Discussion Forum: Week 10

As you prepare to step into your characters this week, think back over the plays of Aristophanes and the dialogues of Plato we read in the first half of the semester; pick one text we read, and consider briefly how a person like your character would have felt seeing it performed in the theater, or hearing Socrates teaching in the agora.

Respond directly to the prompt, or to comments from your fellow students below. Remember that to receive credit for participating, you must comment at least once before the start of class on Wednesday.

You can compose your post in or out of character, as you prefer. But remember, don’t reveal your character’s secrets here! You’re welcome to adopt the stance of a generic member of your faction or simply the kind of person your character is (“a follower of Thrasybulus probably would have enjoyed the part in Plato’s Apology where Socrates says…” or “as a working class Athenian, my character might have rejected Aristophanes’ satire of Cleon because…”).

49 thoughts on “Discussion Forum: Week 10

  1. My character Eryximachus, as a devout follower of Socrates, would not have enjoyed seeing Aristophanes’ Clouds. The depictions of Socrates going against major Athenian cultural values, such as when he disregards the Olympian gods, would have been in stark contrast to Eryximachus’ beliefs as an Athenian citizen. Furthermore, the play does not paint Socrates in a very flattering light. His explanations of the science of weather are reduced in intellectual merit by their comparison to bodily functions, and his teaching practices are dismissed as methods to undermine the legitimacy of Athenian institutions. Eryximachus would also not have liked the way Clouds portrays students of Socrates, through the characters of Strepsiades and his son, as he was a student himself.

    1. I feel like my character, Aristogeiton, would have the exact opposite reaction because he is also anti-Socrates and probably would have enjoyed how Socrates was portrayed. Aristogeiton is also a very religious person and proud of being an Athenian citizen culturally and religiously, so he would have definitely agreed with the idea that Socrates disregards the Olympian gods.

      1. In particular, Aristogeiton would have enjoyed the Bad Arguement vs. Good Argument exchange in Clouds. This scene portrays Socrates as dishonestly cunning as he seems to align with the Bad Argument, which plays on the supposed stupidity of everyday people to make his arguments. Aristogeiton would have seen Socrates’ belief that the average Athenian should not be trusted with having a say in the government as offensive to the ideal of democracy. Socrates’ portrayal in Clouds would have bolstered Aristogeiton’s argument that Socrates has no respect for democracy or faith in the wisdom and ingenuity inherent to the Athenian people, who are therefore more than capable of governing themselves.

    2. I completely agree with this! I think Eryximachus would definitely have found lots of issues with Clouds. In general, I think he wouldn’t have looked entirely fondly on comedies, as they were often poking fun at Socrates, intellectualism, and other aspects of his life. The exception to this could be Aristophanes’ Birds, because it’s outlining a new way of living, however ridiculous, and Eriximachus believed in Socrates’ new way of life, so he might have been able to make a comparison there.

  2. My character Meletus would have enjoyed Aristophanes’ Clouds because he was very anti-Socrates. Meletus and his father were both poets, and Socrates denounced poets and playwrights. In Clouds, Socrates was depicted as a fool and his teachings were ridiculed, which is a sentiment that Meletus would get behind because of his anger towards Socrates. After Phidippides learns from Socrates’ school, he returns as an awful son with wildly unpopular ideologies. Meletus would have found this entertaining as he also believed that Socrates’ teachings only brought negativity to Athens, as backed by the evidence that Socrates was a teacher to many of the Thirty Tyrants.

    1. My character Anytus would likewise have enjoyed Aristophane’s Clouds because he did not agree with Socrates’ view on proper education. Anytus inherited a tannery from his father, but his job was considered a “servile occupation” to Socrates, which caused Anytus to dislike Socrates. Therefore, Anytus would enjoy how Clouds depicts Socrates as a fraud who’s foolish teachings only fill his followers head’s with fluff.

    2. My character Anytus would also have liked Clouds. As someone who was wrongly deemed a traitor and exiled by the Tyrants, as well as whose occupation was deemed ‘servile’ and unsophisticated by Socrates, a comedy denouncing Socrates’ teachings as worthless and ridiculous would have been well received by Anytus.

