MFtS: Feeding the Imagination

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Despite the mention of Zeus in the opening I decided not to include him in my story but to just use the setting of Ancient Greece…

Photo Prompt: © Barbara Beacham
Photo Prompt: © Barbara W. Beacham

Feeding the Imagination

“Zeus was not having a good day and he made sure everyone knew it.”

The storm’s ferocity halted their journey.

With his father’s forbidding presence beside him Ari resisted the urge to curse as they settled into a corner of the room. With the Lenaia so near he hadn’t wanted to leave Athens. Watching the festival’s comedies was the highlight of his year, as his father knew. He wouldn’t be surprised if the trip was timed for that very reason.

The place was busy; many forced to take shelter at Hermes’ shrine. As his father conversed with a group of traders, Ari sat and listened, each snippit of conversation feeding his imagination.

“…the banquet descended into mayhem…”

“…lost all our vines…”

“…his wife knows exactly how to get her way…”

Maybe his head was in the clouds, as his father accused – but he would not abandon his dream. Someday he’d be lauded as Athen’s greatest comic poet. He, Aristophanes, would be remembered forever.

Word Count: 150


I’ll admit – this story is somewhat geeky. I studied Ancient History and Classics at university and the plays of Aristophanes were some of my favourites to read. To fully pay homage to him I probably ought to have written a comic piece – but that’s not an area I’m particularly comfortable with! For those of you who have no idea who he is I thought I’d add a few historical notes. Hopefully the story will then make a little more sense!

Portrait of Aristophanes from bust found near Tusculum
Portrait of Aristophanes from bust found near Tusculum

Aristophanes has been called both ‘The Father of Comedy’ and ‘The Prince of Ancient Comedy’. His plays are the only real examples of Athenian comedy to have survived the centuries. His first play, The Banqueters, is thought to have been written and performed when he was only 18 years of age. As with many of his plays, it is now lost. Only eleven out of the thirty or forty plays he wrote have survived.

He was born around 446BC, though the exact date of his birth is unknown. Little is known of his background other than the name of his father – Phillipus – and that he was from the relatively wealthy Athenian deme (district) of Kydathenaion, an area of the city that included the Acropolis. I don’t know whether his father opposed his decision to become a comic poet (that’s my own addition) but Aristophanes did sometimes write about the tension between fathers and sons – most notably in his plays The Clouds and The Wasps.

One of my favourite plays is Lysistrata, the tale of an Athenian woman who persuades the women of Greece to withhold sex  in order to persuade the men to end the Peloponnesian War.  In The Birds he introduced the phrase ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’, when two men attempt to build the perfect town among the clouds. Most of his plays deal with issues around the war and Athenian politics. He was a great satirical writer, caricaturing familiar figures in city life. Plato blamed Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates in The Clouds for the philosopher’s subsequent trial and execution.

Comedy plays were performed  at two particular festivals in the Athenian calendar: the Lenaia, a festival to Dionysus Lenaius held in Athens in January, and the City Dionysia, held in March or April. The audiences voted for their favourite play and Aristophanes is known to have regularly won first or second place.

If you’d like to know a little more about Aristophanes you can go here or here.

If you’d like to read any of his plays you can go here.

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36 thoughts on “MFtS: Feeding the Imagination

  1. What struck me right off was reading the assigned opening line as something someone would say when there was a particularly bad storm. I don’t know if that was what you were going for, but it seemed to work like that. And, thanks for the history info. Very informative!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly what I was going for. I was a little worried I hadn’t made it clear but I didn’t have the words spare to add an extra line! Thanks for visiting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the info about Aristophanes…we studied a little about Greek Tragedies but nothing about comedies. A great take to the prompt and wonderful information.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most people know of the writers of the tragedies but comedies do tend to be neglected – possibly because they’re tied much more to the history of Athens rather than the myths. I’m glad you found it interesting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very unique and fascinating take on the prompt. I had vaguely heard of him before, but thanks to the interesting history you attached, I can safely write that my mind palace has expanded.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Than you, Desley. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 His plays are fun to read (Lysistrata and The Birds, particularly for me) but they are very tied to Athenian life. I read them at the same time as studying the period which definitely helped!

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  4. Interesting way of showing how he felt between all those voices and noises. Thanks for giving a bit of information extra on this “comedian” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. 🙂 So little is known about Aristophanes that you could write pretty much anything about him! I’m glad you enjoyed the story. 🙂

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  5. Excellent! Loved the visuals of the child listening to his father’s conversations while the storm raged around them. Loved how you wound the plays of Aristophanes into this and the information about him. Such an interesting time… Very well done!

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  6. I was lucky enough to have read Aristophanes in school. I liked the Clouds and another play that I can’t remember the name of.
    Your post isn’t “geek,” its great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I was a little worried that people wouldn’t get it. ‘Clouds’ is a good play – his portrayal of Socrates is rather amusing. 🙂 Thanks for visiting.

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  7. Good story, Louise. I learned some ancient history from this. Thanks for the note that made it clear. I never realized there were comic writers in ancient Greece. Well written. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Suzanne. 🙂 I’m glad you liked the story. There were actually as many comic writers as there were tragic writers in Ancient Greece. Unfortunately the only comedies to have survived are Aristophanes’, whereas a number of tragedies by a variety of writers have done so – which is why they’re much more well known.

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