Peace Summary (Aristophanes)



(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Being tired of the wars and hungry, Trygaeus, like most Athenian citizens, calls upon the gods for aid. Unlike the others, however, Trygaeus searches for a way to gain entrance to the heavens so that he might make a personal plea to Zeus and thus save himself, his family, and his country. He tried climbing ladders but succeeded only in falling and breaking his head. He decided to ride to heaven on the back of a dung beetle, in the manner of Bellerophon on Pegasus.

This attempt to make his way to heaven succeeds, but when Trygaeus arrives at the house of Zeus he finds that the gods moved to that point farthest away from Greece so that they need see no more of the fighting among those peoples and hear no more prayers from them. Affording the Greeks an opportunity for peace, which they ignore, the gods now abandon them and give the god War, aided by his slave Tumult, full power to do with them as he pleases.

Trygaeus soon finds out that War already begins to carry out his plans. He casts Peace into a deep pit and is now preparing to pound up all the cities of Greece in a mortar. Trygaeus watches him as he throws in leeks representing the Laconians, garlic for the Megarians, cheese for the Sicilians, and honey for the Athenians. Fortunately, this deed of destruction is momentarily postponed because War cannot find a pestle. After several unsuccessful attempts on the part of Tumult to find one for him, War himself has to leave the mortar and go make one.

His departure gives Trygaeus the chance he needs to save Peace, and immediately he calls on all the states of Greece to come to his aid. All come, but with noise enough to bring Zeus himself back from his retreat. Hermes, who was left in the house of Zeus, is aroused and angered by the noise and can be cajoled into allowing them to go on with their work only after many promises of future glorification....

(The entire section is 770 words.)