Reading Questions: Aristophanes’ Clouds 1. What is Strepsiades’ difficulty at the opening of the play? How did he get into this fix? What is his proposed solution? What does the set-up of the plot tell you about Athenian society in the second half of the fifth century, during the early years of the Peloponnesian Wars? 2. How is Socrates presented in the play, and why? Do you find this irreverent portrayal surprising? What does this tell us about the way Socrates was perceived in Athens? What does it tell us about the work and the perception of the “natural philosophers” of the day? 3. What is Aristophanes’ point in making the chorus a group of clouds? How does Aristophanes use them (in the parabasis) to directly address the spectators and judges? 4. What kind of debate is the one between Just Speech and Unjust Speech? What do we learn about Athenian educational practices of the time, and how were they changing? What do you think Aristophanes thinks about these changes? Do you find the arguments of either of the Speeches persuasive? 5. What is the result of Pheidippides’ “education” at the hands of Socrates and his followers? Does Strepsiades get what he wants, or only what’s coming to him? Does the defense of father-beating seem compelling to you? 6. How would you classify this play in terms of its humor? How much of the humor is culture- or situation-based, and how much of it has broader appeal? What could be the civic or religious function of such humor? Do you find the play funny? What is funny for you and why?