Rather confusing, though sometimes amusing. I read only the Wasps.
This translation has to be the best among the dozens I've encountered over the past few weeks of systematic exploration into Aristophanes' great works. Meineck's translation was exceptionally down-to-earth and comedic, though sometimes seemed a bit incongruous with the plays' historical background. The skilful manipulation of contemporary references and modern slangs results in a translation that is highly relatable to modern readers while also preserving an original taste of classical humours.
If I had to choose one word to describe Aristophanes' humor it would be burlesque. Of the three plays, I most enjoyed the Wasps for its parody of the jury system. But all three plays provide keen insight into the day-to-day lives of typical Athenians. From Strepsiades' complaints about his long-haired horse racing son (in Clouds) to the troop of characters who descend upon the new sky city Cloudcuckooland (in Birds) to get their slice of the action (poet-for-hire, an informer, an inspector, an "...
I really like this translation for a modern reader. It’s very accessible and also includes excellent footnotes and endnotes.