7. Aristophanes

‘The Clouds’ by Aristophanes, Quoted by Wikipedia: 
’… &: ‘The Frogs,’ 
’the Wasps,’
’the Knights’ and 
’the Birds’:

In ‘The Wasps’ he ridiculed the Athenian law courts, 

… “The jurors have been considered the most vividly realized Chorus in Old Comedy; …

The [Bird’s] plot revolves around [a central figure,] an Athenian who convinces the birds to create a great city in the sky… and thus regain their status as the original gods. [The central figure of the story] eventually transforms into a bird-like god himself, and replaces Zeus as the king of the gods.
The underlying political theme of ‘The Frogs’ is essentially “old ways good, new ways bad”… the last lines of the play suggest Athens ought to look for a less stubborn end to the war… The exiled general Alcibiades is a main focus of ‘The Frogs.’ At the time the play was written and produced, Athens was in dire straits in the war with the Peloponnesian League, and the people… ‘The Frogs’ tells the story of the god Dionysus, who, despairing of the state of Athen’s tragedians, travels to Hades (the underworld) to bring the playwright Euripides back from the dead.

Aristophanes was a comedy-writer of Ancient Greece. He’s said to have been known as ‘The Father of Comedy,’ and ‘The Prince of Ancient Comedy.’ Only eleven out of forty of his plays survive virtually complete. Some of his notable works include ‘The Clouds,’ ‘The Wasps,’ ‘The Birds,’ and ‘The Frogs.’ … His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries… In my opinion,” he says in that play’s Chorus, “the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all.” Aristophanes works: ‘The Clouds’ is a play lampooning the intellectual fashions of classical Athens… in 423 BC… the play remains notorious for its caricature of Socrates. Plato singled out Aristophanes’ play ‘The Clouds’ as slander that contributed to the trial and subsequent condemning to death of Socrates… although other satirical playwrights had also caricatured the philosopher.


I am perpetually designing new robotics, and instruments of many kinds, in order to play with, or for use in research… I start many projects of various kinds, but currently I am not working; I’m not thinking, … of challenges. The premiere challenge of probably my early chilhdhood life is crafting of the personality itself… of the characters: their personas, their transformations and story arcs, from the laboratory to the stage—and that total staged-performance… how to capture that, within their programming…? They are more than the sum total of their part… automaton parts, that can… well, they’re at the point now where they’re more of a reflection of their environment, and a robot second. It was all for maximal play. “What higher end?” he thought. It was unanswerable.

Aristophanes Works, continued quotation:
“A typical Aristophanic Chorus, even if it starts out as hostile to the protagonist, is the protagonist’s cheer squad by the end of the play. In ‘The Clouds’ however, the Chorus seems sympathetic at first but emerges as virtual antagonist by the end of the play…”

The play managed only winning second place… ‘The Clouds’ can best be understood in relation [Aristophanes] to Plato’s works, as evidence of a historic rivalry between poetic and philosophical modes of thought.” … struggling to overcome an addiction and it represents in allegorical form the theme expressed by the Chorus in the parabasis: the old customs are better and more manly than the new fashions. When the play opens, [the protagonist] is a prisoner of his son and, when the Chorus enters, the old jurors are found to be virtual prisoners of their sons too—they rely on the boys to help them through the dark, muddy streets. The Chorus leader’s boy takes full advantage of the situation, threatening to abandon his elderly father if he won’t buy him some figs… 

