Frog Land

a plot summary of the story now running at ZeekLand might somehow be possible

Our tragedy so far: The tragic playwrights Euripides, Aeschylus, and others, have died and gone to Hades. All to further sadden the dreary backdrop of the Peloponnesian War.

Dionysus, the god of wine and theater (in that order), has traveled to Hades to find his favorite tragic playwright, the shlock-artist Euripides.

When he gets there, a committee of ignorant louts (now posing as our chorus) are championing the former holder of the title "Greatest Dead Tragic Playwright", Aeschylus.

They commanded Euripides, the presumptive challenger, to debate Aeschylus. Dionysus referees the contest, planning to take Euripides back to Athens. Because it's currently mired in a 20-year stalemate of a war, and does not need any more tragedy.

But Aeschylus' skill has unnerved Euripides, who now begins to suspect he might loose the contest and gain no reprieve from Hades.

As they debate, they neglect to count how many demonic louts from purgatory are watching them. The chorus has grown large as the debate got funnier. This is, after all, Dionysus, the god of partying, on stage.

Dionysus wants to bring Euripides back to Athens which, in 405 BC, has sufficient tragedies of its own!. But first, Euripides challenges Aeschylus, another deceased tragic playwright, to compete for his Chair of the Greatest Dead Tragic Playwright.

Dionysus, as patron god of theater, judges the competition. But whenever Euripides tries to recite the poetic opening to one of his plays, Aeschylus points out it's written in "iambic tetrameter". "da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM." This implies Euripides simply "stenciled" each play onto the next one, without actually varying its accouterments. This irritates Euripides, who keeps trying to prove he has ever written a play in a different meter, and failing.

(The modern equivalent would be pointing out Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is nothing but the Eagles' "Lyin' Eyes" with the measures shifted over, or "Wild Thing" by the Trogs is just "Louie Louie", as performed by the Kingsmen, with the accents changed around.)

Scholars often translate Aeschylus's accusation, "ληκύθιον ἀπώλεσεν" (li-KEETH-i-ON ap-OWL-ee-SEN, or "little-oil-flask depleted"), as "lost his little oil flask". But this translation puts accuracy above meter - AND it moves what's missing from the oil to the flask. So my version pushes up the sexual connotation. An oil flask is what you'd bring in your hip pocket to a tryst. The translation "he LOST his LUB-ri-CAT-ing OIL" is the correct meter, and it allows - as usual for Aristophanes - our imaginations to run riot. Especially when the first line of an Euripides play lands in a very unfortunate place...

Dionysus finally manipulates Euripides into going on the offensive and challenging Aeschylus's music. I apologize in advance y'all can't hear what I do here.


Previous page:

The Frogs starts at

The Frogs Act 3 (the contest) starts at

See also ZeekLand,

CategoryWhimsy, CategoryClassicLiterature(Really!), CategoryGreenCheese

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