Classical comedies
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Classical Comedies. Theater Masks. Comedy in Greece. “ Glue of Democracy” Athenian citizens could attend for free Theoric Fund Two main purposes: Entertain the audience Teach/inform the audience Divided into Old, Middle and New comedy Most of Middle comedy has been lost

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Classical Comedies

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Classical comedies

Classical Comedies


Theater masks

Theater Masks


Comedy in greece

Comedy in Greece

  • “Glue of Democracy”

  • Athenian citizens could attend for free

    • Theoric Fund

  • Two main purposes:

    • Entertain the audience

    • Teach/inform the audience

  • Divided into Old, Middle and New comedy

    • Most of Middle comedy has been lost

    • Roman Comedy most like New comedy

  • Comedies would be performed at one of two festivals:

    • Laenaea

      • Less prestigious

      • Comedy based festival

    • City/Great Dionysia


City great dionysia

City/Great Dionysia

  • Named after the god of theater: Dionysus

  • Held in Theater of Dionysus not far outside of Athens

  • 14,000-18,000 attendees

  • Five days long


City great dionysia1

City/Great Dionysia

  • Started 10th day of Elephebolion (March/April)

  • First had comedies in 486 BC

  • Day I: Great procession, Communal beef supper

  • Day 2:Prayers and Libations, Procession of tribute, Procession of ephebes, Civic business

  • Days 2-4: three authors get to showcase their work:

    • Three tragedies in a theme

      • Ex: Oedipus the King, Antigone, and Oedipus at Colonus

    • Satyr play

      • Slapstick and crude humor

  • Day 5: Comedies

  • Dithyrambs

    • Chorus songs that tell story


Structure of greek plays

Structure of Greek Plays

  • Prologue, -1st scene or scenes. Everything before first entrance of chorus. Farsical, often irrelevant to main plot

  • Parodos-initial entrance of chorus. Sing while they enter. Stay even if not singing

  • Episodes- that which follows the ode. Acts. Generally in speech, though it could be songs, too. All characters but chorus leave stage at end of episode

  • Stasimon-Choral odes sung between episodes. Strophe and Antistrophe.

  • Parabasis-“coming forward” of the chorus. Chorus gives advice to the audience, unconnected to anything in the play. Often voice of playwright, but could just be something that would be popular.


Old comedy

Old Comedy

  • Most famous Old Comedy author: Aristophanes

  • Highly satirical

  • Mostly written in Athens

  • Characters had symbolic and political value

    • Character could represent actual political figure

    • Character could represent something more vague, like the people, or disbelief


New comedy

New Comedy

  • Origins/Underpinnings of Comedy

    • Comedy=Komos (revel)+aoide (song)

    • Purpose: uplift an audience

    • Means of doing so?

    • Upsetting social order

    • Proper realignment of the social order

      • Characters receive their proper rewards

  • Comedy of Manners

    • Form of drama that plays on the manners and fashions of a particular social class or set

    • Plot and characters are shallow and repetitive from play to play

    • Always ends happy.

  • Athens was now subjugated to the Macedonians after the death of Alexander the Great

  • Most famous author: Menander


Roman comedy

Roman Comedy

  • Very similar to New Comedy, but with some more crude jokes

  • Often reinterpreted or translated from Greek plays into Latin

  • Clever slaves as trusted advisors/skilled manipulators

  • Most famous authors: Terence and Plautus

  • Were performed at games and celebrations with many other distractions, not at festivals


Costumes scenery

Costumes/scenery

  • Would wear clothes appropriate for the social class of the character

  • Theater Masks over-sized and over-exaggerated

    • Would resonate sound like a bull-horn so the actors could be heard

  • Scenery consisted of three doorways-nothing else

  • Limited props


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