Classical engraving of Aristophanes with a long beard.


(c. 446 BC - c. 386 BC)

A merciless critic of philosophers, politicians, and other poets—he attacked the influential politician Cleon in The Knights and condemned the tragedian Euripides to death in The Women at the Thesmophoria Festival—Aristophanes lived through a tumultuous era that encompassed the Peloponnesian War, two oligarchic revolutions, and two democratic restorations. He is thought to have written some forty plays, eleven of which are extant, and he died around 388 bc.

All Writing

Oh, democracy! Whither are you leading us?

—Aristophanes, 414 BC


Greek dramatist Aristophanes, in the 423 bc comedy The Clouds, coined the term rhaphanidosis, “the humiliating act of thrusting a radish up the anus as a punishment for adultery.”

Have you ever, looking up, seen a cloud like to a centaur, a leopard, a wolf, or a bull?

—Aristophanes, 423 BC

Voices In Time

411 BC | Athens

Cleaning House

One woman’s attempt to end the Peloponnesian War.More

You have all the characteristics of a popular politician: a horrible voice, bad breeding, and a vulgar manner.

—Aristophanes, c. 424 BC

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