      1. I forgot to finish my thought oops. Socrates’ inflammatory ideas that he often proposed were often satirized by Aristophanes, and Anytus would have appreciated this. The subordination of the tenets that hold up Athenian democracy that Socrates often engaged in was dangerous, and Clouds brought the people a needed opposing opinion.

  3. Meletus, my character, would not have enjoyed Aristophanes’s blatant mockery of democracy in Knights. Meletus was a radical democrat who supported the broadening of enfranchisement in Athens and expanding citizenship to more people. He was clearly a man who believed in the benefits of a participatory democracy headed by the people. Therefore, the outright lampooning of democracy present in Knights would not have sat well with him. The voting populace, represented by Mr. Demos, is shown to be a bumbling fool who is easily satisfied with flattery and gifts. Despite wielding a great amount of power, he is easily manipulated and frequently switches between which candidate (Paphlagon and the Sausage Seller) he favors depending on who dispensed the most recent flattery/gift. As someone who was a firm believer in the value of democracy and the will of the people, this depiction of them would have been against everything Meletus stood for.

  4. My character, Diognetus, was an avid lover of the theater and often acted as the role of a producer or choregos. Diognetus was also from a fairly affluent background. He would have really liked how Aristophanes commented on Athenian culture and lifestyle in the satirical play of the Clouds. Diognetus, would’ve enjoyed how Socrates was critiqued and would have liked the take that playwrites/poets mattered. I also think that because Diognetus was not a huge fan of Tyranny, he would have enjoyed the commentary on this style of rule.

  5. My character, Aristarchus, has no opinions on Clouds. Why you make ask? Because he was too busy being the backbone of our once-great state as a land owning farmer. When he was not farming, he was defending Athens in its time of need. He protected the women left behind and all without help. Though, follower of the Solonian Aristocrats would agree with some of the criticisms that Clouds poses towards democracy.

    1. I believe that my character, Lyeseeus, also would have little to no opinion on clouds. As a metic, he is not allowed to vote, hold assemblies, or participate in any form of politics, and yet he still has to pay taxes! Additionally, he was a major factor in how Thasybulus gained enough money and supplies to ward off the thirty tyrants. My character is far too busy rallying support to gain citizenship to mule over mundane plays that do not correctly concern him

      1. I agree with Zoe in that the character Lysias is a wealthy, educated and contributing metic that is denied citizenship based off the fact that he did not defend from an athenian bloodline and that he is very concerned with gaining the right to citizenship. However,
        Lysias would likely laugh at the satire of Clouds poking fun at Socrates because Lysias is not a fan of socrates teaches, but rather opposes them. Many followers of the Thirty Tyrants, who hurt Lysias, were encouraged and inspired by Socrates teachings. Lysias defiantly would agree that Socrates teachings are not only foolish, but also dangerous as he believed that Socrates teachings were antidemocratic and somewhat responsible for inspiring the tyrannical wrath of the Thirty.

    2. I, Lithicles, endorse Clouds’s criticisms of democracy, as Aristarchus does. We need the rich, educated men to have control over Athens. This small group of men will have all of the Athenians’ best interests at heart. Although, like Aristarchus, I too am more focused on rebuilding the walls than worrying about Clouds’s political discourse. I am set on rebuilding the walls, honoring my father and grandfather’s legacy, and working towards getting more land for the privileged Athenians.

  6. I believe that Diognetus would have enjoyed watching Aristophanes’ Birds in the theater. As a choregos, Diognetus was very passionate about the theater. He produced many successful plays. Diognetus would help to create the sets for these plays and would help the actors and singers prepare for their performances. Diognetus also funded his productions. I believe that Diognetus would be fascinated by the visual details, symbolism, and comedy of Birds. This is a play that I imagine would be visually stunning and substantively compelling to a person who is deeply invested in the theater.

