What are the important themes of Aristophanes's The Frogs?
One of Aristophanes’s themes in was the flawed self-importance of Greek intellectuals. Because he was a comic writer, he often takes aim at those who write tragedies. In The Frogs, he satirizes the genre of tragedy by juxtaposing plays by the two great tragedians, Euripides and Aeschylus. In doing so, he reminds the audience that comedy can also have the instructive moral function that Aristotle and Plato had claimed was reserved for tragedy. He also comes up on the side of the older, established style of play, represented by Aeschylus.
Another theme is civic responsibility. Aristophanes cautions the Athenian people, or polis, about the dangers of avoiding their duty. Because Athens was embroiled for years in the Peloponnesian Wars, the playwright was among the senior members who were concerned about Athens’s losing. He points fingers at the young who have grown bored of war and the profiteers who make money off it. Both in the behaviors of mortals and gods in Hades and in the ridiculous croaking of the frog chorus, he makes points about proper conduct.
One of the important themes in Aristophanes' Frogs is the power of literature in society. In this play, the god Dionysus travels to the underworld to bring back Euripides because Athens' current crop of tragedians is not acceptable to him. After Dionysus arrives in the underworld, he learns of a dispute between Aeschylus and Euripides over who is the best tragedian. Subsequently, Dionysus presides over a contest between the two tragedians, a contest which Aeschylus wins because he provides the best advice on how to deal with the Athenian political situation in the waning years of the fifth century BCE. As Dionysus and Aeschylus leave the underworld, Pluto praises Aeschylus for his ability to give good advice to the Athenians:
Farewell then Aeschylus, great and wise,
Go, save our state by the maxims rare
Of thy noble thought; and the fools chastise,
For many a fool dwells there. (Anonymous translator)