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The Frogs | Quotes

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1.

Forget my courage. / Show me the highway, the shortest one there is, / that takes me directly down to Hades.


Dionysus, Prologos

Dionysus is foolish and cowardly, but he has made up his mind to visit the Underworld to bring back a great poet, Euripides. In this scene he is working to convince Hercules, who has made the journey safely, to provide directions.

2.

Brekekekex koax koax Brekekekex koax koax Children of the marsh and lake / harmonious song now sweetly make.


Chorus, Parodos

The Chorus plays many roles in The Frogs. In this part of the play they are singing frogs in the lake between the land of the living and the Underworld. The song of the frogs includes nonsense language that has been referenced in modern literature as well as exposition about the worshippers of Dionysus.

3.

O you abominable, you shameless reckless wretch— / ... damned smiling villain— / the man who made off with Cerberus my dog!


Aeacus, Episode 1

Aeacus, in this scene, believes that Dionysus—dressed in lion skin—is actually Hercules. In the myth of the 12 Labors of Hercules, Hercules traveled to the Underworld and (with Pluto's permission) stunned and carried off Cerberus, the three-headed dog who had guarded Hades.

4.

It's just and proper in this city / our sacred chorus give advice and teach.


Chorus Leader, Parabasis

The parabasis is a traditional part of Old Comedy. In this portion of the play, the Chorus gives advice and communicates the central message of the play.

5.

But now, / you silly fools, it's time to change your ways. / Use worthy people once again.


Chorus, Parabasis

In its message to the audience, the Chorus communicates Aristophanes's most important message: it is time to turn back to the old ways and reinstate leaders of real worth.

6.

My poetry did not die with me, / but his did once he died.


Aeschylus, Agon

In this prelude to the contest between Aeschylus and Euripides, Aeschylus tells the gathered crowd that while his own work lives on, Euripides's does not. This statement about the value of Euripides's art is supported in the outcome of the play.

7.

When I ... took this art of plays from you, / crammed with bombast to the gills. / ... I ... reduced its weight.


Euripides, Agon

In his argument in support of his own work, Euripides claims that he slimmed down the overblown drama of Aeschylus. While this argument is accurate to a degree, Dionysus finally decides that Aeschylus is the better poet and playwright.

8.

I taught them to think, / ... to understand, to love new twists / and double dealing, to suspect the worst.


Euripides, Agon

Here Euripides undermines his own worth by explaining that his plays taught Athenians to love deceit and suspect their fellow men. Aristophanes's argument, in The Frogs, is that tragic plays and poetry should enlighten and uplift the audience.

9.

They've been useful from the start, / the noble race of poets. There's Orpheus— / he taught us ... not to kill.


Aeschylus, Agon

Aeschylus argues that the poet's job is to bring out the best in people. As an example he mentions the mythical Orpheus, the god of music and lyrical poetry, who taught the people rituals and promoted peaceful interaction. While Aeschylus did promote war, he describes himself as teaching men to be brave and valorous.

10.

Noble thoughts and fine ideas perforce / produce a language of commensurate size.


Aeschylus, Agon

In this portion of his argument, Aeschylus argues that fine speech and lofty words are appropriate for characters who are gods or whose ideas are lofty. This argument directly opposes Euripides's, who says that characters should speak, dress, and act as real people do.

11.

Because of him our city here / is crammed with ... apes, / who always cheat our people.


Aeschylus, Agon

Aeschylus argues that Euripides's plays, in which women have sex with their own brothers and give birth in sacred temples, have led to the downfall of Athens. The general argument is that, by showing the worst in people, Euripides has actually taught the people to cheat and steal.

12.

Whichever one of you will give our state / the best advice, well, that's the man I'll take.


Dionysus, Agon

Dionysus has refused to judge between the two poets on the basis of their work, as he admires both. He therefore asks each to provide advice for Athens, which is on the brink of being defeated by the Spartans after a long and demoralizing war.

13.

If we reversed our course, we might be saved.


Euripides, Agon

Euripides advises the people of Athens to reverse their course. This advice, while it seems solid, is not accepted.

14.

Blest is the man with keen intelligence— / ... Once he's shown his own good sense / he goes back home again.


Chorus, Exodos

The Chorus here agrees with Dionysus that Aeschylus is the best man to return to Athens and save the people with his intelligence, wit, and good advice.

15.

So now farewell, Aeschylus—go, / save our city with your noble thoughts, / and educate our fools.


Pluto, Exodos

Pluto sends Aeschylus off with his good wishes to save the people of Athens and educate the foolish leaders of the city. In a more extended version of this quote, he also tasks Aeschylus with the job of handing the worst rulers various means of committing suicide (knife, rope, hemlock) so they can quickly find their way to Hades.

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