Contents 1 Periods 1.1 Old Comedy (archaia) 1.2 Middle Comedy (mese) 1.3 New Comedy (nea) 2 Dramatists 2.1 Old Comedy 2.2 Middle Comedy 2.3 New Comedy 3 Poets of uncertain date 4 See also 5 Notes 6 Sources 7 Further reading 8 External links

Periods[edit] The Alexandrine grammarians, and most likely Aristophanes of Byzantium in particular, seem to have been the first to divide Greek comedy into what became the canonical three periods:[3] Old Comedy (ἀρχαία archaia), Middle Comedy (μέση mese) and New Comedy (νέα nea). These divisions appear to be largely arbitrary, and ancient comedy almost certainly developed constantly over the years.[4] Old Comedy (archaia)[edit] Main article: Old Comedy The most important Old Comic dramatist is Aristophanes. Born in 446 B.C., his works, with their pungent political satire and abundance of sexual and scatological innuendo, effectively define the genre today. Aristophanes lampooned the most important personalities and institutions of his day, as can be seen, for example, in his buffoonish portrayal of Socrates in The Clouds, and in his racy anti-war farce Lysistrata. He was one of a large number[clarification needed] of comic poets working in Athens in the late 5th century, his most important contemporary rivals being Hermippus and Eupolis. The Old Comedy subsequently influenced later European writers such as Rabelais, Cervantes, Swift, and Voltaire. In particular, they copied the technique of disguising a political attack as buffoonery. Terracotta comic theatre mask, 4th/3rd century BC (Stoa of Attalus, Athens) Middle Comedy (mese)[edit] The line between Old and Middle Comedy is not clearly marked chronologically, Aristophanes and others of the latest writers of the Old Comedy being sometimes regarded as the earliest Middle Comic poets. For ancient scholars, the term may have meant little more than "later than Aristophanes and his contemporaries, but earlier than Menander". Middle Comedy is generally seen as differing from Old Comedy in three essential particulars: the role of the chorus was diminished to the point where it had no influence on the plot; public characters were not impersonated or personified onstage; and the objects of ridicule were general rather than personal, literary rather than political. For at least a time, mythological burlesque was popular among the Middle Comic poets. Stock characters of all sorts also emerge: courtesans, parasites, revellers, philosophers, boastful soldiers, and especially the conceited cook with his parade of culinary science. Because no complete Middle Comic plays have been preserved, it is impossible to offer any real assessment of their literary value or "genius". But many Middle Comic plays appear to have been revived in Sicily and Magna Graecia in this period, suggesting that they had considerable widespread literary and social influence. New Comedy (nea)[edit] This section is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay that states a Wikipedia editor's personal feelings about a topic. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. (March 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) Figurine of an actor wearing the mask of a bald-headed man, 2nd century BC. New Comedy followed the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and lasted throughout the reign of the Macedonian rulers, ending about 260 BC.[5] It is comparable to situation comedy and comedy of manners.[4] The three best-known playwrights belonging to this genre are Menander, Philemon and Diphilus. Menander was the most successful of these three comedians. His comedies not only provided their audience with a brief respite from reality, but also gave audiences an accurate, while not greatly detailed, picture of life. This led an ancient critic to ask if life influenced Menander in the writing of his plays or if the case was vice versa. Unlike predecessors such as Aristophanes, Menander's comedies tended to center on the fears and foibles of the ordinary man, his personal relationships, family life and social mishaps rather than politics and public life. This seems to be what made him more successful than the other Greek comedians who wrote in the same genre. These plays were much less satirical than preceding comedies. The other two comedians are Philemon and Diphilus. Philemon was a comedian whose comedies dwelt on philosophical issues and Diphilus was a comedian whose comedies were noted for their broad comedy and farcical violence. Philemon's comedies survive only in fragments, but Diphilus' comedies were translated and adapted by Plautus. Examples of these comedies are Plautus' Asinaria and Rudens. Based on the translation and adaptation of Diphilus' comedies by Plautus, one can conclude that he was skilled in the construction of his plots. Roman, Republican or Early Imperial, Relief of a seated poet (Menander) with masks of New Comedy, 1st century B.C. – early 1st century A.D., Princeton University Art Museum Substantial fragments of New Comedy have survived, but no complete plays. The most substantially preserved text is the Dyskolos ("Difficult Man, Grouch") by Menander, discovered on a papyrus, and first published in 1958. The Cairo Codex (found in 1907) also preserves long sections of plays including Epitrepontes ("Men at Arbitration"), Samia ("The Girl from Samos"), and Perikeiromene ("The Girl who had her Hair Shorn"). Much of the rest of our knowledge of New Comedy is derived from the Latin adaptations by Plautus and Terence.[citation needed] The playwrights of the Greek New Comedy genre built on a considerable legacy from their predecessors, drawing upon a vast array of dramatic devices, characters and situations their predecessors had developed. Prologues to shape the audience's understanding of events, messengers' speeches to announce offstage action, descriptions of feasts, sudden recognitions, ex machina endings were all established techniques which playwrights exploited and evoked in their comedies. The satirical and farcical element which featured so strongly in Aristophanes' comedies increasingly diminished in importance as time went on. It was eventually given up more or less completely and was not to be revived. The de-emphasis of the grotesque, whether in the form of choruses, humour or spectacle opened the way for increased representation of daily life and the foibles of recognisable character types. Unlike their predecessor, Aristophanes, some of whose comedies departed from the Athenian setting or covered mythological themes and subjects, their plays were seldom placed in a setting other than their everyday world (Diphilus was a notable exception). Gods and goddesses in New Comedy were personified abstractions who seldom appeared in their plays. There are generally no miracles or metamorphoses. The Greek playwrights of this period not only developed a literary style that differed from their predecessors in multiple ways, they also made considerable innovations in literature. Examples of their innovations were the development of a whole series of distinct stereotype characters which were to become the stock characters of Western comedy and the contributions they made to the development of the play. The cast of Menander's plays included a number of minor characters drawn from a limited number of one-dimensional stock types such as cooks or parasites who introduced familiar jokes and recognisable patterns of speech. Other stock characters in Menander's plays were the senex iratus, or "angry old man", the domineering parent who tries to thwart his son or daughter from achieving wedded happiness, and who is often led into the same vices and follies for which he has reproved his children,the bragging soldier who talked about the number of enemies he killed and how well they'll treat their woman and the kind shrewd prostitute who hid her heart behind a facade of fierce commercialism. Menander gave stereotype characters a sense that they were character types. In his comedies, they were expected to react the way they were supposed to behave but some resist. These stock characters appear as rich unlayered humans in a new dimension. It was this human dimension that was one of the strengths of Menander's plays. He used these stereotype characters to comment on human life and depict human folly and absurdity compassionately, with wit and subtlety. An example of such a character is Cnemon from Menander's play Dyskolos. He was an insufferably rude and objectionable character who showed how foolish and absurd humans could be. However rude and objectionable he was, he proved ultimately to be a character who was not necessarily closed to reason. He accepted that other views were possible, proving willing to compromise with life after he was rescued from a well. The fact that this character was not necessarily closed to reason makes him a character whom people can give compassion to. For the first time, love became a principal element in the drama. The new comedy depicted Athenian society and the social morality of the period, presenting it in attractive colors but making no attempt to criticize or improve it.[citation needed] The New Comedy influenced much of Western European literature, primarily through Plautus: in particular the comic drama of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, Congreve, and Wycherley.[6] The 5-act structure later to be found in modern plays can first be seen in Menander's comedies. Where in comedies of previous generations there were choral interludes, there was dialogue with song. The action of his plays had breaks, the situations in them were conventional and coincidences were convenient, thus showing the smooth and effective development of his plays. Much of contemporary romantic and situational comedy descends from the New Comedy sensibility, in particular generational comedies such as All in the Family and Meet the Parents.