  7. My character Xenophon would have loved Aristophanes Knights. Xenophon did not like democracy and believed that democracy was one of the main reasons for the downfall of Athens. This play completely mocks democracy by representing it as a cranky, unintelligent old man named Mr.Demos. My character, an aristocrat, would have laughed so much at Mr.Demos and agreed that democracy gives power to people who don’t deserve it. Mr.demos was a person with a lot of power but not very strong mentally and therefore seems not able to make good decisions. This is how my character looks at most common people.

  8. My character, Gorgias, would be conflicted reading Aristophanes’ Clouds. He would be most pleasantly surprised to hear about the growth of educational techniques as he believes that every individual in Athens should have access to education in various forms. Moreover, he believes that the ongoing memorization of lines of plays, for example, is useless in developing the mind of young Athenians. However, he does not think one should have to pay for his education. On the other hand, Gorgias would not support the depiction of Socrates in general, not because Gorgias agrees with or supports him, but simply because he does not believe Socrates deserves any sort of fame.

  9. As a follower of Socrates, Simon would have been very opposed to the depiction of Socrates in Aristophanes’ Clouds as it makes a mockery out of many of Socrates’ teachings that Simon takes very literally and to heart. What would upset Simon most concerning Clouds is the attempt to push what Socrates is saying to the outskirts of society and posit his teachings as something comical. Further, Simon sees his loyalties to both Athens and Socrates as not at odds with each other but rather inherently connected so the subversion of Socrates from Athenian life and proper discourse is seen as harmful by Simon. On the other hand, Simon very well may have enjoyed the play Knights as he agrees with the general sentiment that voters are swayed by acts of deception and puffery rather than what is actually important.

  10. Socrates’ portrayal in Clouds would cause mixed emotions in my character Phormisius. Although Socrates and my character have similar beliefs on democracy, we diverge on who should have authority over and access to make political decisions in Athens. I would disagree with Socrates as a wealthy landowner because I believe that only intelligent, wealthy individuals should have a voice in choices affecting Athens.

    1. I agree with tkuzbari here as my character would be quite conflicted with the portrayal of Socrates. Militades is a character of honor who respects and believes in Socrates criticisms of democracy. However, Militades is quite aware how annoying Socrates can be and his wordy arguments that can easily be lost in translation. Overall, Militades would find clouds comical, but would never tell anyone this.

      1. My character is a young wealthy aristocrat from a renowned family who is training to be a priest but yearns for the glory of battle. Therefore, in a similar sense to Clay, I think that my character would have conflicted feelings during the showing of Clouds. He most likely would oppose the blatant disrespect of traditional Athenian religious beliefs, but find points in the play which criticize democracy to be funny and true. My sense is that he would find himself laughing during the play, yet have subtle feelings of uneasiness.

  11. Thrasybulus would be opposed to Plato’s Apology because he is not a supporter of Socrates. In fact, various followers of Thrasybulus were involved in the real trial of Socrates, which is why Thrasybulus would never give validity to his defense. Thrasybulus, a war hero, would never pity Socrates, as he recognizes that his influence on the polis has placed democracy at risk during the Peloponnesian War. Additionally, Socrates and Thrasybulus are almost at odds when it comes to their commitment to the polis. While Thrasybulus is dutiful in his loyalty to Athens, Socrates does not hesitate to question and critique Athens and democracy.

  12. My character would have most likely enjoyed clouds by Aristophanes due to its depiction of Socrates. Overall, my character would not have been as receptive to the ideas of Socrates and found it funny to see a joke made about his teachings.

  13. My character Thrasybulus, would not fall for Socrates’s pathetic excuses of a defense in the apology. He would be unimpressed by Socrates’s initial begging to be understood because he hasn’t been in court before. As a military leader and a saviour of athens Thrasybulus would feel that individuals with strong character help the city thrive so Socrates making himself look weak would create doubt of believability in his statements. Thrasybulus would also despise the fact that Socrates stated he had “no leisure to get involved in civic duties”. Since saving the city from the 30 was critical to Thrasybulus ideals, he would find Socrates to be a detriment to the city or at the very least, a nuisance to society in general.

