Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Unlike tragedy, Old Comedy features a precise starting date, more artistic depictions, later and single-author plays, and an unstable form. This chapter examines the historical and conceptual assumptions underlying competing accounts of its origin(s) and essence. A partial Aristotelian theory of comedy can be deduced from his historical discussion of Old Comedy in the Poetics (laughter, obscenity, and scatology were requisite, political satire and the chorus were not, and Aristophanes was its greatest author). By contrast, in seeking to establish the essence of Old Comedy from the eleven extant plays of Aristophanes, modern scholars have produced many different accounts. Their various results are surveyed and classified according to emphases (metric and dramatic structure, folklore and archetypes, religion and ritual, or genre and parody).

Keywords: Old Comedy, origins, Aristotle, Poetics, Zieliński, Mazon, Süss, Sifakis, Cornford, Bowie, Bierl, Halliwell, Silk, Rosen, Bakola

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.