The Birds and Other Plays

The Birds and Other Plays

Translator: David Barrett
Translator: Alan Sommerstein

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140449518
  • 336 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


Five comedies from Ancient Greece that freely blend satire and slapstick

Offering a window into the world of ordinary Athenians, Aristophanes’ The Birds and Other Plays is a timeless set of comedies, combining witty satire and raucous slapstick to wonderful effect. The plays in this volume all contain Aristophanes’ trademark bawdy comedy and dazzling verbal agility. In The Birds, two cunning Athenians persuade the birds to build the utopian city of ‘Much Cuckoo in the Clouds’ in the sky, blockading the Olympian gods and installing themselves as new deities. The Knights is a venomous satire on Cleon, a prominent Athenian demagogue, who vies with a humble sausage-seller for the approval of the people; while The Assembly-Women deals with the battle of the sexes as the women of Athens infiltrate the all-male Assembly in disguise. The lengthy conflict with Sparta is the subject of Peace, inspired by the hope of a settlement in 421 BC, and Wealth reflects on the economic catastrophe that hit Athens after the war.

These lively translations by David Barrett and Alan H. Sommerstein capture the full humour of the plays. The introduction examines Aristophanes’ life and times, and the comedy and poetry of his works, and this edition also includes an introductory note for each play. 

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Table of Contents

The Birds and Other PlaysAbout the Author7

Aristophanes in Antiquity9

Aristophanes, Comedian and Poet21

The Knights29


The Birds147

The Assemblywoman215



Select Bibliography336

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