Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gods and Clouds

Aristophanes, Greek playwright, was a contemporary of Socrates, the philosopher.  In his play, The Clouds, a philosopher named Socrates operates a ‘Thinkery’ which dismisses the gods. Socrates is questioned by his neighbour, a farmer.

“Who makes it rain if there is no Zeus?” asks the farmer.

“The clouds,” answers Socrates.  “If it were Zeus who made the rain, the clouds would not be required at all.  Zeus could make the rain from a clear sky too.”

“It must be Zeus who moves the clouds to the sky,” insists the farmer.

“No, you idiot,” says the impatient Socrates, “it’s the Convection-principle.”

“Convection!” the farmer wonders whether that’s a new god.  “So Zeus is out and convection is in.  Tch, tch!”  He thinks awhile and asks, “What about the lightning?  It must be Zeus who sends the lightning to kill liars.”

“It’s Zeus’s own temples that are frequently struck down by lightning,” mocks Socrates.  The philosopher goes on to demonstrate a large model of the universe and the function of the convection-principle in it.  The farmer is convinced.

A few days pass.  The farmer is unhappy that he lost his gods.  Socrates is responsible for the loss of his gods.  He gathers a few people who value gods.  The people march to Socrates’ house and sets it on fire.  The philosopher and his followers are burnt alive.

This drama was written when Socrates was still alive.  In reality Socrates was poisoned to death.


  1. Radicals were there then and radicals we have now.. The only thing that has changed, we have now the power of internet :) :P :D

  2. there has nothing changed since then till today, thanks for sharing..

    1. Exactly, Shweta, it's amazing how little progress we have made as a species in two and a half millennia

  3. Alarming that things are still the same today :S :|

    1. History can teach us very interesting lessons, Sreesha.

  4. That was a nice read.

    My favourite part -- “The clouds,” answers Socrates. “If it were Zeus who made the rain, the clouds would not be required at all. Zeus could make the rain from a clear sky too.”


    I wonder why the playwright decided to skip the Hemlock part.

    1. Hemlock came later. The play was written when Socrates was still alive.


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