Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of The Birth of Comedy

The Birth of Comedy

Texts, Documents, and Art from Athenian Comic Competitions, 486–280

edited by Jeffrey Rusten
translated by Jeffrey Henderson, David Konstan, Ralph Rosen, Jeffrey Rusten, and Niall W. Slater

Publication Date
Binding Type

A comprehensive look at all aspects of classical Greek comedy.

Aside from the well-known plays of Aristophanes, many of the comedies of ancient Greece are known only through fragments and references written in Greek. Now a group of distinguished scholars brings these nearly lost works to modern readers with lively English translations of the surviving texts.

The Birth of Comedy brings together a wealth of information on the first three generations of Western comedy. The translations, presented in chronological order, are based on the universally praised scholarly edition in Greek, Poetae Comici...

A comprehensive look at all aspects of classical Greek comedy.

Aside from the well-known plays of Aristophanes, many of the comedies of ancient Greece are known only through fragments and references written in Greek. Now a group of distinguished scholars brings these nearly lost works to modern readers with lively English translations of the surviving texts.

The Birth of Comedy brings together a wealth of information on the first three generations of Western comedy. The translations, presented in chronological order, are based on the universally praised scholarly edition in Greek, Poetae Comici Graeci, by R. Kassel and C. A. Austin. Additional chapters contain translations of texts relating to comedy at dramatic festivals, staging, audience, and ancient writers on comedy. The main text is supplemented by an introduction assessing the fragments' contributions to the political, social, and theatrical history of classical Athens and more than forty illustrations of comic scenes, costumes, and masks. A glossary of komoidoumenoi—the ancient word for "people mentioned in comedies"—provides background information on the most notorious comic victims. A full index includes not only authors, play titles, and persons mentioned, but themes from the whole Greek comic sphere (including politics, literature and philosophy, celebrities and social scandals, cookery and wine, sex, and wealth).

Reviews

Reviews

A unique resource for the serious study of comedy, this book is vast in scope and of incalculable value for those who do not read Greek.

This book is a landmark, which has come to stay.

This volume, which is aimed at general readers... and whose generous dimensions rival the size of an Oxford Classical Dictionary, will be an essential resource for anyone who wants to inquire into what is known of Athenian comedy beyond the surviving plays of Aristophanes and Menander... Rusten offers a concise and balanced account.

The Birth of Comedy is a singularly ambitious and very welcome work.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
7
x
10
Pages
816
ISBN
9781421421186
Illustration Description
42 halftones, 1 line drawing
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Symbols and Abbreviations
Introduction
Fragments of Comedy
Principles of This Selection
How to Use This Book
List of Translators and Sections
Plays and Fragments

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Symbols and Abbreviations
Introduction
Fragments of Comedy
Principles of This Selection
How to Use This Book
List of Translators and Sections
Plays and Fragments of Special Interest
Sources of the Comic Fragments
A Short History of Athenian Comedy
Attested Dates of Athenian Comedies, 486–280 BCE
Part I. Beginnings
1. Proto-Comedy
2. Epicharmus of Sicily
Part II. Athenian Old Comedy
Introduction
3. Festivals, Competitions, and Victory Lists
4. The First and Second Generations (except Cratinus)
5. Cratinus
6. Eupolis
7. Aristophanes
8. Phrynichus and Platon
9. Other Authors, ca. 420–390 BCE
10. Theater, Audience, Actors, Chorus, and Costume of Old and Middle Comedy
11. Scenes from Old or Middle Comedy on Fourth-Century South Italian Vases
Part III. Middle Comedy
Introduction
12. Anaxandrides, Eubulus, and Ephippus
13. Antiphanes
14. Timocles and Nicostratus
15. Alexis
16. Other Authors
Part IV. Athenian New Comedy
Introduction
17. Masks, Actors, Staging, and Scenes from New Comedy
18. Philemon
19. Menander
20. Diphilus of Sinope
21. Other Authors
Epilogue
22. Survival of Comedy in Hellenistic Greece and Republican and Imperial Rome
23. Ancient Theories of Comedy and Laughter, and Ancient Writers on Comedy
Komoidoumenoi
Bibliography
Illustration Credits
Index

Author Bios
Jeffrey Henderson
Featured Contributor

Jeffrey Henderson

Jeffrey Henderson is the William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Greek Language and Literature at Boston University.
Featured Contributor

Ralph Rosen

Ralph Rosen is the Vartan Gregorian Professor of the Humanities and Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Featured Contributor

Niall W. Slater

Niall W. Slater is the Dobbs Professor of Latin and Greek at Emory University.