Note: CNRS 502A is cross-listed with GREK 525B
Until 60 years ago, the history of Greek comedy was defined by Aristophanes, whose eleven surviving plays are the clearest insight into what the Athenians found funny. Only in the 1950s was a single complete play of Menander discovered. The other playwrights survive only in fragments: Cratinus, Crates, Eupolis, Pherecrates, Plato (the funny one), Alexis, Diphilus, Apollodorus – these names are practically unknown today, but they define the development of comedy from the fifth to the third centuries BCE. The scholarly resources to study early comedy are better now than ever before. We will use fragments (surviving on papyrus and in quotations in other authors), inscriptions, vase painting, mosaics, and all other resources available in order to reconstruct the history of Greek comedy beyond the names of Aristophanes and Menander. In doing so we”ll develop a methodology for reconstructing lost plays, we”ll see how unfunny criticism on comedy can actually be, and we”ll discover jokes about fish and the sexual implications of inappropriate lyre tuning.
This course is open to all graduate students interested in ancient theatre, literature, and history. Those who have completed Greek 301 (or its equivalent) may register in GREK 525; all others register in the (almost) Greekless option of CNRS 503, which is also open to students in other departments.
Prerequisites: Graduate standing