Lecture 7 Laughing at Plautus: Roman Comedy

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Greek New Comedy and Menander

-Hellenistic cosmopolitan world (death of Alexander)
-Alexander: leading writer, more than 100 plays papyri discoveries complete play, and remains of others

Conventions of New Comedy:

Plot: Domestic life
Setting: Athens
Stock Characters: Young man, old man, male slave, old woman, prostitute, nurse, young woman

Etruscan Dancers

Imported to Rome because of pestilence

Mimes

-improvised sketches, annual performances Floralia
-celebrity actresses performed
-Literary Mimes

Atellan Farces

-Also called Oscan Games
-Baffoonish comedy, rude jokes

Plautus (name and background)

-Titus Maccius Plautus
-Born in Sarsina (blackwater), not of elite class

Characteristics of Plautine Drama

-Role of Clever Slave: a main character that often drives the plot
-Extravagent Language: repetitive mock elegant, mock heroic, mock everything
-Names of Characters: ironic or representational, gives the banker a name that means silver hater
-Invented Words:whip-resistors, teeth crackers

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