Essay on The Clouds and the History of Peloponnesian War

1938 Words Feb 3rd, 2013 8 Pages
Breaking down traditions:
The “Clouds” and the “History of Peloponnesian War”
Undeniably, the ancient Greek society places a heavy emphasis on values and traditions. The two texts of the “Clouds” by Aristophanes and “History of the Peloponnesian war” by Thucydides, although contextually divergent, are actually conceptually convergent. Both texts are built around the central theme of the collapse of conventional values. While the breakdown of traditional values in the “History of the Peloponnesian war” is presented in a more metaphorical and symbolical manner, the downfall of conventional values in the “Clouds” is on a more direct basis. Although both texts essentially convey across the same solemn message that the relinquishment of
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Making use of rhetoric devices and compromising the ideals of democracy breach the ideals of traditions in the Greek society. Unlike that in the “Clouds”, Thucydides does not show any sign of flaws of the traditional values.
Although based on different circumstances, the breakdown of traditional values in “The History of the Peloponnesian war” parallels to that in the “Clouds”. The “Clouds” also utilizes extensive use of rhetoric devices. Strepsiades decides to submit to the sophist’s way of education, so that he would be able to defend himself against his creditors. The first sign of erosion of traditional value is exposed when Strepsiades decides to enroll himself in the Thinkery under the guidance of Socrates. The ability to manipulate language and turn everything into relativism erodes the principles of traditional Athenian beliefs. Indisputably, the new philosophy wins. Sophistry is the type of linguistic device that, in the face of the weakness of traditional beliefs, undermines the value of anything. Strepsiades opines, “Holy Earth, what a voice! How divine, how awesome, how fantastic!” (363) In which Socrates responds, “Yes, you know, these are the only real divinities, all the rest is bunkum.” (365) In the new system of beliefs as advocated by the sophists, there is a rejection of the traditional religion and a belief in the new “gods”. The comical way through which ideas are portrayed may be witty, but the core issue lies at the heart of the play's…