HISTORY TEST - ARISTOPHANES 366


1. What date was the battle of Marathon? Who fought there? What is its significance in Aristophanes? Name one general.

2. What date was the battle of Salamis? Who was the most important commanding general? Who fought there?

3. Who was Themistocles? Give two significant things he was responsible for. What use does Aristophanes make of them? Give specific references.

4. What was the Delian League? Why was it important to Athens?

5. Who fought the Peloponnesian War? When? Name the leader associated with starting it. What was his policy? What use does Aristophanes make in his plays of this policy? Give specific examples.

6. Who was Cleon? Give two military operations he was associated with and dates. What use does Aristophanes make of them? Give specific references.

7. Who was Demosthenes? Where does he appear in Aristophanes? What is his character?

8. Who is Nicias? Where does he appear in Aristophanes? What is his character?

9. What is the ecclesia? Who attends? What is it used for? Where does it feature in Aristophanes? Give specific examples.

10. What is the Council? What is its function? What use does Aristophanes make of it?

11. Briefly outline the way the law courts functioned.

12. Give three examples of names in Aristophanes that have a "meaning."

13. What and when was the Peace of Nicias?

14. What would you say the "Good Old Days" meant to Aristophanes? Support your answers.

15. When was the Oligarchic Revolution? What was it?

16. When was the battle of Arginusae? Give three significant facts about it. What use does Aristophanes make of it?

17. Who was Alcibiades? Give two things he was associated with. What is his importance in Aristophanes?

18. Give three ways in which Assemblywomen differs from earlier play in Aristophanes.


Aristophanes History Test                                                               Answers

1. 514 Hipparchus, brother of Athenian tyrant Hippias, was assassinated by Harmodius and Aristogeiton. (See Statue.) 510 Hippias deposed by Spartans and Alcmaeonids. Reforms of Gleisthenes, an Alcmaeonid, which lay the framework of democracy. Hippias went to live in Persia. 490/89 Persians invade Greece and in a limited campaign attempt to restore Hippias as tyrant of Athens.

Athenians, helped by people of Plataea (cf Frogs p.182) defeated the Persians at Marathon. n.b. The Spartans did not respond to the Athenian request for help because of a religious festival.]

Marathon 490/89. Athenians and Plataeans against Persians. Miltiades is the general credited with the winning strategy. Because the Athenians were greatly out -numbered by the Persians and were defending Athens against the enemy and the re-imposition of a tyrant, Aristophanes uses the "men who fought at Marathon" as examples of citizens who were brave, selflessly loyal and fighting for the good of their country with no hope of reward -unlike Cleon etc.

2. 479 - The Persians invaded again but this time with a land army and a navy. It was a massive campaign and the Greeks were again out-numbered.

Against the Persians were the Athenians, Spartans, people of Aegina, Gorinth, Megara.

Themistocles is generally credited with the victory since he tricked the Persians into fighting in the narrow waters at Salamis where their ships were easily out-manoeuvred by Athenian triremes.

3. Themistocles - brilliant and innovative leader of Athenians. (i) Persuaded the Athenians to fortify the harbour of Piraeus because "their future lay with the sea". (ii) Silver mines at Laurium produced an unexpected surplus and it was proposed that it should be

shared out at 10 drachmas a man but Themistocles persuaded the assembly to vote to use the money to build 100 new triremes.

(iii) When the Persians were invading in 480/479 and the Athenians consulted the Delphic Oracle he persuaded the people that the meaning of "trust the wooden walls" was to abandon Athens and fight from the ships (wooden walls) not take refuge behind 'the wooden walls of Acropolis. This proved to be the winning strategy.

472: Themistocles, who made many enemies both in Athens and Sparta because of his policies was ostracised. He was later accused of treason and fled to Persia.

Knights p.66 Cleon claims to be greater benefactor than Themistocles.

Knights p.69 -The people very pleased with SS offer/gift of a tunic compares it to Peiraeus. P87 -reference to warships.

4. Delian League - a modern term for an organisation referred to in the 5th century as 'The Athenians and their allies'. It grew out of the League of Greek states which gathered in 480/79 to defeat Persia. After Salamis, these were joined by the Ionians.

The official aim was to compensate themselves for their losses by ravaging the territory of the King of Persia'. Their long term objective was to maintain the freedom of the Greeks and to form an alliance to resist further attacks from Persia.

The allies had to provide money and resources to do this. Some states provided money and some provided ships -Tribute.

But n.b. (1) Athens was the permanent leader. (2) Athenian officials assessed and collected the tribute. (3) Athens provided the largest number of ships and men.

This developed into an Empire even if Athens had not intended to do so at the outset. Athens would not allow the "allies" to leave the alliance. This put her on a collision course sometimes with her own allies but eventually with the Peloponnesian League -Corinth and Megara who were afraid of Athens' growing power.

5. Athens against Sparta and the states of the Peloponnesian League -mainly Sparta, Corinth and Megara but Boeotia also became involved. Later the allies also revolted and joined Sparta against Athens. 431-404

Pericles promoted the Athenian Empire and the Athenian Democracy. When he was general - and he was elected 15 times in succession from 445 onwards -

(i)                  The Long Walls were built down to the Peiraeus and later a long wall to harbour at Phalerum.

(ii)                Payment for jurors was introduced.

