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Aside from all the prodigious number of Greek tragedies in history, stands a collection of Greek comedies which serve as humorous relief from the powerful overtone of the tragedy. These comedies were meant to ease the severity and seriousness sometimes associated with the Greek society. The ideas portrayed in the comedies, compared to the tragedies, were ridiculously far-fetched; however, although abnormal, these views are certainly worthy of attention. Throughout his comedy, The Clouds, Aristophanes, along with his frequent use of toilet humor, ridicules aspects of Greek culture when he destroys tradition by denouncing the importance of the gods' influence on the actions of mortals, and he unknowingly parallels Greek society with today's. Aristophanes also defiantly misrepresents an icon like Socrates as comical, atheistic, and consumed by ideas of self interest, which is contradictory to the Socrates seen in Plato's Apology or Phaedo.
Aristophanes denounces the importance of the gods' influence on the actions of mortals. In the usual tragedy, the gods play an extremely important role towards the actions of the mortal characters. Through fear of the alternative and examples of the past, Athenians carried out their everyday lives under the guidance of the gods' wishes. Aristophanes challenges the audience, and Greek culture as a whole, by offering a different view on the answers and directions of life, than that of the gods. He denounces the parables and explanations to answers in life that involve the gods. Instead he explains that such things as the aerial whirlwind, and especially the clouds, are the reasoning behind all of natures actions. On the surface these comments were seen as a mockery and very humorous. Underlying this humor is a scary truth, most likely ignored by the
congregations witnessing this play. How many times has a character in a tragedy been so willing to contradict the gods? Dominant characters like Creon and Prometheus have blatantly disobeyed the gods. The alternative explanations serve a hidden truth in the hearts of many of the Athenian people. This truth is always again repressed by the end of each play, tragedy or comedy; because their was too great of a fear to upset the higher beings.
Aristophanes, although he wrote in 420 BC, parallels much of Greek society with that of today's. He disrupts the audiences' comfort through covertly making accusations towards the credibility of Athenians as whole-hearted people. He places them on a plane with people of today's society who seek skeptical methods of living. Universal codes, among advanced civilizations, set standards to be strictly adhered to, however Aristophanes totally contradicted these guidelines in The Clouds. Strepsiades, an example of an every day Athenian citizen, seems to seek the untouchable wisdom of the great Thinker, Socrates. On the outside, this plan is worthy of admiration and nobility. As his motive is more closely studied, it unfolds that he is solely interested in Socrates' studies in order to escape his debts and obligations by sharpening his tongue. Although the beginning of the play is comical because it offers ridiculous thoughts on the answers to life's questions, there is soon a sort of ironic overtone as the comedy becomes a concealed generalization of the audience it was written to amuse. A commentary on the play written by Ian Johnston states, "increasingly numbers of the audience who were laughing so comfortably at Socrates [his bizarre answers] only a few minutes before are now being forced to laugh at themselves or their neighbors." The depiction brought about by Aristophanes, towards general Athenians is that they are self centered, consumed by greed, and oblivious to the appropriate standards by which to lead one's life. This allegation far surpasses the goals of a comedy, to ease the severity and seriousness sometimes associated with the Greek society, and to serve as humorous relief from the tragedies; however, the criticism only deepens the severity and stunts the humor, although the audience is probably still laughing anyway. Through this method, Aristophanes provokes laughter as a way to cover up an unpleasant truth which is mutually kept silent by all of society.
Aristophanes also sets Athenians equal to people today in their flaws in family proceedings. A major difference between Greek comedies and tragedies can be seen ... more
Find essay on Crazy Horse
Hostile Takeover of the New World
The Effects of the United States Government on the Indians
"The responsibility of any nation, and the particular
responsibility of elected officials of any nation, is not to justify
what has passed for legality but to anticipate the conditions
and problems of tomorrow and attempt to deal with them. The
current confusion and violence in Indian Country are a result
of the failure to do so by generations of elected officials in this
country. To continue to perpetuate myths about American
Indians which have no basis in fact or in law is merely
avoiding the larger issues confronting the nations of the
world," said author Vine Deloria, Jr. (Deloria, Prologue) The
United States government failed miserably in its attempt to
deal with the Indians. By pushing them further and further
West, they pushed the Indians to hate and distrust the white
man to the point of war. These wars resulted in hundreds of
white deaths. However, the wars resulted in the destruction of
several entire Indian tribes and the near extinction of Indian
spirit throughout America. The tale is a sad one, one that
Americans should not be proud of. After every broken treaty,
the Americans blamed the Indians for existing, despite the
want of the Indians to simply live on their lands peacefully.
The "Trail of Tears" was a great tragedy and many thought it
would be the last now that all of the Indians were out of the
eastern United States. But the U.S. government became land
hungry and due to their idealism of "Manifest Destiny," the
"Trail of Tears" was only a starting point on the path to the
destruction of the Indians of the West. By 1850 gold had been
discovered in California, and white settlers were heading
West to strike it rich and lay claim to the entire continent.
(Utley and Washburn, page 163) New violence erupted as the
white man moved into Indian hunting grounds. Ten percent of
the Diggers in California met death violently. In 1846,
California was home to 100,000 Indians. By 1851, the
population had dropped to 30,000. (Utley and Washburn,
164)"That a war of extermination will continue to be waged
until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected," said
California governor in 1851. (Utley and Washburn, 179)
Under the ideals of Tom Fitzpatrick, United States Indian
Agent, the U.S. government decided it didn't only want to
separate the whites and the Indians, but also intended to
restrict them to specified areas known as reservations.
Nineteenth century removal and reservation policies reduced
Indian lands to mere islands in the stream of American
settlement. Reservations themselves were largely unwanted
or remote environments of little value. (Lewis, 1) The policy
makers did not only want to control the Indians, but civilize
them as well. The chiefs are thought to have agreed to these
treaties not because they understood the provisions, but
because a U.S. treaty tactic was to bribe them with a stock of
presents waiting to be distributed after the signing. (Deloria,
177) War was also threatened if the Indians did not sign. Most
of the time, the Indians ignored the treaties, not truly
understanding the motives of the whites to tell them what they
could and could not do. Moreover, just as the Indian chiefs
could not make their people obey these treaties, the U.S.
government could not make their own countrymen respect the
treaties. "It must certainly appear evident that something must
be done to keep those Indians quiet and nothing short of an
efficient military force stationed in their country will do this,"
warned Fitzpatrick. (Utley and Washburn, 195) The U.S.
government began forcing the Indians onto reservations.
Sometimes they would simply kill them with no warning such
as the killing of 224 Shoshones in the Battle of Bear River in
Montana, 1862. (Utley and Washburn, 201) The Apaches and
the Navajos experienced a similar fate. With nothing left, and
all their warriors dead, the reluctantly gave into the U.S.
government. One by one, the tribes were tricked into trusting
the white man. This trust almost always resulted in death for
the Indians. However, under the direction of President Grant,
Ely Parker or ... more
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A: Hostile Takeover of the New World
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