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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The nature of our sources does not allow us to reconstruct the spread of comedy from the conquests of Alexander the Great to the beginning of the Roman Empire, either chronologically or geographically. But the available evidence does prove that comedy was no less popular or widely diffused than tragedy in the Greek and Hellenized world. We know of a wide range of comic actors who acted in both new and ancient plays at festivals set up in honor of Dionysus or other deities, according to a practice newly introduced. We also know the names of many comic poets and the titles of numerous comedies, even if we are largely unable to connect these data to any given contest. Nevertheless, though we know that comedy was performed throughout the eastern Mediterranean by members of Dionysiac associations, we have no evidence for a guild of this kind in the western Mediterranean until the first century BCE.

Keywords: spread of comedy, comic actor, poet of comedy, Alexander the Great, Hellenistic times, Roman Empire, eastern Mediterranean, western Mediterranean, Magna Graecia, Sicily, association of the Artists of Dionysus, dramatic festivals

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