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Acharnians

Author: Aristophanes

Genre: Comedy

Year: 425

Description:

Acharnians by Aristophanes

Acharnians a comedy by Aristophanes, was produced at the Lenaea in 425 BC by Callistratus, perhaps because the author was too young to produce it himself. It is
his first surviving play. The Athenians had for six years been suffering the horrors of the Peloponnesian War, the devastation of their territory, plague in the overcrowded city, and shortage of food, but their spirit was unbroken. The Acharnians (inhabitants of an Attic deme lying north-west of Athens near the foot of Mount Parnes), of whom the chorus of the play is composed, had been among the chief sufferers, their territory having been repeatedly ravaged.

The object of the Acharnians was to induce the Athenian people to put an end to the Peloponnesian war, which already threatened the destruction of the State, and a year or two later caused its downfall. For this purpose he represents in vivid colors the comforts they had vainly sacrificed, and ridicules the braddadocios of the day with ever-brightening wit, culminating in genuine Bacchanalian revelry. The Acharnians, was written in the sixth year of the War and, coincidentally, happens to be the world's first anti-war comedy.

The plot revolves around the Acharnians, who crave vengeance for the destruction of their vineyards and an honest citizen, named Dicaeopolis. Dicaeopolis, enraged at the false pretexts for continuing the war with Sparta, sends an embassy to Lacedaemon and concludes a separate peace for himself and his family. In spite of all opposition, he builds an enclosure around his house, within which there is peace and free market for the neighboring people, while the rest of the country is harassed by war. The blessings of peace are exhibited in the most palpable manner, and nothing is thought of but feasting and reveling. The play ends with the lamentations of the one are continually mimicked and derided by the exultations of the other, and with this contrast, which is carried to the highest point, the play ends.

In this play, the most definite political topic in Aristophanes is naturally that which touches the life-and-death struggle between the Athenian and Spartan leagues. He is the spokesman of the peace party, and four of his plays are passionate and eloquent pleas for peace.

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