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date: 11 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the reception of Greek comedy in two genres of the Second Sophistic, tracing the appropriation of comic elements in the erotic novel and fictional epistolography. New Comedy is shown to provide the main thematic and structural matrix for ancient Greek romances, whose character portrayals and plots—with their mix-ups, intrigues, coincidences, and happy endings in marriage—are strongly reminiscent of Menandrian plays. While the novelists mapped the basic scheme of comedy onto extended narratives that move far beyond the spatio-temporal boundaries of drama, Alciphron and other writers of fictional letters have created small sketches that feature comic characters expressing their anxieties and desires, and so recalling the genre of comedy both through direct allusion and the evocation of comedy-like scenarios. The form of the letter itself may be seen as a reflection of the “writtenness” associated with drama’s transition from a performative context to the medium of the book.

Keywords: comedy, reception, novel, romances, epistolography, fictional letters, Second Sophistic, Menander, Alciphron

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