  14. I am Aristarchus. I have read Clouds, it was a pretty good read. Oh course I have read it, as an intellectual who hasn’t? If you had to ask me then you clearly don’t know me. Reading is nice and all but id rather talk about my land. I don’t talk to women though, I see enough of those hysterical creatures at my home. Such chivalry I have to take the poor things, they had no place to go. As any true proud Athenian should do

  15. My character Archinus, in my opinion would not have found amusement in Aristophanes Knights. My character is a devout democratic, believing that democracy is not only a source of imperial greatness, but also a political system that affirms the worth
    of every Athenian. This play is a flat out mockery of democracy and is the opposite of what my character stands for. My character had stood in the Pnyx as a child, arms outstretched, giving speeches in defense of Athenian democracy. My character is an advad believer in democracy so the Knights would have made Archinus very upset.

  16. My character would have had mixed feelings about Socrates’ proposition of a utopia in Plato’s Republic. Socrates’ proposal indicates that he does not believe democracy to be the best form of government, which would directly challenge my character’s belief that democracy is the best form of government. However, my character would not be completely opposed to the ideas of censorship presented as long as they prevent a civil war and help Athens focus on improving (as opposed to lingering on the past).

  17. While my character Theozotides was a veteran and a devout follower of democracy, so he may have taken some issues with the portrayal of warriors and the bumbling politicians he would still have enjoyed these plays as Theozotides is a large supporter of the Athenian golden age of art, architecture, craftsmanship, and esteem. He would love to see a return to these ideals in the coming years.

  18. As a follower of Socrates, my character would agreed with Plato’s apology. My character thinks Socrates did not corrupt the youth but instead challenged them to question traditional values and norms. Additionally, my character opposes the radical democrats that are making problems for Socrates.

  19. My character got a mention in Lysistrata. While this may not be exactly what the prompt was asking, I am thinking a lot about what that would feel like. To be a person that is recognized enough that you were featured in a comedy. Would it be appealing? Seemingly Lycon was mentioned in a more negative connotation (as someone that was disliked by the Old Men.) Would the appearance of your name be a form of flattery? More seriously, Lycon (in history) was one of the rhotoricians/orators who brought forward the trial against Socrates. I do not think that he would be very understanding of Socrates case in apology, as he was literally one of the people who put Socrates in this situation.

  20. I think my character, as a follower of Thrasybulus would be offended and against the ideas in Aristophanes’ Birds. This is because the whole premise of the play is two people who decided to go against society and attempt to create their own society. Not to mention they then create a society, that although originally pitched as a type of utopia, very soon becomes quite the opposite. The two main characters are truly only taking their own opinions into account and soon create a quasi-tyrannical rule over this new society. I think my character as well as my faction would be appalled at the idea of going against democracy, creating a society based on only few opinions, and of course tyranny.

  21. My Character, Aristocles, would have loved to hear his leader Socrates speak his wisdom. He would have been right there in the conversation that Socrates has in the Republic, taking in what Socrates said and adding his own ideas as well. Aristocles would agree with Socrates that depending on your role in society, you will have a different type of education. He would agree that farmers must learn the proper techniques for farming but do not need to know the intricacies of shoe making or pottery. Overall, Aristocles as an avid follower of Socrates would enjoy any work that displays Socratic ideas.

  22. I think my character Euclides would be very intrigued by Platos Apology . As a periclean democrat there are many issues that Euclides would find fault with but I think it would still give him a lot to think about. In particular the statements made how ” the unexamined life is not worth living” and that “knowing that you know nothing is wisdom” would give Euclides a pause and lead to some deep introspection.

  23. My character is Aristocles. I think my character would have had many thoughts surrounding Arisophanes’ Birds. Aristocles had a very specific idea of what an ideal philosophical utopia would look like, and Birds pokes a lot of fun at the idea of a utopia. I had trouble imagining what my character would think specifically- either he would be amused and interested in the idea of being critical of Athens (as Aristocles was), or he would be upset at Aristophanes for making light of such a prevalent philosophical topic.

  24. My character, Lithicles, would have agreed with Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, mainly due to its anti-democratic themes. I agree with Aristophanes that democracy is prone to manipulation, and believe leadership by a select few would be beneficial. My main priority is the strength and expansion of Athens, especially its walls and borders, and prosperity for the upper members of Athens.

