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Encyclopedia > Ancient Greek comedy

Contents

Image File history File links Wikitext. ...

Evolution

This evolution is much simpler than that of its sister art, tragedy, mainly because there is little exact information regarding its origin and earlier development. All that Aristotle can tell us is that it first took shape in Megaris and Sicyon, whose people were noted for their coarse humour and sense of the ludicrous, while Susarion, the earliest comic poet, was a native of a Megarian town. Add to this that it arose from the phallic processions of the Greeks, as did tragedy from the dithyramb, and we have about all that is known about the origins of comedy. For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ... Megaris, a small but populous state of ancient Greece, south of Attica, whose inhabitants were adventurous seafarers, credited with deceitful propensities. ... Sicyon was an ancient Greek city situated in the northern Peloponnesus between Corinth and Achaea. ... Susarion, an ancient Greek comic poet, was a native of Tripodiscus in Megaris. ... The dithyramb was originally an ancient Greek hymn sung to the god Dionysus. ...


At the country festivals held in celebration of the vintage it was the custom for people to pass from village to village, some in carts, uttering the crude jests and abuse unjustly attributed to the tragic choruses; others on foot, bearing aloft the phallic emblem and singing the praises of Phales, the comrade of Bacchus. In cities it was also the custom, after an evening banquet, for young men to roam around the streets with torches in their hands, headed by a lyre or flute-player. Such a group of revellers was called a komos, and a member of the band a komast or komos-singer, the song itself being termed a komoedia, or comedy, just as a song of satyrs was named a tragoedia, or tragedy. This article is about the ancient deity. ... State Banquet. ... “Lyres” redirects here. ... ♠ This article is about the family of musical instruments. ... Komos or Chorus?, revellry scene from an Attic Komast cup, ca. ... A comedy is a dramatic performance of a light and amusing character, usually with a happy conclusion to its plot. ... A bald, bearded, horse-tailed satyr balances a winecup on his erect penis, a trick worthy of note, on an Attic red-figured psykter, ca. ... For other uses, see Tragedy (disambiguation). ...


The Phallic processions were continued as late as the days of Aristotle (384322 BC), and we learn from one of the orations of Demosthenes that the riotous youths who infested the streets of Athens delighted in their comic buffooneries. Pasquinades of the most obscene kind were part of the exhibitions. When formally established as part of the Dionysiac festivals, the Leneas and Dionysia, it had its chorus, though less numerous and costly than the dithyrambic choir, and the actors, at first without masks, disguised their features by smearing them with the lees of wine. Centuries: 5th century BC - 4th century BC - 3rd century BC Decades: 430s BC 420s BC 410s BC 400s BC 390s BC - 380s BC - 370s BC 360s BC 350s BC 340s BC 330s BC Years: 389 BC 388 BC 387 BC 386 BC 385 BC - 384 BC - 383 BC 382 BC... Centuries: 5th century BC - 4th century BC - 3rd century BC Decades: 370s BC 360s BC 350s BC 340s BC 330s BC - 320s BC - 310s BC 300s BC 290s BC 280s BC 270s BC 327 BC 326 BC 325 BC 324 BC 323 BC - 322 BC - 321 BC 320 BC 319... Orator is a Latin word for speaker (from the Latin verb oro, meaning I speak or I pray). In ancient Rome, the art of speaking in public (Ars Oratoria) was a professional competence especially cultivated by politicians and lawyers. ... Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek: Δημοσθένης, Dēmosthénēs) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ... Pasquinade refers to a lampoon, whether in verse or in prose. ... The Dionysia was a large religious festival in ancient Athens in honour of the god Dionysus, the central event of which was the performance of tragedies and comedies. ... Lees is the detritous of fermentation, consisting of dead yeast, fruit debris and schmutz. ... For other uses, see Wine (disambiguation). ...


Comedy is defined by Plato as the generic name for all exhibitions which have a tendency to excite laughter. Though its development was mainly due to the political and social conditions of Athens, it finally held up the mirror to all that was characteristic of Athenian life. For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ...


