Ancient Greek comedy  

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ancient comedy, Greco-Roman satire

Ancient Greek comedy was one of three principal dramatic forms in the theatre of classical Greece (the others being tragedy and the satyr play). Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into three periods, Old Comedy, Middle Comedy, and New Comedy. Old Comedy survives today largely in the form of the eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes, while Middle Comedy is largely lost, i.e. preserved only in relatively short fragments in authors such as Athenaeus of Naucratis. New Comedy is known primarily from the substantial papyrus fragments of Menander. The philosopher Aristotle wrote in his Poetics (c. 335 BC) that comedy is a representation of laughable people and involves some kind of blunder or ugliness which does not cause pain or disaster.

Performance

The comedies were performed in Athens in formal competitions at two major festivals in honour of Dionysos, the god of wine and fertility. Each festival seems to have featured five comic poets staging a single play apiece, although it is possible that programs were reduced to three poets for a period due to the financial pressures of the Peloponnesian War. Poets applied to the archon in charge of the relevant festival for the right to participate in it. If chosen, they were awarded a choregos, i.e. a wealthy man who funded the performance, acting like a modern theatrical producer.

Playwrights sometimes re-wrote their plays, producing new versions to compete at the competitions.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ancient Greek comedy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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