The Birth of Comedy: Texts, Documents, and Art from Athenian Comic Competitions, 486-280

The Birth of Comedy: Texts, Documents, and Art from Athenian Comic Competitions, 486-280


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Aside from the well-known plays of Aristophanes, many of the comedies of ancient Greece are known only through fragments and references written in Greek. Now a group of distinguished scholars brings these nearly lost works to modern readers with lively English translations of the surviving texts.

The Birth of Comedy brings together a wealth of information on the first three generations of Western comedy. The translations, presented in chronological order, are based on the universally praised scholarly edition in Greek, Poetae Comici Graeci, by R. Kassel and C. A. Austin. Additional chapters contain translations of texts relating to comedy at dramatic festivals, staging, audience, and ancient writers on comedy. The main text is supplemented by an introduction assessing the fragments' contributions to the political, social, and theatrical history of classical Athens and more than forty illustrations of comic scenes, costumes, and masks. A glossary of komoidoumenoi—the ancient word for "people mentioned in comedies"—provides background information on the most notorious comic victims. A full index includes not only authors, play titles, and persons mentioned, but themes from the whole Greek comic sphere (including politics, literature and philosophy, celebrities and social scandals, cookery and wine, sex, and wealth).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421421186
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 01/02/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 816
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jeffrey Rusten is a professor of classics at Cornell University. Jeffrey Henderson is the William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Greek Language and Literature at Boston University. David Konstan is a professor of classics at New York University. Ralph Rosen is the Vartan Gregorian Professor of the Humanities and Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Niall W. Slater is the Dobbs Professor of Latin and Greek at Emory University.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Symbols and Abbreviations
Fragments of Comedy
Principles of This Selection
How to Use This Book
List of Translators and Sections
Plays and Fragments of Special Interest
Sources of the Comic Fragments
A Short History of Athenian Comedy
Attested Dates of Athenian Comedies, 486–280 BCE
Part I. Beginnings
1. Proto-Comedy
2. Epicharmus of Sicily
Part II. Athenian Old Comedy
3. Festivals, Competitions, and Victory Lists
4. The First and Second Generations (except Cratinus)
5. Cratinus
6. Eupolis
7. Aristophanes
8. Phrynichus and Platon
9. Other Authors, ca. 420–390 BCE
10. Theater, Audience, Actors, Chorus, and Costume of Old and Middle Comedy
11. Scenes from Old or Middle Comedy on Fourth-Century South Italian Vases
Part III. Middle Comedy
12. Anaxandrides, Eubulus, and Ephippus
13. Antiphanes
14. Timocles and Nicostratus
15. Alexis
16. Other Authors
Part IV. Athenian New Comedy
17. Masks, Actors, Staging, and Scenes from New Comedy
18. Philemon
19. Menander
20. Diphilus of Sinope
21. Other Authors
22. Survival of Comedy in Hellenistic Greece and Republican and Imperial Rome
23. Ancient Theories of Comedy and Laughter, and Ancient Writers on Comedy
Illustration Credits

What People are Saying About This

Kenneth Reckford

The scholarship is painstaking and thoroughly reliable; the translations are clear and enjoyable; the introductions are concise and interesting. I can’t think of another scholarly book this length that I so much enjoyed, and profited from, reading from beginning to end.

Kenneth Reckford, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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