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The Frogs | Symbols

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Lion Skin

Dionysus wears a lion skin and carries a club in imitation of the clothes Hercules wore when he visited the Underworld and returned alive. The lion skin provides a symbol of confused identity, as Hercules himself laughs at Dionysus who believes himself to be as menacing as Hercules is.

Later, the lion skin is traded back and forth between Dionysus and his slave, Xanthias, as each attempts to take on or shed the identity of Hercules. In the long run, both Dionysus and Xanthias must shed the lion skin and take back their own identities—Dionysus as a god and Xanthias as a slave.

Scale

A scale is used to "weigh" the quality of the arguments during the debate between Euripides and Aeschylus. Scales were and are used to represent justice, and they were the symbol of the Greek goddess, Themis.

Although the idea of weighing the words of the poets is treated as a joke in The Frogs, there is an underlying seriousness to the symbol. In The Frogs the central conflict is between the work of two poets whose ideas represent traditional values (Aeschylus) and modern values (Euripides). The scales weigh the two men's ideas, and their use suggests that those ideas espoused by Aeschylus are just, right, and good.

When Aeschylus wins the debate, he is allowed to return with his teachings to the land of the living. The hope expressed in the play is that the ideas found to be weightiest and thus most just will be returned to the people of Athens.

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