The Clouds by Aristophanes
Updated: Jul 23, 2019
(1) The new school sophists are characterized as those willing and able to equip students with the ability to win arguments wrongly rather than rightly on the side of justice (if there is such a thing). How are we careful to resist the temptation to make persuasive and eloquent rhetoric a device for unjustly ridding ourselves of guilt and responsibility?
(2) In lines 900-910 we read a version of the contemporary argument that God cannot be just because we witness the absences of his justice in the presence of real evil throughout history. How much weight does this argument carry for us and for our students today? What is our response to this position?
(3) In lines 1420-1430, Pheidippides make the argument that all laws are invented by mere men through clever argumentation thereby affording him the right to make any new law of his own. That is, if there is no Zeus, then there can be no sources of law beyond clever argumentation. This an argument worthy of our own students' consideration yet it is embedded in a play littered with filth and obscenity. Can we, in good conscience, ask our own students to read content such as this? Are there not other, better ways for our students to encounter these ideas?