Aristophanes' Frogs was produced in 405 BC, shortly after the deaths of the two great veteran Athenian tragic dramatists Euripides and Sophocles; it was restaged a year later, a few weeks before a starving Athens at last accepted defeat in the long Peloponnesian War. Dionysus, the god of drama, wine and joyful celebration, goes down to the underworld to bring his favourite poet, Euripides, back from the dead, and surprises both himself and the audience by bringing back instead Aeschylus, who had died fifty years before, with the mission of saving both Athens and Tragedy from ruin. The contest for the throne of tragedy between Euripides and Aeschylus is the earliest sustained piece of literary criticism in the Western tradition. This edition is the first to combine a reliable English translation of Frogs with a full explanatory commentary; it also includes a freshly constituted Greek text.
Alan H Sommerstein is Professor of Greek and Director of the Centre for Ancient Drama and its Reception, University of Nottingham; editor of the Aristophanes volumes in the Aris PHIllips Classical Texts series and of Aeschylus Eumenides (Cambridge, 1989); author of Aeschylean Tragedy (Bari, 1996) and of Greek Drama and Dramatists (London, 2002); co-editor of Tragedy, Comedy and the Polis (Bari, 1993), Shards from Kolonos: Studies in Sophoclean Fragments (Bari, forthcoming) and several other multi-author volumes. He is coordinating a collaborative edition of selected fragmentary plays of Sophocles for this series.