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August 2018

Montaigne: Essays

Montaigne-DumonstierThe Essays (French: Essais) by Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) inaugurated a literary form on their first publication in 1580. His  Essais or 'attempts' at various subjects were part of a larger project of-self reflection. His focus on the individual personality, in contrast to the ancient writers on whom he dew copiously, had a profound influence on later writers.

He knew Greek authors mainly though Latin and French, but his broad classical learning informed an eclectic philosophical world view which drew on Cicero, stoicism and skepticism. The latter was influence was strengthened by Montaigne's experiences as a nobleman during the French Wars of Religion. His belief in tolerance forms an important part of his legacy.

Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: Essays, Bks 1-11, translated by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format. Modern English translation with some editorial alterations.
Gutenberg: Essays of Michel de Montaigne — Complete, translated by Charles Cotton. Multiple formats. 
Internet Archive: The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, Vol I | Vol II. Translated by Charles Cotton and revised by William Carew Hazlitt. Multiple formats.
The Montaigne Project: Les Essais de Montaigne. Full Searchable HTML text in French.
Online Library of Liberty: Essays of Montaigne in 10 Volumes, translated by Charles Cotton. Multiple formats.
University of Adelaide: The Essays of Montaigne, translated by Charles Cotton. Multiple formats.
University of Oregon: Montaigne's Essays, translated by John Florio, 1603. PDF format.
Wikisource: Multiple French editions | English translation by John Florio, 1603 | English translation by Charles Cotton 1686, revised by William Carew Hazlitt in 1877.

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Aristophanes: Wealth

658px-Dionysos_Ploutos_BM_F68Wealth or Plutus (Greek: Πλοῦτος) is Aristophanes' last extant comedy, produced in 388 BC.

The play centres on Chremylus, an exasperated Athenian who asks the Delphic oracle if he should bring his son up to be good or bad in order to prosper in life. The oracle leads him to a blind man who turns out to be the god of wealth, Plutus. Chremylus arranges for his sight to be restored at the temple of Asclepius. As a result, Plutus is able to reward the good and impoverish the bad. The newly wealthy Chremylus then receives a stream of visitors to his home, whose various situations illustrate the way Athenian society has been turned up side down as a result.

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Eleven Comedies, Volume 2 - The Wasps - The Birds - The Frogs - The Thesmophoriazusae - The Ecclesiazusae -- Plutus. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 179 - Aristophanes III - Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. 

Poetry in Translation: Wealth, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Plutus. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

History of Ancient Greece: o54- Old Comedy and Aristophanes. Podcast by Ryan Stitt.

Wikipedia: Plutus (play).

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Aristophanes: Ecclesiazusae

Ecclesiazusae (Greek: Ἐκκλησιάζουσαι} or Assemblywomen is a comedy by Aristophanes, probably first produced at Athens in 392 BC. Like the earlier Lysistrata, the play imagines women taking over the city. On this occasion, inspired by their ringleader Praxagora, they disguise themselves as men to pack the assembly, and vote to hand control over to themselves. they also enact a series of communistic measures, something which has been seen, probably anachronistically, as a satire on Plato's political program. 

Ecclesiazusae at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Eleven Comedies, Volume 2 - The Wasps - The Birds - The Frogs - The Thesmophoriazusae - The Ecclesiazusae -- Plutus. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 179 - Aristophanes III - Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. 

Poetry in Translation: Women in Parliament, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Ecclesiazusae. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

Continue reading "Aristophanes: Ecclesiazusae" »


Aristophanes: Thesmophoriazusae

ThesmophoriasuzaeKraterThesmophoriazusae (Greek: Θεσμοφοριάζουσαι) or Women at the Thesmophoria is a comedy by Aristophanes, first produced at Athens in 411 BC, probably at the Dionysia. As with Lysistrata, thought to have been produced at the Lenaea in the same year, gender forms a significant theme of the work, which is set during the Thesmophoria, a festival attended solely by women.

The tragic poet Euripides features as a central character. who learns that the festival-goers intend to kill him because of the negative portrayal of women in his work. After failing to persuade his fellow tragedian Agathon to infiltrate the festival on his behalf, Euripides sends an elderly relative instead. After the infiltrator is discovered, attempts to rescue him devolve into a series of parodies of Euripides' plays.

Thesmophoriazusae at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Picture by Wikimedia Commons user Daderot

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Eleven Comedies, Volume 2 - The Wasps - The Birds - The Frogs - The Thesmophoriazusae - The Ecclesiazusae -- Plutus. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 179 - Aristophanes III - Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. 

Internet Classics Archive: Thesmophoriazusae. English text in HTML and TXT format.

Poetry in Translation: Women at the Festival, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Thesmophoriazusae. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

History of Ancient Greece: o54- Old Comedy and Aristophanes. Podcast by Ryan Stitt.

Librivox: Chorus of Women from Thesmophoriazusae. Public domain audiobook.

Stanford News: Gender-swapped play takes on the ‘men’s rights’ movement, by Hannah Leblanc, 11 May 2017.

Wikipedia: Thesmophoriazousai

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Aristophanes: Lysistrata, Ecclesiazusae - two other plays in which women play a prominent role. The Frogs - another play targeting the tragic poets.

Euripides: Medea - one of the plays which contributed to the author's reputation for an equivocal attitued towards women.

Plato: Symposium - also employs the poet Agathon as a character.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.