Forms of Ancient Greek Comedy

By a consensus of authorities comedy has been arranged in three divisions, or rather should they be termed variations in form - the old, the middle and the new.


Old Comedy

The old comedy, dating from the establishment of democracy by Kleisthenes, about 510 BCE, arose, as we have seen, from the obscene jests of Dionysian revellers, to which was given a political application. In outward form these comedies were the most extravagant of burlesque, in essence they were the most virulent of abuse and personal vilification. In its license of word and gesture, on its audacious directness of invective, no restriction was placed by the dramatist, the audience or the authorities. The satire and abuse were directed against some object of popular dislike, to whom were not only applied such epithets as coward, fool and knave, but he was represented as saying and doing everything that was contemptible, as suffering everything that was ludicrous and degrading. But this alone would not have won for comedy such recognition as it received from the refined and cultured community of the age of Pericles. The comic dramatist who would gain a hearing in Athens must borrow from tragedy all its most attractive features, its choral dances, its masked actors, its metres, its scenery and stage mechanism, and above all the chastened elegance of the Attic language - for this the audience required from the dramatist, as from the lyric poet and the orator. Thus comedy became a recognized branch of the drama, often presenting a brilliant sparkle in dialogue and a poetic beauty in the choral parts not unworthy of the best efforts of the tragic muse. Thus, also, it became a powerful engine in the hands of a skillful and unscrupulous politician.


It was upon this stock that the mighty genius of Aristophanes grafted the Pantagruelism, which, ever since it was reproduced by Rabelais, has had among European writers, as in Cervantes, Swift, Voltaire and others, some adequate representation. Though the word Pantagruelism is applied by Rabelais to the characters sustained by court fools, he made a free use both of the spirit and mechanical appliances of old Greek comedy, adopting the disguise of buffoonery to attack some prevailing form of cant and hypocrisy. And this is precisely what Aristophanes did, the term invented by the great French master accurately describing the chief characteristics of his prototype.


Middle Comedy

The line between Old and Middle Comedy is not very clearly marked, Aristophanes and others of the latest writers of the one becoming the earliest writers of the other. The latter was indeed merely an offshoot of the former, but differed from it in three essential particulars:


It had no chorus, Public characters were not impersonated or personified on the stage
The objects of ridicule were general rather than personal, literary rather than political.

Where Old Comedy was caricature and lampoon, Middle Comedy was criticism and review.


The period of the Middle Comedy extended from the close of the Peloponnesian war to the enthrallment of Athens by Philip of Macedon; that is to say, from the closing years of the fifth to nearly the middle of the fourth century BCE. It was extremely prolific in plays, but not especially so in genius. The favorite themes were the literary and social peculiarities of the day, which, together with the prominent systems of philosophy, were treated with light and not ill-natured ridicule. The grandest tragedies of Æschylus and Sophocles, the noblest passages of Homer, and the most beautiful lyrics of Pindar and Simonides were freely parodied. Subjects taken directly from ancient mythology were treated in the same way. In dealing with society, classes rather than individuals were attacked, as courtesans, parasites, revelers, and especially the self-conceited cook, who, with his parade of culinary science, was always a favorite target for the shafts of middle comedy.


New Comedy

Molded terracotta figurine of an actor wearing the mask of a bald-headed white man, from the New Comedy, 2nd century BCE, from Canino, Italy
Molded terracotta figurine of an actor wearing the mask of a bald-headed white man, from the New Comedy, 2nd century BCE, from Canino, Italy

