Unformatted text preview: Laughing at Plautus: Roman Comedy
Origins of Ancient Comedy komos festival with processions and songs in honor of a god (Dionysus) Aristotle (Poetics 1449a 10) "from the prelude to the phallic songs" "music, drinking, and sex" Attic Old Comedy (two annual civic festivals City Dionysia and Lenaea) Aristophanes (ca. 455-385 B.C.E.) Athenian 11 plays extant (Peace, Knights) satire of politicians (Cleon); philosophers (Socrates); playwrights (Euripides) chorus often fantastic (Birds, Wasps, Frogs, Clouds, and Lysistrata) Greek New Comedy Hellenistic cosmopolitan world (death of Alexander) Menander (ca. 344-292 B.C.E.) leading writer, more than 100 plays papyri discoveries; complete play (Dyskolos), remains of others (Samia) Conventions of Greek New Comedy Setting (Athens), Stage (two or three houses) and Plot (domestic life) cultural realities of Hellenistic world conflict in comic drama: (1) generational; (2) gender; and (3) social stock characters young man (adulescens), old man (senex), male slave (servus) young woman (virgo), old woman (matrona), female slave (ancilla), prostitute (meretrix) foreign soldiers (Latin miles gloriosus), pimps, parasites, moneylenders, cooks and eunuchs masks ("frowning foreheads, beetling brows and trumpet mouths" Barsby) tunics, short cloak (pallium), colors, headdress, hair, footware prologue; formal five-act division (choral interludes) Origins and Nature of Roman Comedy Etruscan performers (Etruscan ister = Latin histrio actor) "histrionics" imported to Rome because of pestilence in 364 B.C.E (Livy Book 7.2) Atellan farce (fabula Atellana) town in Campania (Oscan) Bucco (fool); Dossenus (glutton); Pappus (old goat); Maccus (clown) mime (mimus) improvised sketches; annual performances Floralia 173 B.C.E. actresses performed (Cytheris, lover of Mark Antony); literary mimes two main kinds of Roman "literary" comedies (1) drama in Greek dress pallium (fabula palliata) 27 plays plots derived from Greek originals; "Roman details sometimes intrude" only type of Roman comedies extant: plays of Plautus and Terence (2) drama in Roman dress (fabula togata) none extant Name, Birthplace and Life of Plautus MACCIVSPLAVTVS (medieval manuscript reading) Titus Maccius Plautus "R. Harpoe Clownshoes III (just call me `Dick')" born in Sarsina (Umbrian town) "whole area was a backwater" ca. 254-186 B.C.E. fictitious biography (theater, slave experiences) 21 plays according to M. Terentius VARRO Characteristics of Plautine Drama (1) prominent role of the clever slave Tranio (The Haunted House) Alexander the Great, Agathocles king of Sicily Chrysalus (Bacchis Sisters) general who sacks Troy (2) extravagant language of Plautus "Plautus is repetitive, mock-elegant, mock-heroic, mock-everything" Segal alliteration (mali maeroris montem maxumum ad portum modo) difficulty of translating puns names of character (Chrysalus, Transoceanus) Iran Man (Persa) by Amy Richlin Bowman (Toxilus); Fat Jack (Saturio); Brain Muffin (Sophoclidisca); Georgia Moon (Lemniselenis); Cherry (Virgo) invented words: "whip-resisters"; "teeth-crackers"; "nut-crackers" "pasta-eating barbarian workmen" "foolish-speaking" i.e. dumbass Greek culture Latin verb "congraecari" "to Greek it up" verse and lyrical passages (cantica) Broadway musicals Carol Channing (Hello Dolly) and Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof) cantica as rhymed rap listening to Public Enemy Can you shut up? Can you quit your naggin? I'm with it! I'm cool! So stop your raggin. popularity of Plautus; revivals; end of fabula palliata Comic Descendants Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors (ca. 1591) Ben Johnson, The Case is Altered (ca. 1597) modern television situation-comedies (sit-coms) I Love Lucy (1951-1957) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum film 1966 ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course CLASSIC 20 taught by Professor Gurval during the Spring '00 term at UCLA.
- Spring '00