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Essay #2: The Clouds


May be handed in in class or submitted by email in a DOCX, DOC, PDF, or RTF format. Note: Your email submission only “counts” if you receive a reply back from me saying I got it. As stated in the syllabus, any late submissions are marked down 10 points per class meeting.

Please format your essay as follows. Your essay should

  • Be typed, double-spaced, in 12 pt. Times or Arial, with one-inch margins. Please spellcheck and, if you’re not sure about your writing, have a friend read it. I will not mark down for grammar, but clarity is vital.
  • Have a cover page with the title, your name, my name, and the date; and have page numbers on each page after the cover.
  • Run 3–4 full pages, plus the cover page. Start with an introduction stating your opinion; then give your evidence in the main body; followed by a conclusion summarizing how the evidence supports your opinion.
  • Have all direct quotations, indirect quotations, and ideas from other sources footnoted according to a standard citation style. This is extremely important and failure to do this will seriously affect your grade.
    • You may NOT use tertiary sources for any assignment you hand in to me. Tertiary sources include textbooks, encyclopedias, and almost everything on the internet.
  • Optional draft due: Monday, Apr. 23. I will not grade it, but I will provide feedback.


Choose one of the following topics, using The Clouds plus at least one additional primary or secondary source:

  1. Compare The Clouds to a Greek play that is not a comedy (e.g., a drama by Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, etc.). How does Aristophanes present the protagonist of The Clouds, Strepsiades, in a similar way to the tragic hero of the drama? How is Strepsiades presented differently from the tragic hero? Do these similarities and differences relate more to the format (comedy vs. drama) or the content and message of the plays? By your own definition of “tragic hero,” would you describe Strepsiades as one, and why?
  2. Compare The Clouds another play by Aristophanes. What themes and ideas are present in both plays? Is Aristophanes’s approach or methodology different in the other play? What conclusions can you draw about Aristophanes’s approach to writing, and about his overall philosophy?
  3. Compare The Clouds to primary and secondary sources on either (a) the sophists or (b) Socrates. What does Aristophanes really accuse his targets of? In your opinion, is Aristophanes justified in attacking them as a threat to Athens?


Your conclusion should be the last one-third or so of your essay and relate to the following: How, specifically, does what’s depicted in the play reflect what the playwright is trying to say about his society?

Remember to think of the play as a kind of primary source, in which the creators are giving evidence of idea they want to communicate. What their main points in this document, and how is your character being used to communicate them?

Remember that, as always, I am looking for your opinion and how well you support it with evidence; this essay is less about “right answers” than it is about well-supported ideas. Feel free to praise or complain about the author’s style, techniques, or attitude, as long as you cover the points of the assignment described above.