The chapter begins with a short overview of the history, structure, and themes of the commentary on Terence composed by the grammarian Aelius Donatus. The main discussion explores the audience and purposes of the commentary, showing that the scholia on delivery, language style, and stage movement reveal the multidimensional spectrum of readers’ interests, ranging from techniques of rhetoric to analyses of comic action. Following from scholia on gesture, the chapter refers to the challenging question of possible echoes of theater. A parallel study with the illustrated Terence manuscripts shows that both sources reflect a certain interest in staging. Donatus’s observations on performance confirm that he and his readers treat Terence’s comedy not simply as a literary but also as a dramatic genre. The concluding comparison with Eugraphius accentuates the multifaceted nature of the commentary.
Donald G. Kyle
Animal events, shows and hunts of beasts (venationes), were prominent, popular, and enduring Roman entertainments. Modern debates concerning ecology and animals have increased interest, and more works are focusing on the significance of beast shows for Roman culture and society. Historically, Rome’s beast events combined native and foreign traditions as Roman power spread abroad. Displays of exotic beasts, often in triumphs, were expanded into combats against hunters (venatores). Under the empire even more elaborate beast spectacles were housed in the Colosseum. Related in origin to hunting, Rome’s public abuse of beasts was not unique but it became distinctive in terms of scale, geographical scope, and stagecraft. Animal events remained highly significant for the empire as a territorial dominion, for the emperor as protector and patron, and for the citizens and culture of Rome as empowered and privileged).
Animals of all types, be these domestic or wild, native or exotic, were routinely required for spectacles and events in the Graeco-Roman world, most notably, perhaps, in the context of the amphitheatre games of Roman antiquity. Behind such events, however, lay networks involved in the capture, transport, and supply of these animals. The integration of ancient textual, iconographical, and archaeological (including zooarchaeological) evidence provides the requisite data to investigate these aspects. Available ancient textual and artistic evidence suggest that soldiers and professional hunters, assisted by civilians and natives as required or demanded, undertook many of these tasks. Guilds or professional organizations of wild beast hunters and merchants provided further administrative, technical, financial, and transport assistance. Equipment involved in capturing the animals varied depending upon factors such as the size, age, or ferocity of the animal, but included a range of nets, cages, and traps, among other methods. Extrapolation from more modern practices, however, suggests that baiting and ambushing, arguably somewhat less noble or brave tactics, likely characterized much of exotic animal capture in antiquity. Treatment for many of these animals, in transit to their final destination, was probably poor; large numbers certainly perished during transport or while in captivity. Available zooarchaeological evidence helps locate exotic animal bones across different contexts in the ancient Graeco-Roman world, including beasts presumably involved in amphitheatre games, but also provides tempering evidence to downplay the magnitude of numbers actually supplied to such events, as is attested in ancient textual and iconographical data.
The year 1973 saw the publication of the first comprehensive collection of comic papyri, Colin Austin's Comicorum Graecorum Fragmenta in Papyris Reperta (CGFP). This appendix summarizes all the fragments of Greek comedy written on papyri that have since been published. Part I introduces the material and illustrates some ways in which these new papyri have enriched our understanding of ancient comedy. The synoptic chart that comprises Part II presents the new papyri one by one.
This chapter offers an overview of Aristophanes based on current research. Specific features of Aristophanes’s language, his metrics, and the structures of his comedies are analyzed; these contribute to a more general understanding of his use of comic techniques, their implicit poetics, and the political function of his plays.
The ritual ordeal of the athlete re-enacts the ordeals of the warrior, and, like heroic deeds, athletic activity compensates for the athlete’s mortality as the athlete figuratively dies a ritual death in recurrent festivals. The origin of athletics is related both to initiation and to funeral games, and real or symbolic death and rebirth is common to both activities. Epinikian songs refer to those done ‘in compensation for’ (epi) the ordeal involved in winning the victory. Epinician songs also in a sense depict the community’s welfare as being contingent on the reciprocity of aristocratic exchange, and also related to revelry. The non-recurrent agōn occurs in Homeric epic, including gymnic and musikos events (recitation of epics and hymns). Later seasonally recurring festivals became the dominant form. The Panathenaia features the ‘art of the Muses’ among its events, namely rhapsodic contests in the reading of Homer. The apobatēs event in the Panathenaia serves as an evocative link between Homeric heroes in combat and the contestants in armour jumping from chariots in the Athenian games.
