The Clouds

The clouds ( αἱ νεφέλαι hai nephélai ) is a classic Greek comedy by playwright Aristophanes, which was 423 BC premiered in Athens. The comedy contains some charges against Socrates, put forward 20 years later as a heavy charges in the case against him. The piece is one of the most important non- Platonic sources on the life of Socrates.


The big farmer Strepsiades is in trouble. The date by which he must repay his debts coming closer. Blame for the financial plight is his son Pheidippides, a horse lover who leads a lavish life.

At night, when the farmer is around circulated sleepless, it is a brilliant idea: He wants to send his Son into the thinkers workshop of Socrates, so that he may learn to speak there sent to let emerge the farmers from all processes victorious. But Pheidippides refuses. So the aged farmer must himself take action and is then Socrates ' students. Socrates calls the clouds that occur as a heavenly choir to inaugurate the new students.

However, it soon turns out that Strepsiades is good for nothing; angry Socrates sends him away. The clouds advise him to give his son in Socrates ' care. This time he succeeds, this to persuade.

As Pheidippides has finished his teaching, the payday has come. Wüst he sells the creditors, and Strepsiades looking forward triumphantly to the forthcoming processes. But what has been learned has its downsides, like the farmer must determine when his son begins to beat him. Pheidippides is justified as follows: The father had beaten his son, to rebuke him. Now he reprove only his father, an old man can be a " double a child's head ." The blows had received as a child of the son, he would not have to repay. It is not mandatory that you should not beat up senior citizens by nature, as in the animal kingdom, the younger ones would be the older ones often even kill. And so he finally comes to the conclusion that he must consequently continue beating not only his father but also his mother regularly.

Strepsiades now recognizes but the abjection of Socrates and his ' thinker Bude ' and lights it.

Impact and significance

You can see the "clouds" as a critique of Athenian society, personified by Strepsiades understand. Most of all, Aristophanes developed his character Socrates a completely different from the Platonic Socrates figure. Socrates is represented as extreme sophist. The allegations, which should be 399 expressed in Socrates trial against him ( asebeia, corruption of youth ) are already in this piece of language. " The Cloud " can, therefore, be read as an indictment against Socrates. It is worth noting in particular that the contemporary Aristophanes Socrates appeared as a sophist, during which students Plato and Xenophon, this should vehemently deny later.

The Socrates of Aristophanes in this play is almost an incarnation of all the stereotypes that circulated about the sophists. However, Plato and Xenophon agree that Socrates, in contrast to the ( other? ) Sophists ( and subject to other than by Aristophanes ) no money of his students took. Moreover, it seems Socrates to have indeed served a similar reasoning methods such as the Sophists, but he was in contrast to these apparently convinced of the existence of higher values ​​and truths. This distortion is perhaps also the reason why the piece only got a third prize when it was first performed 423. Nevertheless, the comedy offers an interesting corrective to the idealized image of Socrates, who later found himself in the writings of his students.