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Greek Comedy

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Tonya Howe

on 30 January 2014

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Transcript of Greek Comedy

Greek Comedy
Little is known about the origins of comedy
Ribald processions in honor of Dionysus
Padding exaggerated the body
Strange satyr choruses with bizarre costumes
Athenian komoidia (revel-song)
Komoidia became mainstream comedy through much the same process as tragedy
dancing/singing alternated with dialogue

masks and costumes

ritual origins: phallus

Part of the civic calendar, like tragedy,
Became mainstream when incorporated into the City Dionysia, along with tragedy (choregos, prizes, etc)
exaggerates the "unpretty features of humanity" (33)
masks and costumes are grotesque, "uglified"
old stories might be burlesqued, or plots address the present for satirical purposes
highly metatheatrical
where tragedy emphasizes the general, deals with idealized characters, set in the mythic past, emphasizes heroic struggle, comedy
comedy also "'knows what is just'" (36)
often parodies tragedy,
and addresses itself to the present
aware of its connection to reality but NOT REALISTIC
Old Comedy:
New Comedy:
subplots with comic types (43)
structurally neatened (5-ish acts, divided by songs)
allegorical plots dropped
fantastical, bizarre plots dropped, costuming more restrained
focus on the household, the "middle-class" household especially
set in the "real world"
love stories, ending with marriage
"For better or for worse, the exuberant, gross, metatheatrical, and wildly unpredictable comedy of Aristophanes became sober and tasteful and domesticated. All that sex and obscenity were excluded, the costume-padding reduced, the phallus gradually made less conspicuous until it was concealed completely.... [C]omedy took over much of [tragedy's] territory, especially the exploration of family conflict." (43-44)
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