Athens street. Street scene outside the home of Bdelycleon (whose name means “Cleon hater”), where two slaves stand guard. They explain that their master is holding his old father, Philocleon (“Cleon lover”), captive inside the house to keep him from joining the other old jurors who follow the philosophy of the ruling tyrant Cleon by daily sentencing anyone brought before them, especially political prisoners. A chorus of old jurors, resembling wasps because of the way they “sting the accused,” come to call for their colleague. The house is covered with a net, and although Philocleon attempts to escape by chewing through the net, he is restrained. To placate his father, Bdelycleon stages a mock trial of a dog. The dog, accused of stealing cheese, is tried in front of the house in much the same manner as all Athenian trials were staged outdoors and open to the public.
House of Bdelycleon
House of Bdelycleon (DEH-lih-klee-on). As a final gesture in changing the attitudes of his father, Bdelycleon takes him inside his house to introduce him to elite society. The audience does not see this indoor scene, but listens instead to the chorus of Wasps, being told about how the old man is insulting everyone inside. Soon Philocleon returns outdoors—to the proper location for action in a Greek play—with a young woman entertainer and challenges his old colleagues to a dance contest as the play ends.