Alcibiades, [although] later known as a dashing general and a winning aristocrat, he was not yet a major public figure and here is mentioned… only for his lisp… and he is later mentioned in ‘The Frogs.’” Aristophanes’ plays promote conservative values and support an honorable peace with Sparta, whereas Cleon was a radical democrat and a leader of the pro-war faction… In ‘The Birds,’ [Aristophanes] also only managed to win second place… It has been acclaimed by modern critics as a perfectly realized fantasy remarkable for its mimicry of birds and for the gaiety of its songs… The setting [of ‘The Birds’] is a hillside wilderness outside the Hoopoe’s nest… The plot revolves around [a central figure,] an Athenian who convinces the birds to create a great city in the sky… and thus regain their status as the original gods. [The central figure of the story] eventually transforms into a bird-like god himself, and replaces Zeus as the king of the gods. When ‘The Birds’ was performed in 414 BC, Athenians were still optimistic about the future of the Sicilian expedition, which had set out the year before under the joint command of Alcibiades, who had promoted it enthusiastically, and Athens’ most experienced general, Nicias, who had opposed the venture. In spite of this public optimism, there was an ongoing controversy in Athens over the mutilation of the Hermai, an act of impious vandalism that had cast ominous doubts over the Sicilian Expedition even before the fleet had left port. The vandalism had resulted in a ‘witch-hunt’ led by religious extremists and endorsed by priests of the Eleusinian Mysteries… Alcibiades himself was suspected of involvement in anti-religious activities and a state ship ‘Salaminia’ was sent to Sicily to bring him back to trial. However, he managed to escape from custody… Alcibiades had already been a controversial figure in Athenian politics for some years before then…”
In ‘The Frogs’ Aristophanes performed his play for a festival of Dionysus in Athens, in 405 BC, and received first prize… the underlying political theme of ‘The Frogs’ is essentially “old ways good, new ways bad”… the last lines of the play suggest Athens ought to look for a less stubborn end to the war… Also, ‘The Frogs’ contains solid, serious messages which represent significant differences from general critiques of policy and idealistic thoughts of good peace terms. During the parabasis Aristophanes presents advice to give the rights of citizens back to people who had participated in the oligarchic revolution in 411 BC”… arguing they were misled by… the ‘tricks’ (literally ‘wrestlings’)… of the exiled general Alcibiades is a main focus of ‘The Frogs.’ At the time the play was written and produced, Athens was in dire straits in the war with the Peloponnesian League… the structure of ‘The Frogs’ is as follows: In the first section Dionysus’ has the goal of gaining admission to Pluto’s palace, and he does so… in the dialogue between the slaves a power struggle between Euripides [famous playwrite of another generation] and Aeschylus [famous playwrite of Tragedy] is revealed. Euripides is jealous of the other’s place as the greatest tragic poet. Dionysus is asked by Pluto to mediate the contest. ‘The Frogs’ is unique in its structure because it combines two forms of comic motifs, a journey motif and contest… motif. ‘The Frogs’ tells the story of the god Dionysus, who, despairing of the state of Athen’s tragedians, travels to Hades (the underworld) to bring the playwright Euripides back from the dead. He brings along his slave Xanthias, who is smarter and braver than Dionysus. As the play opens, Xanthias and Dionysus argue over what kind of jokes Xanthias can use to open the play. For the first half of the play, Dionysus routinely makes critical errors, forcing Xanthias to improvise in order to protect his master and prevent Dionysus from looking incompetent—but this only allows Dionysus to continue to make mistakes with no consequence. To find a reliable path to Hades, Dionysus seeks advice from his half-brother Heracles, who had been there before in order to retrieve the hell bound Cerberus. Dionysus shows up at his doorstep dressed in a lion-hide and carrying a club. Heracles, upon seeing the effeminate Dionysus dressed up like himself, can’t help laughing. When Dionysus asks which road is the quickest to get to Hades, Heracles tells him that he can hang himself, drink poison, or jump off a tower. Dionysus opts for the longer journey, which Heracles himself had taken, across a lake (possibly Lake Acheron). When Dionysus arrives at the lake, Charon ferries him across. Xanthias, being a slave, is not allowed in the boat, and has to walk around it, while Dionysus is made to help row the boat. This is the point of the first choral interlude (‘parodos’), sung by the eponymous chorus of frogs (the only song in which frogs feature in the play). Their croaking refrain—‘Brekekekèx-koàx-koáx’—greatly annoys Dionysus, who engages in a mocking debate (‘agon’) with the frogs.”
“The next encounter is with Aeacus, who mistakes Dionysus or Heracles due to his attire. Still angry over Heracles’ theft of Cerberus, Aeacus threatens to unleash several monsters on him in revenge. Frightened, Dionysus trades clothes with Xanthias. A maid then arrives and is happy to see Heracles. She invites him to a feast with virgin dancing girls, and Xanthias is more than happy to oblige. But Dionysus quickly wants to trade back the clothes. Dionysus, back in the Heracles lion-skin, encounters more people angry at Heracles, and so makes Xanthias trade for a third time. When Aeacus returns to confront the alleged Heracles (i.e. Xanthias). Xanthias offers him his “slave” (Dionysus) for torturing, to obtain the truth as to whether or not he is really a thief. The terrified Dionysus tells the truth that he is a god. After each is whipped, Dionysus is brought before Aeascus’ masters, and the truth is verified… Euripides, who had only just died, is challenging the great Aeschylus for the seat of “Best Tragic Poet” at the dinner table of Pluto, the ruler of the Underworld. A contest is held with Dionysus as judge. The two playwrights take turns quoting verses from their plays and making fun of the other. Euripides argues the characters in his plays are better because they are more true to life and logical, whereas Aeschylus believes his idealized characters are, as they are heroic and models for virtue. Aeschylus mocks Euripides’ verse as predictable and formulaic by having Euripides quote lines from many of his ‘prologues,’ each time interrupting the declamation with the same phrase (“…lost his little flask of oil”). Euripides counters by demonstrating the alleged monotony of Aeschylus’ choral songs, parodying excerpts from his works and having each citation end in the same refrain… (“oh, what a stroke, won’t you come to the rescue?”, from Aeschylus’ lost play ‘Myrmidons’). Aeschylus retorts to this by mocking Euripides’ choral meters and lyric monodies with ‘castanets.’ During the contest, Dionysus redeems himself for his earlier role as the butt of every joke. He now rules the stage, adjudicating the contestants’ squabbles fairly, breaking up their prolonged rants, and applying a deep understanding of Greek tragedy. To end the debate, a balance is brought in and each are told to tell a few lines into it. Whoever’s lines have the most “weight” will cause the balance to tip in their favor. Euripides produces verses of his that mention, in turn, the ship ‘Argo’, Persuasion and a mace. Aeschylus responds with the river Spercheios, Death and two crashed chariots and two dead charioteers. Since the latter verses [merely] refer to “heavier” objects, Aeschylus wins, but Dionysus is still unable to decide whom he will revive. He finally decides to take the poet who gives the best advice about how to save the city. Euripides gives clearly worded but essentially meaningless answers while Aeschylus provides more practical advice, and Dionysus decides to take Aeschylus back instead of Euripides. Pluto allows Aeschylus to return to life so that Athens may be succoured in her hour and need and invites everyone to a round of farewell drinks. Before leaving, Aeschylus proclaims that Sophocles should have his chair while he is gone, not Euripides.”

