October 20, 2021

A comedy is a theatrical piece or a cinematographic work with themes that are usually light or capable of arousing laughter. The term has taken on various shades of meaning over the centuries, often far removed from the character of comedy. The play, in its written form, originates in Greece in the 5th century BC.

Etymology and meanings

The Greek word κωμῳδία (cōmōdìa), which seems to derive from κῶμος (kômos), "festive procession", and ᾠδή (ōdé), "song", indicates how this form of dramaturgy is the development in a completed form of the ancient propitiatory feasts in honor of Hellenic divinities, with probable reference to the Dionysian cults. Moreover, even the first Roman scenic games were instituted, according to Tito Livio, to ward off a plague by invoking the favor of the gods. However, the hypothesis that the word derives from κῶμη (kômē), "village", and ᾠδή (ōdé), "song", and therefore "village song", should not be excluded, as the festive processions, probably dedicated to the god Bacchus, took place in rural contexts, therefore in the countryside and in the villages. For the fathers of the Italian language, the word indicated a poem that involved a happy ending, and whose style was 'medium': it had to be placed halfway between tragedy and elegy. Dante titled his poem Comedìa, considering instead Virgil's Aeneid a tragedy. In the sixteenth century, the classical comedy was rediscovered, and the meaning was reconnected to the original Greek and Latin one, restricted to the theatrical sphere.

The Greek comedy

The comedy took on an autonomous structure during the Dionysian feasts and fallofòrie. The first theatrical competition between comic authors took place in Athens in 486 BC. In other cities, burlesque forms of spectacle had developed such as the farces of Megara, composed of dances and jokes, and similar shows were held at the court of the tyrant Gerone in Sicily, even if the texts have not been received. According to Aristotle, who in the Poetics attributes the first comic theatrical texts to the Sicilians Formides and Epicarmo, the Syracusan comedy preceded the Attic one. Of Epicarmo we are left with a few fragments of a comic opera (mime).

Periods of Greek comedy

Unlike the Greek tragedy, which began its decline in the years immediately following Euripides' death, the comic genre subsequently continued to maintain its vitality for a long time, surviving until the middle of the third century BC, adapting to political, cultural and social. Ancient commentators therefore distinguished three phases of Greek comedy: ancient comedy (archàia), in the period from its origins to the fourth century BC; middle comedy, up to the beginning of Hellenism (323 BC); New Comedy, which coincides with the Hellenistic age. After this last phase the comic genre did not disappear, but it 'moved' to Rome, within the Latin culture, with the Latin playwrights of palliatae.

Ancient Attic Comedy - Archàia

Its major representative is Aristophanes, the only playwright of this period of Attic comedy whose complete texts have survived. He used fantastic elements and introduced political satire up to personal attack, according to the principle of onomastì komodéin (mocking a person by his name).

Middle Attic Comedy - Month

The Middle Attic Comedy goes from 388 BC. to 321 BC and its major exponents are Antifane, Anassandride and Alessi. In this period the comic theater loses its characteristics of political satire and turns towards "disengaged" comedies. The protagonists are characters inspired by everyday reality, especially the humble. In the middle Attic comedy there is also a comic reversal of the mythological episodes, we can therefore define this comedy "mythological parody".

New Attic Comedy - Nea

The last one

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