Comedy background:

 origins of comedy (and tragedy) in festivals of Dionysus. 

At Athens Lenaia Jan/Feb and Greater Dionysia in Feb/March.

       Meineck discounts Aristotle’s notion that komoidia began as ‘village song’

      – it is rather ‘revel song’ exuberant celebration, sacred to Dionysus from its origins.

      – but comedy probably had an element of social criticism from the outset,

      – linked  to country celebration (roasting the elite) ?

Aristophanes, free-thinker and parodist of free-thinkers (ridicule of Socrates in Clouds)

       close contemporary of Alcibiades.

Spokesman of Athenian character:

      anti-imperial farce in (lost) Babylonians  426 (?)

        (enslaved Greeks, branded, as chorus of 'Babylonian slaves'? rescued by Dionysus?)

          outraged Cleon (advocate of genocide v. Mitylene the year before) brought charges.

425 Ar. indicates in prologue to Acharnians that Cleon was (somehow) embarassed

     by the Knights (cavalry corps), forced to cough up 5 talents.

 424 Ar. authors the Knights portraying chorus of irascible old cavalry,

      as personified Demos lords it over his faithful servants. 

          Paphlagon the tanner (=Cleon) in contest with Sausage-seller

      (you don't have to be a sleazy character to succeed in politics but it helps.)

423 takes us to one of the most famous plays of Ar. if not THE most notorious,

      Clouds (in which Socrates is portrayed in the character that later got him killed).

      423 is also the year when Cleon prevails, and Scione (up north) is ‘cleansed’


Which brings us down to Lenaia of 422 and our play Wasps. 

      Cleon would later recapture Amphipolis—and would die there later the same year

       In the midst of these grim events, a play about … the Athenian obsession with law courts and trials.