The boy from Sapphire’s world has been centered around learning to use the body; his philosophy is of usefulness within his environment. The restrictions upon his imagination are not only self-imposed, they are also an imposition of his society. He is, as are all Sapphire tribesman, an analog imprint of his environment. We all are.
Any man who has spent time meditating will be rewarded, eventually, with powers of the mind. One day they may find themselves floating, in a manner of speaking, observing himself, ‘he’ observing himself, from afar, or at least from some distance; at another moment they are engaging themselves in content, any way in which they need to navigate… upon the seas upon a craft, or for work within a career—still floating—even when the anchor sets down they are never pulled down by them. They will find that their physical body has new plateaus which can be achieved as well, so long as they can still their mind on command. Stillness of the mind aids athleticism as it does aid with everything else one does. An adept will be able to stave off freezing, or survive a gunshot wound, shatter rock with a bare hand, kick into a tree breaking wood and not bone. The Ruby culture, by contrast, sees little value in this kind of worldview. They prefer ‘mere games.’ Games can be a benefit, for one to momentarily dive into, like the Sapphire with their artificial ocean. The sea and the stimulation between Sapphire and Ruby, respectively, have many similar components. The Ruby see little need for “floating,” unless they’re in a hanglider simulation, playing, while they too often see a reason for diving. Powerful visuals, excitable sounds, and intense emotional resonances are preferred, or pleasant company—or outright chemical debauchery. These are not the anchors that satisfy the Sapphire philosophy.
The Ruby people will turn into Superhumans–in their little games. A Sapphire Tribesman seeks to make themselves Superhuman. The Ruby wants… they’re petulant… make demands… this transformation and that transformation, instantly. The Sapphire sees this transformation not worth having without time-spent, something chizzled or sharpened, effort borne in on harnessing some aspect of … 