  25. My character Antaeus as a Follower of Socrates would not have enjoyed the play Clouds. My character believes that philosophers hold a very important leadership role in Athenian society and so he would not have enjoyed seeing Socrates being mocked. Specifically, Antaeus would not enjoy seeing Socrates being portrayed as out of touch with society because he is concerned with unimportant issues, such as the size of a fly’s feet.

  26. I think my character, Callias, would have generally been at least interested in Plato’s Republic. But I don’t think Plato (Socrates) would actually agree with Callias’ interpretation. Callias would agree that a ruling class would be best for the city, but might not necessarily agree with Socrates on what determines who should be in charge. I also imagine he loved hanging around symposiums with other people he considered important.

    1. As a follower of Socrates, Crito would have enjoyed hearing Socrates speak about justice (as he did in The Republic) in the Agora. He would appreciate how Socrates seeks the truth about justice, and the ideas Socrates presents on making a better society. The evaluation of justice as not being achieved through harm would impact how he pursues social change, especially in light of the recent overthrow of the Thirty Tyrants.

  27. My character Callias would generally enjoy Plato’s Republic. He would see it as an important critique of democracy and agree with the proposed orderly society. He would like the idea of the guardians more than random lotteries, the best and smartest citizens should lead Athens. I would imagine that he would see himself as a guardian of Athens, however, I think Callias is more pragmatic and practical and not as ideological as the republic.

  28. A lot of people have written abbout Aristophanes’ Clouds. I think my charhachter Heerodion would have found the play amusing. Although he does agree with Socrates on certain points, Herodion is a great lover of comediesr.

  29. I believe my character, an ex-general and historian who is coming back to Athens from exile, would be intrigued by Clouds. I don’t think he personally would have a super strong opinion on the play, however, I do think he would be facilitated by how it impacted Athens. He would enjoy studying how Clouds, as well as other similar plays/pieces of media, influenced Athenian views of politics. This is most certainly something that he would include his historical writing.

  30. My character would have enjoyed any plays or satires that criticized elitism, as he clings strongly to his political views and would love to see them amplified on screen. However, he would have disliked Socrates given Socrates’ criticism of democracy and his challenges of the system, so my character would have hated Socrates’ speaking and loved Clouds 🙂

  31. My character, Herodion, is a passionate lover of the theater and would have enjoyed seeing any of Aristophanes’s works performed, however he also would have disapproved of Aristophanes’s mockery of Socrates as he found Socrates’s idea of a utopian world very compelling. He would have enjoyed hearing Socrates speak in the agora and would have been interested in the idea of a utopia ruled by educated philosophers and communal sexual relations. He would have really enjoyed Lysistrata and how it satirized the incompetence of the leaders of Athens during the Peloponnisian war.

  32. In Aristophanes’ “Clouds,” Socrates is presented stereotypically– a teacher who believes in different gods. I think Crito would have been frustrated with this because he profoundly respects Socrates and believes his manner of thought is what Athens needs. I also think Socrates being portrayed this way would frighten Crito because he knows this perpetuates a lousy image of him to the public. Crito cares for Socrates and his family, which builds to Socrates’ perception as annoying and an outsider to common thought.

    I don’t think he would object to Socrates labeled as a teacher though as Crito considered him one on his own.

  33. My character, Kephisophon, probably would have enjoyed Aristophones’ “Birds”, as it portrays a tyrant who controls a population through persuasive means, and uses their strength to make himself superior to everyone else, including the gods. Seeing this play, Kephisophon would have seen that it was a story about questioning your leaders and their motives, since the protagonist of the story uses the birds to take power for himself, while seeing himself as greater than the gods.

  34. I’m really not sure how my character would view Clouds. Thucydides does not seem too driven by entertainment or comedy – much of his life has been spent serving a purpose. For this reason, I think he might enjoy the notion that everyone has a specialized job. On the other hand, however, I think Thucydides would have agreed fundamentally with a lot of the stuff Socrates had to say, even if he didn’t enjoy the rhetoric with which it was said.

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