Chapter 1. Introduction
ἴδμεν δ᾽, εὖτ’ ἐθέλωμεν, ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι.
but we know to sing true things when we wish.
We may infer that Hesiod, like the Muses, is capable of speaking not only true things but also many false things that resemble truth. This is a divine sort of power that mortals may obtain only through inspiration.
ὅσσα παρ’ ἀνθρώποισιν ὀνείδεα καὶ ψόγος ἐστίν,
κλέπτειν μοιχεύειν τε καὶ ἀλλήλους ἀπατεύειν.
things that are shameful and blameworthy among men,
theft, adultery and deceiving one another.
Xenophanes is generally thought to be “the first person on record to condemn the epic explicitly on moral grounds.”  In response to this sort of criticism, which focuses on the immorality of myths found in poetry, allegorical interpretations of traditional poetry are offered by such figures as Theagenes of Rhegium in the sixth century and Anaxagoras in the fifth. Allegorical interpretations of poems defend the value of poetry as a didactic medium from which one can learn about the physical universe as well as about moral questions.
ἐγὼ φράσω. ’πειδὴ γὰρ εἱστιώμεθ’, ὥσπερ ἴστε,
πρῶτον μὲν αὐτὸν τὴν λύραν λαβόντ’ ἐγὼ ’κέλευσα
ᾆσαι Σιμωνίδου μέλος, τὸν Κριόν, ὡς ἐπέχθη.
ὁ δ’ εὐθέως ἀρχαῖον εἶν’ ἔφασκε τὸ κιθαρίζειν
ᾄδειν τε πίνονθ’, ὡσπερεὶ κάχρυς γυναῖκ’ ἀλοῦσαν.
When we were feasting, as you know, I first asked him to
take up the lyre and sing a song of Simonides, “How the
ram was shorn.” But he immediately said that it was old-
fashioned to play the cithara and to sing while drinking,
and he compared this to a woman grinding wheat.
Pheidippides, we are told, regards performing lyrical compositions after dinner as passé. He even dares to call Simonides a bad poet: καὶ τὸν Σιμωνίδην ἔφασκ’ εἶναι κακὸν ποιητήν (1362), Strepsiades then asks his son to recite, without musical accompaniment, some lines of Aeschylus; Pheidippides proceeds to criticize the old-fashioned tragic poet Aeschylus, who is regarded by his father as foremost among poets (1366: πρῶτον ἐν ποιηταῖς). The performance of lyrical compositions by educated symposiasts is of course obsolete by Aristophanes’ time; however, Strepsiades is portrayed as nostalgic for the good old days when a sound education in the classics presupposed the ability not only to recite but also to sing lyric works and accompany oneself on a musical instrument like the cithara.  Strepsiades’ preference for the older, more august tragedies of Aeschylus instead of the newer works of Euripides is similar to the verdict of Dionysus in the Frogs; in both plays, Aeschylus, as opposed to Euripides, is represented as part of the established poetic heritage of the polis. Aristophanes’ plays, therefore, are works of literary criticism, since they not only parody the particular themes and types of diction found in the works of Aeschylus and Euripides but also highlight the central role of poetry and music in the sphere of civic education.