The new comedy lasted throughout the reign of the Macedonian rulers, ending about 260 BC. It may be studied to better advantage in the Latin adaptations by Plautus and Terence than in the few Greek fragments that have come down to us (though during the twentieth century, the complete text of Dyskolos, a play by Menander, the leading writer of New Comedy, has been rediscovered. It is the only example of New Comedy to have survived in its entirety. A few long fragments by Menander have survived as well from such plays as The Arbitraton, The Girl from Samos, The Shorn Girl, and The Hero), nor did it differ essentially from the comic drama of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, Congreve and Wycherley[1]. For the first time love became a principal element in the drama, but it was seldom an honest love. The stock characters of the senex iratus, or "angry old man," the domineering parent who is all too often led into the vices and follies for which he has reproved his son, and the Miles Gloriosus or mercenary soldier newly returned from war with a noisy tongue, a full purse and an empty head also make their appearances. With these exceptions, the characters were very much the same as in the middle comedy. There can be little doubt that the new comedy faithfully represented the most salient features of Athenian society; but it made no attempt to improve it, presenting only in attractive colors the lax morality of the age. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 270 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1650 × 3666 pixel, file size: 3. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 270 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1650 × 3666 pixel, file size: 3. ... Canino, a town and comune of Italy, in the province of Viterbo in northern Lazio, 42° 27 54 0 Nord 11° 45 7 56 Est, at 229 meters above sea-level in the internal part of Maremma. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 310s BC 300s BC 290s BC 280s BC 270s BC - 260s BC - 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC Years: 265 BC 264 BC 263 BC 262 BC 261 BC - 260 BC - 259 BC 258 BC... For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... Titus Macchius Plautus, generally referred to simply as Plautus, was a playwright of Ancient Rome. ... Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence, was a comic playwright of the Roman Republic. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s The 20th century lasted from 1901 to 2000 in the Gregorian calendar (often from (1900 to 1999 in common usage). ... Dyskolos (Greek, the grouch) is the only complete play written by Menander, and in general of the whole New Comedy, arrived to present days The complete manuscript of Dyskolos was published from a recovered papyrus manuscript in 1957; the paryrus had been purchased by the Swiss bibliophile Martin Bodmer, and... Bust of Menander Menander (342–291 BC) (Greek ), Greek dramatist, the chief representative of the New Comedy, was born in Athens. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... For other persons of the same name, see Ben Johnson (disambiguation). ... William Congreve (January 24, 1670 – January 19, 1729) was an English playwright and poet. ... William Wycherley in 1675. ... The senex iratus or heavy father figure is a comic archetype character who belongs to the alazon or impostor group in theater, manifesting himself through his rages and threats, his obsessions and his gullibility. ... Miles Gloriosus (literally, boastful soldier, in Latin) is a stock character from the drama, specifically comedy, of classical Rome, and variations on this character have appeared in drama and fiction ever since. ...


List of Comic Poets

  • [[Susarion]kenzie] of Megara (~580 BC)
  • Epicharmus of Kos (~540-450 BC)
  • Cratinus (~520-420 BC)
  • Chionides 486 BC
  • Magnes 472 BC
  • Eunicus 5th c.BC
  • Eupolis (~446-411 BC)
  • Hegemon of Thasos 5th c.BC
  • Telecleides 5th c.BC
  • Pherecrates 5th c.BC
  • Crates (comic poet) ca.450 c.BC
  • Hermippus 435 BC
  • Phrynichus (~429 BC)
  • Cantharus[1] 422 BC
  • Strattis (~412-390 BC)
  • Cephisodorus[2] 402 BC
  • Plato (comic poet) late 5th c.BC
  • Nicophon 5th c.BC
  • Nicochares (d.~345 BC)
  • Callias Schoenion[http:-bio/0577.html]
  • Sannyrion[3]
  • Diocles of Phlius[4]
  • Aristophanes(~456–386 BC)
  • His sons Araros, Philippus, and Nicostratus were also comic poets.
  • Antiphanes (~408-334 BC) Middle Comedy
  • Eubulus early 4th c.BC
  • Epicrates of Ambracia 4th c.BC
  • Anaxandrides 4th c.BC
  • Alexis (~375 BC - 275 BC)
  • Menander (~342–291 BC) New Comedy
  • Philippides[5]
  • Philemon of Soli or Syracuse (~362–262 BC)
  • Apollodorus of Carystus (~300-260 BC)
  • Diphilus of Sinope (~340-290 BC)
  • Machon of Corinth/Alexandria 3th c.BC
  • Poseidippus of Cassandreia (~316–250 BC)
  • Laines or Laenes 185 BC
  • Philemon 183 BC
  • Chairion or Chaerion 154 BC