Wendy J. Raschke
The monuments created by the Greeks to celebrate victories were of many kinds, as were the victories celebrated. The focus of the present discussion is monuments associated with success in the major athletic games; these were usually in the form of free-standing statues erected in the sanctuary where the games took place. Some fundamental questions are addressed, not least, what the idea of a monument signified to the Greeks? Who qualified for this extraordinary honour? What form did it typically take and how much did it cost to create? Were the statues erected merely a reward? Or did they also have political value which affected the choice of location? In ancient Greece, as now, athletic monuments stood as markers of glory achieved, but also as statements to the viewer.
David M. Pritchard
In Classical Athens athletics consisted of the sporting contests that were staged as part of festivals and the classes of an athletics teacher. Lessons in the standard sporting events were given only by these teachers, whose classes doubled up as the sole opportunity for boys and men to perfect them before competing in games. Thus the participation of individuals in athletics depended on their schooling. Because the Classical Athenians decided against publicly funding education, they did not enjoy equal access to it. Poor citizens could afford only the lessons of a letter teacher. It was only wealthy boys who were educated in the three traditional disciplines of athletics, music, and letters. As poor Athenians did not attend the classes of an athletics teacher, they would have done badly, if they entered games, and so were hesitant about doing so in the first place. Thus the athletes of democratic Athens came exclusively from the wealthy.
Peter G. McC. Brown
This chapter examines the early development of ludi scaenici (dramatic festivals) at Rome and the introduction there of fabulae palliatae (the type of drama now known as Roman comedy) by Livius Andronicus and Naevius after the end of the First Punic War. Various types of performance have been thought to be precursors of Roman comedy, and their relevance is discussed: Athenian comedies, Rhinthon's mythological burlesques, Atellan farces, Fescennine verses, mimes, and satyr plays. Livy's account of the origins of drama at Rome in Book 7 is scrutinized. The importance of Etruria as a conduit for some types of Greek drama is considered, as well as more direct channels of possible Greek influence. It is emphasized that much guesswork is involved in reconstructing the background to the beginnings of Roman comedy but that Livius Andronicus's adaptation of Greek plays for performance in Latin marked a radically new departure.
This chapter discusses the twenty-one Roman comedies of T. Maccius Plautus in the light of two predominantly competing modern paradigms, here called the "Saturnalian" and the "Hellenistic." Following a conventional list of Plautus's titles, Greek models, and date or festival occasions where known, discussion turns to the nature of Latin comoedia, which is not merely an adaptation (vorsio, "version") of Greek New Comedy but a highly musical adaptation of it across languages. Parallel texts of Menander (Dis Exapaton, an anonymous fragment) and Plautus (Bacchides, Pseudolus) illustrate the extent and effects of Plautus's alterations. The chapter concludes with a sketch of the genesis, axioms, and assumptions underpinning the contemporary "War of the Paradigms" that divides those scholars who envision Plautus as working within the Hellenistic tradition of Greek comedy from those who imagine him largely indifferent to it. Sample texts trace the origin of the split to minor verbal ambiguities.
Peter J. Holliday
The circus was the grandest of all sites in antiquity for public spectacles. Focusing on the development of its form reveals its origins in Greek hippodromes and Etruscan arenas for equestrian competitions. It was essentially a long, narrow racetrack designed primarily for chariot-races, but could accommodate all manner of other spectacles, including foot-races, boxing, and wrestling; because of its size and sightlines, the circus was also the most frequent location for venationes, but eventually less commonly for munera and theatrical entertainments. Following Greek and Etruscan custom, leading Roman citizens had once raced their own horses in the circus, but the practice was abandoned and the elite instead competed for esteem by sponsoring races. With its immense and diverse audiences, the circus came to serve specifically Roman religious and political purposes, and played an unrivalled role in the public life of ancient Rome.
Nathan T. Elkins
The evidence provided by coins has not been systematically incorporated in studies of ancient sport and spectacle. Coins are a source material as important as other documentary and visual sources; arguably, they are potentially of even greater importance, since coins constitute a more complete visual record than any other surviving form of ancient art. Students of sport and spectacle that will benefit most from numismatics are those who grapple with questions about identity, perception, and political expediency in the ancient games. This contribution explores the different ways in which sport and spectacle were referred to on Greek and Roman coins. In the Greek world, city-states referred to festivals and athletics on their coins to announce their identities, whether through the depiction of Panhellenic festivals, local competitions, or the renowned athletes to which they were home. Even under Roman rule, coins of the Greek cities made reference to games in this way. In the Roman republic and empire, coin designs dealt more with the ideological agenda of the authority behind the production of coins (e.g., republican moneyer, late republican triumvir, or the emperor). As a result, depictions of games tended to reflect political expediency. For instance, some republican moneyers promised to hold games if elected to the aedileship and some emperors commemorated their sponsorship of and provisioning for games. Many coins that celebrated certain festivals or construction work on entertainment buildings may have been produced for special distributions, perhaps at the festivals or dedicatory games in question.
