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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the development of political and domestic themes and types of comedy in the fourth century from their origins in the fifth and finds both variety and continuity, though often sporadic, over the traditional Old–Middle boundary. Incidental mockery and abuse, a component of virtually all types of comedy, continues strong, while sustained political engagement, traceable from the 430s to ca. 300, is relatively rare in all periods and apparently confined to moments of populist ascendancy. In the fourth century, there is greater emphasis on the private lives of celebrities (especially the wealthy), including non-Athenians, giving fresh prominence to hetaira-comedy, a type poised between domestic and political. By contrast, domestic comedies were rare in the fifth but increasingly prominent in the fourth, hetaira- and (naturalized) myth-comedy playing formative roles, until domestic plots begin to dominate ca. 350.

Keywords: continuity, domestic comedy, fifth century, hetaira-comedy, fourth century, myth-comedy, non-Athenians, political comedy, populism, wealth

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