PEACE was brought out four years after The
Acharnians (422 B.C.), when the War had already lasted
ten years. The leading motive is the same as in the former play--the
intense desire of the less excitable and more moderate-minded
citizens for relief from the miseries of war.
Trygæus, a rustic patriot, finding
no help in men, resolves to ascend to heaven to expostulate personally
with Zeus for allowing this wretched state of things to continue.
With this object he has fed and trained a gigantic dung-beetle,
which he mounts, and is carried, like Bellerophon on Pegasus,
on an aerial journey. Eventually he reaches Olympus, only to
find that the gods have gone elsewhere, and that the heavenly
abode is occupied solely by the demon of War, who is busy pounding
up the Greek States in a huge mortar. However, his benevolent
purpose is not in vain; for learning from Hermes that the goddess
Peace has been cast into a pit, where she is kapt a fast prisoner,
he calls upon the different peoples of Hellas to make a united
effort and rescue her, and with their help drags her out and
brings her back in triumph to earth. The play concludes with
the restoration of the goddess to her ancient honours, the festivities
of the rustic population and the nuptials of Trygæus with
Opora (Harvest), handmaiden of Peace, represented as a pretty
Such references as there are to Cleon in
this play are noteworthy. The great Demagogue was now dead, having
fallen in the same action as the rival Spartan general, the renowned
Brasidas, before Amphipolis, and whatever Aristophanes says here
of his old enemy is conceived in the spirit of 'de mortuis nil
nisi bonum.' In one scene Hermes is descanting on the evils which
had nearly ruined Athens and declares that 'The Tanner' was the
cause of them all. But Trygæus interrupts him with the
- "Hold--say not so, good
- Let the man rest in peace where
now he lies.
- He is no longer of our world,
Here surely we have a trait of magnanimity
on the author's part as admirable in its way as the wit and boldness
of his former attacks had been in theirs.
This article is reprinted
from Aristophanes: The Eleven Comedies. Trans. Anonymous.
London: The Athenian Society, 1922.