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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Philosophers are a natural object of fun and parody, and ancient Greek comedy took full advantage of the possibilities for spoofing their utopian projects, technical language, scientific pretensions, and personal behavior when they could represent it as contradicting their high moral claims. Philosophers, in turn, might be suspicious of comedy’s frivolity, and they attacked it as immoral. But there were also points of contact between the two: philosophers (above all Epicureans) endorsed pleasure, or allowed a place for caricature and fun, and characters in comedy sometimes utter philosophical propositions; besides, comedy itself has a utopian streak. Menander was thought to have studied with Aristotle’s student Theophrastus, and his subtle character sketches find a parallel in philosophical descriptions of virtuous and vicious types. The quarrel between comedy and philosophy thus has aspects of a sibling rivalry. This chapter traces this complex relationship over the evolution from Old Comedy to New.

Keywords: Philosophy, utopia, hedonism, parody, hypocrisy, Socrates, Platonism, Aristotle, Epicurus

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