This chapter provides an overview of the uses and structural history of the Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre constructed in the Roman world. Romans knew it as the ‘Amphitheatrum Flavium’, after the dynasty of emperors responsible for its construction. It continued in use even after the fall of Rome, with games still popular into the sixth century. The chapter examines the evidence for naumachiae during the inaugural games and concludes that it is most unlikely that the Colosseum area was flooded to a practical depth. It also reviews the evidence for the accommodation of spectators and its reflection of Roman society.
The private art of violent Greek and Roman competitions shows iconic moments commemorated by ordinary fans and a wealthy elite. The depictions assume a viewer who understands the rules and identifies with fighters, spectators, or sponsors. Greek combat sports were associated with individual achievement and persistence through pain. Equal combatants, idealized and indistinguishable in Archaic and Classical art, fought nude for personal and regional glory, overseen by a referee. Hellenistic art introduced fighters whose battered faces declared personal suffering the price of victory. Roman public combatants were degraded by competition, although ennobled by martial valour, as were gladiators who willingly faced death. In the arena, differently equipped combatants were paired as fighting ‘types’. Ordinary art emphasized action and equipment. The art of the wealthy also referenced the sponsor, who decided the terms of victory and loss. The gazes of referees and combatants turned toward him; in real life, he interacted with the audience about the outcome, and they praised his public benefaction.
Aristotle remarks in The Parts of Animals that ‘man is the only animal that laughs’, and comedy, the object of which is to produce laughter, is a particularly human phenomenon. As such, it is also deeply conditioned by culture: who laughs, what is laughed at, and why. These questions take on a special saliency, moreover, in the unusual context of a state-sponsored institution of comic drama that existed in classical Athens. This article suggests that interpreting these works may shed light on ancient Greek ideology and society. Modern performances, for example, may inform people not only about problems of staging, in itself an important and still-open area for scholarship, but also about the reception of ancient comedy, which in turn has very largely conditioned how the genre is perceived today, despite the ostensibly objective methods of modern philology.
Ioannis M. Konstantakos
Comedies burlesquing traditional Greek mythical stories flourished in the Athenian theater especially between 400 and 340 BCE. Antecedents are found already in fifth-century drama (Cratinus’s Odysses, Aristophanes’s tragic parodies); the roots of the genre lie in popular tradition and folk religiosity. Comic poets developed a series of interrelated techniques in order to transform myth into comic spectacle. They regularly refashioned the mythical tales according to the model of their contemporary Athenian society (“Atticization”). The marvelous motifs of myths were rationalized or, if retained, were placed in a fully urbanized environment, producing ludicrous incongruity. The mythical material was assimilated to standard patterns of comic drama (stereotyped stage figures, comic love plots, happy endings, and festivities). The traditional mythical scenario was sometimes reversed for comic effect. All these procedures are examined in this chapter, with examples taken from comic fragments and South Italian vase paintings.
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.
Adele C. Scafuro
This chapter discusses trends in the production of fourth-century comedies (revivals, prizes for comic actors), and considers these and other trends through the perspective of an imaginary Athenian theater-goer who, by 305 BCE, had been attending performances for some sixty years; he helps answer questions such as: Did the audience change over the years? Are changes in the style of acting, costumes, and use of masks observable? Or changes in the style of composition (choruses, meters, virtuoso monologues)? Then, in order to provide a firsthand experience of the compositional style of Menander’s near contemporaries (e.g., Alexis, Philemon, Diphilus, Anaxandrides), select passages are presented and discussed; these focus on traditional “stand-up topoi,” where characters quote speeches of others, often using a comic paratactic patter, and sometimes “euripidizing” their speech and situations.
Anne Hrychuk Kontokosta
Inscriptions, dating mostly to the second and third centuries ce, and graffiti offer first-hand perspectives on the lives of gladiators and the organization of Roman spectacles. Examples from throughout the Roman world elucidate how inscribed evidence can fundamentally alter our understanding of gladiatorial contests, related monuments, and key actors. This article focuses on a range of inscriptions associated with distinct groups who were involved in Roman gladiatorial competitions and discusses the types of data that can be acquired from each. Inscribed public and tomb monuments as well as extant edicta demonstrate the contributions of elite sponsors and their role in the patronage of the games. Stelae dedicated by gladiatorial familiae celebrate individual gladiators, their training, and successes over worthy opponents. Epigraphs on tombstones hint at the social realities and daily challenges of gladiators. Graffiti offers multivariate viewpoints on the lived experience of performers and audiences from all social ranks.
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.