Different ways of returning to the beginning of the west
If you could find me a book on Aristophanes better than Strauss’s I’d be forever in your debt. I highly doubt you’re going to be able to do that.
This is all about the problem of progress. You don’t have to believe in progressivism to believe in progress. The rigid rules of the Unjust City are what prevents progress. People adapt to them with ketman. Socrates represents not using enough ketman.
What is significant about Aristophanes (among other things)
Everyone should care about this because everyone is a philosopher to some degree. Even normie progs are. (Think though of birds vs. air). Every person, as a person, is beholden to the rigid rules of the Unjust City in one way or another. So how does it respond to you bending them or breaking them? Probably not altogether kindly.
Usually when I talk symbolically about “clouds” I’m throwing Aristophanes out of an airplane without a parachute. Not sure if you caught that allusion. Nonetheless, like I’ve said, he’s the primal clown in the good sense of the term also, and we can learn from him in that sense. I just happen to find Socrates funnier.
Let’s look at old England for a second – remember Fielding’s plays caused the Stage Licensing Act to be implemented
Do you ever feel like a Foote, dear reader?
Satire is inherently subversive. Socrates represents an excess of subversiveness. Aristophanes demanded–humorously–that Socrates respect and fear the gods. This is the beginning of laughter. (At least the recorded beginning). Someone who doesn’t respect and fear the gods, now that’s something to joke about.
Most people relate more to Aristophanes than Socrates, and are birds rather than air. They might feel one with the air, they just wouldn’t betray their fellow birds and chirp to them about that. That might cause a collective identity crisis. Thus, if you chirp about the air you are inviting “Aristophaneses” to ridicule you, and no one wants that. Birds want to fly, not hear chirps about what they’re flying in.
A quick rundown on how Aristophanes is similar to Socrates
Trigaius, the hero of Peace, is not afraid of the punishment of Zeus; Mnesilochus, Euripides’ father-in-law in the Thesmophoriazusai, knows that only human authorities can punish him; Blepyrus, hero of Pluto, or Wealth, does not hesitate to challenge the father of the gods in order to re-store Pluto’s sight; Pisthetaerus, the superhuman founder of the Birds, dethrones Zeus and obtains his absolute power over gods and men
The difference is that Aristophanes still respects the gods by using them as characters at all. He respects the convention of the gods. Socrates dispenses with convention altogether.
The essence of old Greek religion was to partake in the nature of the gods, to watch human beings from Olympus while remaining a human being. Socrates partook of their nature too much, he was more Zeus than Zeus himself. Athens had the choice to adapt to this new version of divinity and they chose to kill it instead, preferring the old, all-too-human gods. The orc religion.
As humor is illegal in our day, BOTH Aristophanes’ and Socrates’ style of subversive refinement are blocked off from everyone
both Socrates and Aristophanes belong to the same species of man, although to two different subspecies
One often hears the Greeks were freer. This is one of the ways they were. Even Aristophanes gets the hemlock now. This difference is rooted in the fact that the Greeks had a different religion. The gods of Olympus were human, not absolutely beyond reproach. Our overlords today are flawless, aren’t they?
Anne Frank was forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs! Wait wait, I’m getting my myths mixed up.
Something to keep in mind if you want to learn some new myths
Pisthetaerus kicks Meton out of the city of the birds. Meton is the character most similar to Socrates.
In our time of “witch” hunts you’d be better off with the moderation of Aristophanes. Then, only about a “quarter Aristophanes” is allowed today. Just to put the echelons in clear order, even though I know the birds hate to see it. “I don’t see anything, I’m not a bird.”