THE Frogs is a comedy play by Aristophanes (c 445 – c 385 BCE), the most famous of the comic playwrights of ancient Greece. Named after the creatures who composed the play’s chorus, it won first prize at the dramatic festival at Lenaea in 405 BCE and, proving to be successful, it would later be performed at the Dionysia festival in Athens.
The play represented the last of the playwright’s works written during the turbulent era of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Although he endured prosecution for his continued attacks on the politician Cleon, The Frogs brought Aristophanes public honors for its promotion of Athenian unity. The play tells the story of Dionysos, the patron deity of theater, who complains about the sad state of Athenian drama. In an attempt to save tragedy from a generation of poor writers, Dionysos, disguised as the god Hercules, and his slave Xanthias, descend into Hades to bring Euripides back from the dead – the tragedian had died the previous year. However, before Dionysos can leave Hades and return to Athens, he is persuaded to serve as a judge at Hades’ court over a contest between Euripides and Aeschylus as to who was the greatest Athenian tragic poet.