Pisthetærus (pihs-theh-TI-ruhs), an old man of Athens who has left his native city in disapproval because of the corruption, especially the litigiousness, of his countrymen. High-spirited, comically fantastic, and sometimes even vulgar, he nevertheless has an underlying vein of hardheaded good sense that makes him despise hypocrites and frauds. He uses his oratorical skill to convince the birds that they are the superiors of the gods, and he proposes the creation of Nephelo-Coccygia, or “Cloud Cuckoo Land,” the strategic location of which will give the birds power over both gods and men. For his pains, he is awarded wings and a position of respect in the land of the birds. He adopts a very casual attitude toward the gods who come to negotiate a peace, and through shrewd dealing he wins not only the scepter of Zeus for the birds but also the hand of Basileia, or “Sovereignty,” and celestial bounty for himself.
Euelpides (ew-EHL-pih-deez), another old Athenian, Pisthetærus’ companion and foil. Not as sharply individualized, he is, like Pisthetærus, disgusted with Athenian life and ready to cooperate in his friend’s schemes. He too has a broadly comic wit and a keen eye for a pretty courtesan.
Epops (EH-pops), the hoopoe. Now King of the Birds, he was once...
(The entire section is 595 words.)