Wasps was first produced at the Lenaea festival of 422 BC. The play is at once a political satire and also, like Clouds and the lost Banqueters, a comedy on the theme of the conflict of generations. The play follows the efforts of a mischievous and mercurial old man to escape the control of a stern and heavy son. In its political aspect it attacks the leading Athenian politician Cleon, as Knights had. But Wasps represents a departure as it concentrates less on Cleon personally, and more on his and his associates' alleged domination of the law-courts and the men who served in them as jurors. First published in 1983, this edition contains addenda and a new bibliography.
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.