Born: 448 B.C. in Athens, Greece
Died: 385 B.C. in Athens, Greece
Aristophanes was a Greek dramatist, known particularly for his themes of political satire comedy. His work was influential in the political, moral, and religious spheres of the time. In addition to writing plays, he produced and acted in some of them.
His parents were Phillippus and Zendora, land owners of moderate wealth. Aristophanes had three sons who continued in the theater, but never established themselves as well as their father. In 427 B.C., Aristophanes' first play, The Banqueters, was produced while he was still in his teens. This play is no longer in existence.
With Acharnians, Aristophanes won first prize at the Lenaea in 425 B.C. This play was the first in history to deal with an anti-war theme. The anti-war theme is present in many of his major works. The Birds ridicules the disastrous Greek expedition to Sicily in 413 B.C. and the litigation, demagoguery, and warfare that was rampant in Athenian society. This play was first presented at the Athenian Dionysia festival in 414 B.C. and, although it is considered his finest work, the play won only second prize at the festival.
Another play, Lysistrata, was first performed in 411 B.C. In this play (the most frequently produced Greek drama in the modern theatre), women try to coerce men into laying down their weapons by organizing a sex strike. Today, the play is presented on stage or in print as a straight drama. However originally it was a musical comedy with choreography, colorful costumes and masks. During the time in which Aristophanes wrote the play, not only were all the actors male, but in addition, the audience was also comprised almost entirely of men. The idea that women could settle a 27-year war must have seemed quite comical to an Athenian viewer.