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Aristophanes

  • By: Michael Ewans
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Aristophanes (ca. 447–ca. 380 BCE) is rightly hailed as the “father of comedy” in the West. Only fragments survive of the plays by the other creators of Old Comedy, while 11 out of Aristophanes's known output of 44 comedies survive complete. They are distinguished by a zany, anarchic sense of humor and a combination of witty poetry, satire, political attacks, and obscenity; and they demand a very physical performance style for the many sight gags and lazzi that are implied by the text.

Aristophanes's work was greatly shaped by his times. He lived and wrote at Athens throughout the turbulent period of the Peloponnesian War, which began in 431 BCE and proceeded, with a brief interlude of peace, down to the eventual defeat of Athens in ...

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