There is just nobody to love in Aristophanes’ play, The Clouds. You have the protagonist, Strepsiades who took on more debt then he could repay, seeks help from Socrates to learn trickery to avoid his debts, and ultimately burns down Socrates’ school because although Socrates did teach his son how to use argument to get Strepsiades out of his debts, having a son would could justify anything ends up backfiring on him. You have Socrates who is pictured as an atheist who believes in nonsense, but at the same time is stilled enough in argument to allow “the Wrong” to always prevail over “the Right.” Strepsiades’ son starts off as a lay about and ends up as a pompous ass who beats his father and justifies it using the techniques his father sent him off to school to learn.
Although there is plenty of what Kevin Smith calls “dick and fart jokes” in this play, it is actually pretty sophisticated in its themes. Is the economic collapse really just an example of us all getting what we deserve? Just because one party is a villian, is his opponent necessarily a hero?
I initially perceived it as anti-intellectual–and it is certainly that–but I think it is also anti-youth, anti-aged, anti-common man. [Note: “common man” is not really common man. It is common fairly affluent man with servants and property etc. I find it interesting how much of literature and scripture is concerned with the behavior of the very wealthy.]