Megara (Greek: Μέγαρα (Big Houses); see also List of traditional Greek place names) is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. ... A painting by Jacob Philipp Hackert Epicharmus is considered to have lived within the hundred year period between c. ... Cratinus (c. ... Eupolis (ca. ... Hegemon of Thasos, Greek writer of the old comedy, nicknamed ~ae~ from his fondness for lentils. ... A Greek Poet of comedy from the 5th century BC, and a violent opponent of Pericles. ... Pherecrates, Greek poet of the Old Attic Comedy, was a contemporary of Cratinus, Crates and Aristophanes. ... Hermippus, the one-eyed, Athenian writer of the Old Comedy, flourished during the Peloponnesian War. ... This article is about the comic poet. ... Strattis, (Greek: Στράττις) was an Athenian comic poet of the Old Comedy, whose plays were probably written and produced between 412 and 390 BCE. According to the Suda Lexicon, which quotes Athenaeuss second book of Deipnosophistae, his works included: Anthroporaistes Atalante Agathoi Iphigeron Kallippides Kinesias Limnomedon Makedones Medeia Troilus Phoenissae... Plato was an Athenian comic poet and contemporary of Aristophanes. ... This article is about the 5-4th century BC dramatist. ... Antiphanes, the most important writer of the Middle Attic comedy with the exception of Alexis, lived from about 408 to 334 BC. He was apparently a foreigner who settled in Athens, where he began to write about 387. ... Eubulus was an Athenian Middle Comic poet, victorious six times at the Lenaia, first probably in the late 370s or 360s BC (IG II2 2325. ... Anaxandrides (Αναξανδριδεσ), was an Athenian comic poet, contemporary of Aristotle. ... For other uses, see Alexis (disambiguation). ... Bust of Menander Menander (342–291 BC) (Greek ), Greek dramatist, the chief representative of the New Comedy, was born in Athens. ... Philemon (c. ... Soli (also Soloi) was an ancient city in Cilicia, in present day Turkey. ... Syracuse (Italian Siracusa, Sicilian Sarausa, Greek , Latin Syracusae) is an Italian city on the eastern coast of Sicily and the capital of the province of Syracuse. ... Apollodorus of Carystus in Euboea was one of the most important writers of the Attic New Comedy, who flourished in Athens between 300 and 260 B.C. He is to be distinguished from the older Apollodorus of Gela (342—290), also a writer of comedy. ... Diphilus, of Sinope, poet of the new Attic comedy and contemporary of Menander (342-291 BC). ... Sinope was an ancient city on the Black Sea, in the region of Galatia, modern-day Sinop, Turkey. ... Machon (fl. ...

References

  • Aristotle, Poetics, lines beginning at 1449a. [6]
  • The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, volume 1, by Alfred Bates. (London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906)
  • P.W. Buckham, Theatre of the Greeks, 1827.
  • Francis MacDonald Cornford, The Origin of Attic Comedy, 1934.
  • Xavier Riu, Dionysism and Comedy, 1999. [7]

Alfred Bates (born 8 June 1944) is a British Labour Party politician. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... 1906 (MCMVI) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Francis Macdonald Cornford (1874-1943) was an English classical scholar and poet. ...

External links

  • An article on the origin of comedy
  • "Aristotle on Comedy" by Prof. Malcolm Heath, University of Leeds
  • BBC Radio 4 "In Our Time" programme on ancient Greek Comedy, Thursday 13 July 2006

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