A New Reading of the Ending of Aristophanes’ “Clouds”


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Essay #: 054738
Total text length is 7,703 characters (approximately 5.3 pages).

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The beginning:
A New Reading of the Ending of Aristophanes’ "Clouds"
Aristophanes’ Clouds ends with the spectacle of the Athenian Strepsiades burning down the sophistical university known as the Phrontisterion (“thinker”). Historically, this ending has been read in one of two ways: as a violent and illegitimate endorsement of the suppression of the right to corrosive speech, or as a more equivocal defense of the logos of the ordinary over the logos of sophistry. This essay will offer a third possible reading of the ending, arguing that the destruction of the thinker is a futile attempt to resolve the impossibility of a life from which the ideal is absent, and in which the material has failed.
The action of Clouds is driven by...
The end:
.....Clouds: Aristophanic comedy and
democratic education. Rhetoric society quarterly 27(4), 25-46
Kastely offers an excellent overview of the various readings that have been proposed for the ending of Clouds, and also offers helpful historical insights on how the sophistry of the thinkery is a form of possibly atheistic materialism rather than, as laypeople might suspect, some variety of idealistic metaphysics.
Segal, C. (1969). Aristophanes’ cloud’chorus. Arethusa (2). 143-
Segal argues that the ending of the play is a triumph of common sense—a view that I will contest by arguing that, with the categorical elimination of both materialism and idealism as guiding principles for thought and behavior, there is no sense left to which to appeal.