Dramatists[edit] Some dramatists overlap into more than one period. Old Comedy[edit] Susarion of Megara (fl. c. 580 BC) Epicharmus of Kos (fl. between c. 540 – c. 450 BC) Phormis (late 6th century) Dinolochus (fl. 487 BC) Euetes (fl. 485 BC) Euxenides (fl. 485 BC) Mylus (fl. 485 BC) Chionides (fl. 487 BC) Magnes (fl. 472 BC) Cratinus (519 – 422 BC), won a series of victories from 454 BC to 423 BC Euphonius (fl. 458 BC) Crates (fl. c. 450 BC) Ecphantides Pisander Epilycus Callias Schoenion[7] Hermippus (fl. 435 BC) Myrtilus (5th century) Lysimachus Hegemon of Thasos, 413 BC Sophron Phrynichus, won 4 victories between 435 BC and 405 BC Lycis, before 405 BC Leucon Lysippus Eupolis (c. 446 – 411 BC) Aristophanes (c. 456–386 BC), won more than 12 victories between 427 BC and 388 BC Ameipsias (c. 420 BC)[8] Aristomenes, between 431-388 BC Telecleides 5th century BC Pherecrates 420 BC Plato Diocles of Phlius[9] Sannyrion[10] Philyllius, 394 BC Hipparchus Archippus, 415 BC Polyzelus, c. 364 BC Philonides Xenophon Arcesilaus Autocrates Eunicus 5th century BC Apollophanes c. 400 BC Nicomachus, c. 420 BC Cephisodorus 402 BC[11] Metagenes, c. 419 BC Cantharus 422 BC[12] Nicochares (died c. 345) Strattis (c. 412 – 390 BC) Alcaeus, 388 BC Xenarchus, around 393 BC Theopompus Middle Comedy[edit] Nicophon 5th century BC Eubulus early 4th century BC Araros, son of Aristophanes 388, 375 Antiphanes (c. 408-334 BC) Anaxandrides 4th century BC Calliades 4th century BC Nicostratus, son of Aristophanes Phillipus, son of Aristophanes Philetarus c. 390 BC — c. 320 BC Anaxilas, fl. 340 BC[13] Ophelion Callicrates Heraclides Alexis (c. 375 BC – 275 BC) Amphis mid-4th century BC Axionicus Cratinus Junior Eriphus, plagiarist of Antiphanes Epicrates of Ambracia 4th century BC Stephanus, 332 BC Strato Aristophon Sotades Augeas Epippus Heniochus Epigenes Mnesimachus Timotheus Sophilus Antidotus Naucrates Xenarchus Dromo Crobylus, possibly New Comedy, after 324 BC Timocles 324 BC[14] Damoxenus c. 370 BC – 270 BC[15] New Comedy[edit] Eubelus Philippides,[16] 335 BC, 301 BC Philemon of Soli or Syracuse (c. 362–262 BC) Menander (c. 342–291 BC) Apollodorus of Carystus (c. 300-260 BC) Diphilus of Sinope (c. 340-290 BC) Euphron[17] Dionysius Chalcus, after the god Archestratus Theophilus, contemporary with Callimedon Sosippus, contemporary with Diphillus Anaxippus, 303 BC Demetrius, 299 BC Archedicus, 302 BC Sopater, 282 BC Hegesippus Plato Junior Theognetus Bathon Diodorus Machon of Corinth/Alexandria 3rd century BC Poseidippus of Cassandreia (c. 316–250 BC) Laines or Laenes 185 BC Philemon 183 BC Chairion or Chaerion 154 BC

