The Political Theory of Aristophanes

Explorations in Poetic Wisdom

Edited by Jeremy J. Mhire & Bryan-Paul Frost

Subjects: Political Philosophy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Literary Criticism
Paperback : 9781438450049, 370 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438450032, 370 pages, April 2014

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Table of contents

Bryan-Paul Frost
Part I
1. Seeing Democracy in the Clouds
John Lombardini
2. The Meaning of Socrates’ Asceticism in Aristophanes’ Clouds
Khalil M. Habib
3. Rethinking the Quarrel Anew: Politics and Boasting in Aristophanes’ Clouds
Jeremy J. Mhire
Part II
4. Persuasion in Comedy and Comic Persuasion: Aristophanes and the Mysteries of Rhetoric
John Zimmerman
5. Boundaries: The Comic Poet Confronts the “Who” of Political Action
Arlene W. Saxonhouse
6. Aristophanes and the Polis
Stephanie Nelson
7. On the Anabasis of Trygaeus: An Introduction to Aristophanes’ Peace
Wayne Ambler
8. Aristophanes’ Herodotean Inquiry: the Meaning of Athenian Imperialism in the Birds
Kenneth DeLuca
9. Learning the Lesson of Dionysus: Aristophanes’ Tragicomic Wisdom and Poetic Politics in the Frogs
Christopher Baldwin
10. Wealth and the Theology of Charity
Paul W. Ludwig
Part III
11. Anger in Thucydides and Aristophanes: The Case of Cleon
Timothy W. Burns
12. The Comedy of the Just City: Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen and Plato’s Republic
Peter Nichols
13. Peisetairos of Aristophanes’ Birds and the Erotic Tyrant of Republic IX
Matthew Meyer
14. Aristophanes’ Feminine Comedies and Socratic Political Science
Amy L. Bonnette
Part IV
15. Leo Strauss’s UnSocratic Aristophanes?
Devin Stauffer
About the Authors

Examines the political dimensions of Aristophanes’ comic poetry.


This original and wide-ranging collection of essays offers, for the first time, a comprehensive examination of the political dimensions of that madcap comic poet Aristophanes. Rejecting the claim that Aristophanes is little more than a mere comedian, the contributors to this fascinating volume demonstrate that Aristophanes deserves to be placed in the ranks of the greatest Greek political thinkers. As these essays reveal, all of Aristophanes' plays treat issues of fundamental political importance, from war and peace, poverty and wealth, the relation between the sexes, demagoguery and democracy to the role of philosophy and poetry in political society. Accessible to students as well as scholars, The Political Theory of Aristophanes can be utilized easily in the classroom, but at the same time serve as a valuable source for those conducting more advanced research. Whether the field is political philosophy, classical studies, history, or literary criticism, this work will make it necessary to reconceptualize how we understand this great Athenian poet and force us to recognize the political ramifications and underpinnings of his uproarious comedies.

Jeremy J. Mhire is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Louisiana Tech University. Bryan-Paul Frost is James A. and Kaye L. Crocker Endowed Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the coeditor (with Jeffrey Sikkenga) of History of American Political Thought.


"…this book is an innovative, significant contribution to Aristophanic studies. The editors deserve praise for assembling a varied group of notable political theorists and classical scholars who mine Aristophanes' work with significant skill and patience." — Polis