Back to School Offer

Get 20% of Your First Order amount back in Reward Credits!

Get 20% of Your First Orderback in Rewards

All papers examples
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)
HIRE A WRITER!
Paper Types
Disciplines
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)

Socrates and Aristophanes: Separating Fact from Fiction, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 697

Essay

The portrayal of Socrates in Aristophanes’ plays provides the earliest known historical record to the revered philosopher. Interestingly, the day that Aristophanes’ Clouds was performed for the first time, the two other plays on the bill that day also featured Socrates –or, at least, characters based on Socrates. There are relatively few extant documents that offer any information about or insight into the life of Socrates. What documents do exist must be examined in the context of their authorship; it is necessary to understand something about the character, motives, and agendas of those who wrote about Socrates to understand how their portrayals reflect something about themselves as well as something about the real Socrates. Aristophanes understood his audience, and wrote comedies that were purposefully intended to make the audience laugh. As portrayed in the works of Aristophanes, Socrates was a comedic figure, a sometimes-ridiculous buffoon. While this may accurately reflect something about the real man, it is important to remember what Aristophanes was trying to accomplish, and to understand the nature of comedic works in the ancient Athenian culture.

Comedies of the time period, though written to invoke laughter in the audience, also often carried serious social, political, or cultural messages. It was not uncommon for playwrights to skewer and lampoon real members of society, exaggerating those characteristics that would make the audience laugh, and using that exaggeration to make a point about the real person. There seems to be little doubt that Aristophanes did exactly that when crating his fictionalized version of Socrates. The primary sources about Socrates, such as those written by Plato and Xenophon, portray a man whom those authors clearly respected, even revered. Yet Aristophanes wrote about Socrates as someone who was mocked and ridiculed by society. Despite the differences in these portrayals, there may be some truth in each of them.

Aristophanes wrote about Socrates from a different perspective than did Plato or Xenophon. The latter were students of Socrates, and spent a lot of time speaking with him and listening to him discuss his ideas about philosophy. They were clearly influenced by him, and they incorporated many of his ideas into their own writing. Aristophanes, by contrast, was writing about Socrates as a public figure. Socrates was not reported to have been in the habit off gathering or speaking to large crowds, but it seems clear that he did achieve some measure or respect among some members of Athenian society, while also gaining some notoriety among others. In the end, Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens, and of the impiety of not properly acknowledging or revering the officially recognized deities of the day.

It seems likely that Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates aligned well with the conventions of the time. It also seems likely, based on what has been written about Socrates and about what can be inferred about him, that he was a social gadfly and a thorn in the side of many important figures in Athenian society. If Aristophanes was interested in creating a comic figure based on Socrates, it may be that he viewed Socrates in much the same way as did those who did not like him or who rejected his ideas. It could also be that Aristophanes did not necessarily share those views on Socrates, but recognized how many in his audiences felt about the philosopher. Either way, he appealed to that sensibility about Socrates by portraying him as someone to be laughed at and ridiculed.

It may not be possible to say with certainty, but Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates might very well have helped to shape public sentiment about Socrates. If his actual circle of friends and associates was relatively small, then most of what the larger society knew about him would have come from secondhand sources, such as what gossip was spread about him, or how popular playwrights portrayed him. It is certainly possible that the public sentiment against Socrates that eventually helped lead to his execution was fed, at least in part, by the way he was portrayed in works of fiction.

Works Cited

Navia, Lewis E. (2007). Socrates: A life examined. Prometheus Books. Amherst, NY.

Navia, Lewis E. (2002). Socratic testimonies. University Press of America. Lanham, MD.

 

 

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Essay Samples & Examples

Prevent terrorist strikes on American soil, Essay Example

Goal, Objectives, and Strategies The Department’s goal is to protect the homeland by thwarting terrorist threats and implementing emergency plans. These are the Department’s top [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 412

Essay

Science and Technology and Nation-Building, Essay Example

Science plays a pivotal role in technology. The combination of science and technology (S&T) results in the development of new knowledge used to improve human [...]

Pages: 3

Words: 768

Essay

Plato’s Portrayal of Socrates and the Historical Socrates, Essay Example

Socrates, the Athenian philosopher, changed how philosophers thought about the world. However, modern audiences believe that Socrates did not write any of his ideas down [...]

Pages: 5

Words: 1285

Essay

Ambiguity, Essay Example

The New Task I am Proposing My proposal is a promotion at work. I am a Business Development Associate at Universal New York, NY. My [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 278

Essay

Narratives That Shape Our World, Essay Example

The context and the values in the text Othello by William Shakespeare have shaped me in perspective through the main character Othello. I perceive life [...]

Pages: 6

Words: 1574

Essay

Cyber Security Career Path, Essay Example

Background The field of technology is quite intriguing. It’s fascinating to see how different technologies operate and what they have in common. It amazes me [...]

Pages: 7

Words: 1796

Essay

Prevent terrorist strikes on American soil, Essay Example

Goal, Objectives, and Strategies The Department’s goal is to protect the homeland by thwarting terrorist threats and implementing emergency plans. These are the Department’s top [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 412

Essay

Science and Technology and Nation-Building, Essay Example

Science plays a pivotal role in technology. The combination of science and technology (S&T) results in the development of new knowledge used to improve human [...]

Pages: 3

Words: 768

Essay

Plato’s Portrayal of Socrates and the Historical Socrates, Essay Example

Socrates, the Athenian philosopher, changed how philosophers thought about the world. However, modern audiences believe that Socrates did not write any of his ideas down [...]

Pages: 5

Words: 1285

Essay

Ambiguity, Essay Example

The New Task I am Proposing My proposal is a promotion at work. I am a Business Development Associate at Universal New York, NY. My [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 278

Essay

Narratives That Shape Our World, Essay Example

The context and the values in the text Othello by William Shakespeare have shaped me in perspective through the main character Othello. I perceive life [...]

Pages: 6

Words: 1574

Essay

Cyber Security Career Path, Essay Example

Background The field of technology is quite intriguing. It’s fascinating to see how different technologies operate and what they have in common. It amazes me [...]

Pages: 7

Words: 1796

Essay

Get a Free E-Book ($50 in value)

Get a Free E-Book

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!