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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aristophanes' The Clouds

I'm reading the Clouds by Aristophanes. A couple of details jump out at me. One, it includes the phrase, "Children are best seen and not heard." I thought my dad and my uncles invented that phrase. Not really, but I am surprised it goes back to 423 B.C. Two, the slur for old people is Methuselah. I am frustrated because as many as three minutes of searching the internet has not revealed anything interesting on whether Aristophanes is borrowing Methuselah from the Hebrew tradition, or whether they are both borrowing from a third source. The name does not appear to means "old one" or anything.

Generally, the play's dramatic anti-intellectual theme is curious. As you may know, in the Apology, Plato blames Aristophanes for starting the rumor that Socrates is an atheist. Socrates in the blames is pompus and worried about foolish things. The middle-class landowner that tries to learn how to argue to get out of debt quickly realizes that he is too old to learn Socrates' complex ways. Although, it seems pretty clear, the landowner is the one the audience is supposed to sympathize with.

I guess our love hate relationship with thinkers goes back a long way.

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