(iii)               State pay for other officials.

(iv) Citizenship was restricted so that a smaller number could enjoy the new privileges and profits.

Both father and mother now had to be Athenian citizens. (See constant references in A. to doubtful citizenship).

Policy during wa - Never to meet the Spartans on land but to stay within the walls.

Not to revoke the decrees against Megara (see notes) of Knights p. 66 "you wot's seen cow they've lived these last seven years in bubs and turrets etc".

Peace -especially with its reference to life in the country e.g. p 121

p 132 free markets and food

p 138 Peace in the country etc.

6. Cleon -Popular politician elected general - Strategos 425. Son of a rich tanner.

(i)                  Pylos campaign 425

(ii)                Battle for Amphipolis in Thrace 422- Cleon and Brasidas, the Spartan general killed. Learn background to Pylos campaign -see notes and background notes to Peace.
Pylos features extensively in Knights where Paph/Cleon is accused of taking the credit for himself. Constant references to the privileges he was awarded as a result of the success.

(iii) Aristophanes sees Cleon as the main obstacle to peace with Sparta. Peace is therefore possible now he is dead.

7. Demosthenes -one of the commanders of Athenian fleet was accompanying it when it was on its way on a diplomatic mission to Sicily. When they were forced to take shelter from a storm at Pylos in Spartan territory he took the opportunity to fortify Pylos -Enterprising, energetic. He appears in Knights as a drunkard but he has the ideas and also guides SS. Look out for relationship between him and Knights and SS.

8. Nicias -Athenian general known for his piety. He is also reputed to be very cautious and timid. See Aristophanes' Knights. He was general at the time Demosthenes had fortified Pylos and was greatly in favour of Peace with Sparta. Cleon had claimed in the assembly that if the generals "were real men" they would easily take a force and capture the Spartans on Sphacteria. He would do it himself if he were in command. Nicias called his bluff and offered him the command. Cleon returned victorious!

9. Male Athenian citizens, over 18, attended the assembly, the Sovereign body of the Athenians. They all had the right to propose legislation, to debate and vote. Four meetings each prytany i.e. 10th of a year = 40 per year. It met on the Pnyx at dawn. A report was read from Council of 500 after which generals could speak followed by other magistrates and then people according to age. Any citizen could amend or initiate legislation but new proposals had to be submitted to the Council.

See Knights. The people calls for a meeting on the Pnyx p. 64 Assembly -Women -Throughout!

10. Council prepared the motions which were placed on the agenda for the assembly (see notes). Aristophanes uses it in Knights to show that even the Council made irrational decisions p. 60 and 61.

11. All citizens over 30 could enrol; 6000- 600 from each tribe - chosen by lot at beginning of year. Then divided into ten sections and given a ticket indicating to which section he belonged. On day of trial those who wished to participate chosen at random from an allotment devise called a kleroterion. Cleon raised payment from 2 to 3 obols. See Wasps for details of courts.

12. Anticleon, Procleon, Thepeople, Trygaeus, Praxagora.

13. 421 Peace Treaty to last 50 years negotiated by Nicias for Athenians after battle of Amphipolis.

14. This refers to the early days of the democracy before the people were influenced by demagogues like Cleon. Aristophanes considered it to have been a time when citizens did things for the good of the community. See references to time of Marathon in Knights esp. parabasis p. 58 Rejuvenation of The People p 85 and ff.

15. 415-413 - Disaster of the Sicilian expedition. 40, 000 Athenians forced to retreat; thousands were killed including Nicias and Demosthenes. Sparta had a fortified base at Decelea that controlled land routes to Boeotia and Euboea. This prevented Athenian land being farmed, and food supplies being brought by this safer route 20,000 slaves deserted to the Spartans. The extreme oligarchs wanted to overthrow the democracy and at this time they were supported by moderates, led by Theramenes who were particularly feeling the disastrous effects of the war and feared the consequences of a Spartan/Persian alliance. They replaced the Council with a Council of 400 and an assembly of 5000 propertied citizens was to be established. However, the extreme oligarchs had no intention of establishing the Assembly of 5000. Theramenes led an uprising against the 400 and after only a few months a moderate democracy was restored.

16. Battle of Arginusae 406

(i) Citizenship offered to slaves and metics who rowed in the fleet.

(ii) Athenians defeated the Spartans but because their commanders did not pick up the Atheniandead after a storm they put to death six of their eight generals. The other two went into voluntary exile.

(iii) The Spartans offered peace but the Athenians refused.

See Frogs -where much of the humour involves the slave Xanthias changing places with his master and see especially Frogs Parabasis.

17. Alcibiades --ward of Pericles, young, handsome aristocrat; elected general and persuaded the Athenians to embark on Sicilian Expedition.

(i) Sicilian Expedition -Profaning the Mysteries.

(ii) He had fled first to Sparta, then to Persia after his Sicilian "adventure" but by 411 was back on the Athenian side and was winning back Athenian control of the Hellespont. He was recalled to Athens in 408 but banished again in 407. Aristophanes suggests that even though Alcibiades is "high risk" it would be worth recalling him because of Athens' desperate situation. See Frogs - Parabasis and contest between Aeschylus and Euripides.

18. i) Use of Chorus - absence of any real chorus. ii) No parabasis iii) Singing match p.253
Love duet p. 255

R. Battersby