In connection with an event in the Classics Library’s Reading Room on March 28 to celebrate the life and works of the Greek comedy playwright Aristophanes (with lecture, recital of Lysistrata, “Dionysian” music, and Greek food), here are some of our favorite Aristophanes quotes.
“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something witty” (Knights 95-96).
“Always keep the people on your side by sweetening them with gourmet bons mots” (Knights 215-16).
“By words the mind is winged” (Birds 1447-48).
“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy” (Assemblywomen 206-208).
“Let each man exercise the art he knows” (Wasps 1431).
“High thoughts must have high language” (Frogs 1058-59).
“[Y]ou possess all the attributes of a demagogue; a screeching, horrible voice, a perverse, crossgrained nature and the language of the market-place. In you all is united which is needful for governing” (Knights 217-219).
“You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way it’s only in troublous times that you line your pockets” (Knights 864-67).
“It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls” (Birds 378-79).
“What matters that I was born a woman, if I can cure your misfortunes? I pay my share of tolls and taxes, by giving men to the State. But you, you miserable greybeards, you contribute nothing to the public charges; on the contrary, you have wasted the treasure of our forefathers, as it was called, the treasure amassed in the days of the Persian Wars. You pay nothing at all in return; and into the bargain you endanger our lives and liberties by your mistakes. Have you one word to say for yourselves?… Ah! don’t irritate me, you there, or I’ll lay my slipper across your jaws; and it’s pretty heavy” (Lysistrata 649-657).
“[Y]ou [man] are fool enough, it seems, to dare to war with [woman=] me, when for your faithful ally you might win me easily” (Lysistrata 1016-17).
“Under every stone lurks a politician” (Thesmophoriazusae 529-30).
“A man can learn wisdom even from a foe” (Birds 375).
“Politics, these days, is no occupation for an educated man, a man of character.
Ignorance and total lousiness are better” (Knights 191-93) — Rebecka’s favorite quote.
“Men of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war; and this lesson saves their children, their homes, and their properties” (Birds 375-80).
“Comedy too can sometimes discern what is right” (Acharnians 500).
“Shrines! Shrines! Surely you don’t believe in the gods. What’s your argument? Where’s your proof” (Knights 32-33)?
“Have you ever looked up and seen a cloud resembling a centaur, or a leopard, or a wolf, or a bull” (Clouds 346-47) — Mike’s favorite quote 1.
“Socrates: No, I just want to ask you a few questions. For instance, do you have a good memory?
Strepsiades: Yes and no, by Zeus: if I’m owed something, it’s good, but if I’m the hapless debtor, it’s bad” (Clouds 482-85).
“… and it is my heart’s desire, after many a long season, to embrace the fig trees that I planted myself when I was young” (Peace 558-59).
“Well, in our opinion it’s possible to hear them out first; a wise person can in fact learn something beneficial even from his enemies” (Birds 381-82).
“Ah democracy, what will you bring us to in the end, if the gods can elect this person ambassador” (Birds 1570-71)?
“One’s country is wherever one does well” (Wealth 1151).
“When I’m in the audience and see one of those clever bits, I go home a whole year older” (Frogs 16-18) – Angelica’s favorite quote.
“…brekekekex koax koax!” (Frogs 210) — Mike’s favorite quote 2.