The Complete Plays Themes

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Cleon and Democracy

One of the central and recurring themes in the plays of Aristophanes is his opposition to Cleon and radical democracy. Aristophanes believed that Cleon and his manipulation of the Demos were at least partially responsible for the continuation of the ruinous war with Sparta. He believed that once the population had lost its moral and civic virtue, it was open to manipulation by crass demagogues like Cleon who would promise the average person petty power and wealth in exchange for votes. Aristophanes' savagely attacks Cleon in most of his plays and was apparently prosecuted by Cleon for treason for some of the accusation he made in his play, Babylonians.

Cleon, whatever his support in the lower and middle classes, offends Aristophanes not only for his policies, but primarily because of his methods. He used his political power to try to silence and intimidate his critics, including...

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This section contains 817 words
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Buy The Complete Plays Study Guide
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