 They don’t know it, because they don’t really reflect much upon themselves… but the Ruby people find themselves bored much too quickly. 

 Like I said, they are often petulant… if they don’t get something which they’re accustomed to, they can’t handle their perturberance. They know it’s an over-reaction–but they can’t help themselves. In a crisis they would all be liabilities. With these amazing simulation-games they have done next to nothing to achieve the states they seek, artificially, to transiently experience synthetically, never to know the glory offered to them by living within the philosophy of the arrow. Just a simple arrowhead. It can be a lifesaver, any diver knows. It can help build a shelter, and then when it came time to fashion a bow and arrow it could be used, your one good arrow, over and over again. The people who live in Ruby society achieve no understanding of the power of man.
In Sapphire we have an enormous artificial sea… a culture which surrounds the rigorous demands of the oceanic environs. It is not an ordeal like the Ruby like to try and exaggerate it as being… On the coral islands of Sapphire the aim is… to master spear fishing… and to become expert divers… fire-makers… and survivalists… or spend a lot of time in isolation, in contemplation or retrospective. A community of tribesman will be waiting for you when you’re return to return to society. Off alone, or with others… to build shelters… to live minimalistically… and to live without the use of the grand technology of the age as the central focus of a lifetime—the closest thing to a luxuriant technology allowed by them is a book. It’s hard to keep pages from getting wet or sandy. The underwater caverns are good for storing them, or if you’ve built up a stable shelter or township, usually their communities are the size of a village, and you have safe places for storing them–but most people live a life of action here, in reality. They are diving, fishing, spear-fishing, and there are always chores like gathering building materials, fires, cloth and fabric materials.
Some of the biggest Sapphire territories make use of natural craters upon the asteroid, and are massively large. They are large enough lakes to have small wooded islands, and hunting is a possibility, of land creatures, but this is all far more artificial than the real thing.

 Within the plots of coral dry-land, usually housing the dry texts and candle waxes and wicks… hammocks of fibers… in underwater caves. Sapphire is home to many hermits, but their community is generally close-knit and tribal in nature.
Meanwhile, the young Sapphire star-gazer beside us looks up to the cosmos above him with a kind of… gentleness, but also a kind of impartiality. Neither enjoying the scenario particularly, nor bothered by it in any way; he was strange at first from our perspective, but he was funny, and had a really high energy, and it seems like the young man from Sapphire is…
The boy’s attire…he’s got ropes and toughly fashioned clothes, leather straps and mech cloth, like the Sapphires wear, they relinquish diplomatically their own customs, in order to accommodate … and so he is dressed in a simple dark-blue suit for the moment.

King Arthur
“The whole world knows and loves this book. It is the magical epic of King Arthur and his shining Camelot; of Merlyn and Owl and Guinevere; of beasts who talk and men who fly, of wizardry and war. It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad. It is the fantasy masterpiece by which all others are judged.”


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