Aristophanes is the only
"old accuser" specifically referred to by Socrates.
While a young man, and just after the Athenian retreat from
Delium during the Peloponnesian
War, he authored The Clouds. Many scholars see it as a means
of addressing, on the comic stage, the social tensions existing in
Athens at the time, particularly the irritants
and frustrations of a state not doing well in a war. In
it Socrates is portrayed, in a very uncomplimentary
way, as both Sophist and
nature philosopher. Both Xenophon
and Plato are adamant about this portrayal being
false, and we have no reason to doubt them. In all probability, many
Athenians mistook the artistic expressions in
The Clouds for a documentary, all to the disadvantage of
Socrates years later.