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Nature, Culture, and the Origins of Greek Comedy: A Study of Animal Choruses

Nature, Culture, and the Origins of Greek Comedy: A Study of Animal Choruses

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Kenneth S. Rothwell Jr
Cambridge University Press, 10/23/2006
EAN 9780521860666, ISBN10: 0521860660

Hardcover, 340 pages, 23.5 x 16 x 2.4 cm
Language: English

Aristophanes' Birds, Wasps and Frogs offer the best-known examples of the animal choruses of Greek comedy of the fifth century BC, but sixth-century vase-paintings of men costumed as cocks, bulls and horses indicated that comedies were only the last phase of a longer tradition. This book suggests that although the earlier masquerades may have had ritual origins, they should be seen also as products of the culture of the archaic aristocratic symposium. The animal choruses of the late fifth century may have been conscious revivals of an earlier tradition. Moreover, the animals of comedy were not the predators found in other literary genres; they were, instead, social animals who showed that nature and culture could co-exist. The Birds, which tells the story of a city foundation, also parodies fifth-century philosophical accounts of the origins of human civilization. Also discussed are the Wasps, Frogs and fragments of lost comedies.

1. Komos, symposium, and performance, 2. Animal choruses
the evidence of vase-painting
3. Animals and satyrs in classical Greece
an excursus
4. The literary fragments and Aristophanes
Knights, Wasps, and Frogs
5. Aristophanes' Birds and the rise of civilization
Conclusions
Appendix A
testimonia and fragments of lost comedies
Appendix B
miscellaneous depictions of animals costumes.

' ... a needed contribution to the study of ancient drama ... a complex -and entertaining - perspective of the relationship between culture and nature.' BMCR