Poets of uncertain date[edit] Lexiphanes (either Middle Comic or New)[citation needed]

See also[edit] Competitions (agon) at the Dionysia (mixed audiences) and Lenaia (local Athens audience only) festivals Cult of Dionysus Phallic processions Theatre of Dionysus

Notes[edit] ^ Aristotle, Poetics, line 1449a: "Comedy, as we have said, is a representation of inferior people, not indeed in the full sense of the word bad, but the laughable is a species of the base or ugly. It consists in some blunder or ugliness that does not cause pain or disaster, an obvious example being the comic mask which is ugly and distorted but not painful." ^ Cf. Trypanis, Greek Poetry from Homer to Seferis, Chapter 4, p. 201 ^ Mastromarco (1994) p. 12 ^ a b Winkler, Martin M. (2001), Classical Myth & Culture in the Cinema, p. 173 ^ ^ The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 1. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 30–31. ^ Archived July 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Won a second prize with his Κόυνος in 423 BC and won a first prize in 414 BC with his Κωμασταί. ^ Archived October 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Archived April 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Archived December 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Archived June 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Sir Edwin Arnold, The Poets of Greece p. 221. ^ Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Wrote two plays, Σύντροφοι and Ἐαυτὸν πενθῶν. Athenaeus quotes one long fragment from the former and one short fragment from the latter. He is comtempoary with Epicurus, who mentions him. Archived May 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Google Books ^

Sources[edit] Brown, Andrew. 1998. "Ancient Greece." In The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Ed. Martin Banham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 441–447. ISBN 0-521-43437-8. Brockett, Oscar G. and Franklin J. Hildy. 2003. History of the Theatre. Ninth edition, International edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0-205-41050-2. Carlson, Marvin. 1993. Theories of the Theatre: A Historical and Critical Survey from the Greeks to the Present. Expanded ed. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-8154-3. Csapo, Eric, and William J. Slater. 1994. The Context of Ancient Drama. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08275-2. Freund, Philip. 2003. The Birth of Theatre. Illustrated ed. Vol 1. of Stage by Stage. London: Peter Owen. ISBN 978-0-7206-1167-0. Janko, Richard, trans. 1987. Poetics with Tractatus Coislinianus, Reconstruction of Poetics II and the Fragments of the On Poets. By Aristotle. Cambridge: Hackett. ISBN 0-87220-033-7. Ley, Graham. 2006. A Short Introduction to the Ancient Greek Theater. Rev. ed. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press ISBN 0-226-47761-4. Olson, S. Douglas, ed. 2007. Broken Laughter: Select Fragments of Greek Comedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-928785-7. Taplin, Oliver. 1993. Comic Angels and Other Approaches to Greek Drama Through Vase-Painting. Oxford: Clarendon Press ISBN 0-19-814797-X. Trypanis, Constantine Athanasius. 1981. Greek Poetry from Homer to Seferis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press ISBN 0-226-81316-9.

Further reading[edit] Cornford, Francis Macdonald, The Origin of Attic Comedy, Cambridge: University Press, 1934. Padilla, Mark William (editor), "Rites of Passage in Ancient Greece: Literature, Religion, Society", Bucknell University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8387-5418-X Rozik, Eli, The roots of theatre : rethinking ritual and other theories of origin, Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, 2002. ISBN 0-87745-817-0

External links[edit] "Aristotle on Comedy" by Malcolm Heath, University of Leeds. BBC Radio 4 "In Our Time" programme on ancient Greek Comedy, Thursday 13 July 2006. Retrieved from "" Categories: Ancient Greek comedyHidden categories: Webarchive template wayback linksWikipedia articles needing clarification from January 2016Wikipedia articles needing style editing from March 2016All articles needing style editingAll articles with unsourced statementsArticles with unsourced statements from January 2010Articles with unsourced statements from January 2014

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