Volume 44, Issue 2/3, Summer/Fall 2014
New Directions in the Thought of Leo Strauss
Leo Strauss and Aristophanes
Leo Strauss is one of a handful of political philosophers to turn his gaze to the political thought of Aristophanes. In his book Socrates and Aristophanes (1966), Strauss provides one of the longest, most methodical, and most comprehensive studies of the Aristophanic corpus. Taking as its starting point Strauss’s interpretation of Aristophanes’s Frogs—as it pertains to the political poetics of Aeschylus and Euripides—this essay seeks to demonstrate that Strauss’s reading of Aristophanes was influenced by Nietzsche’s hermeneutical framework of agonistic impulses. Via an interdisciplinary reading of the agonal erotopoetics involving Aristophanes and his older rival Cratinus, I argue that Strauss appreciated the concept of agonal creative contests and its intertextual manifestations. In addition, I raise the possibility that, similar to Nietzsche, Strauss’s perplexing style of writing is a mimetic form of agonal intertextuality.