Classical Studies
CLA 1-364-2009

Masterpieces of Greek and Roman Theater

Comedy: Greece and Rome to Hollywood

Overview of the Course

Scene from Aristophanes' Birds, Malibu 82.AE.83
Scene from Aristophanes' Birds? J. Paul Getty Museum
Week 1 Aristophanes and Old Comedy
  Background Reading:
Ian Storey, "General Introduction," in Aristophanes I, Trans. Peter Meineck;
J. Boardman, et al., Oxford History of the Classical World, 124-145 (on reserve)
Sallie Goetsch, Introduction to Greek Stagecraft (Didaskalia) features an interactive mask model and a 3D reconstruction of the Theater of Dionysos
Day 1 Introduction to Greek History in the 5th century BCE
Introduction to the Athenian Theater
Day 2 Utopian Fantasy: Aristophanes' Birds (414 BCE)
PM: Doing research on ancient and modern comedy (Jen Rouse); Building webpages (Brooke Bergantzel) Cole Library and Humanities Lab
Day 3 Satirizing the Legal System: Aristophanes' Wasps (422 BCE)
PM: Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush (1925) (95 minutes)
Day 4 Aristophanes, Charlie Chaplin, and the Comic Hero

Comedy terms (definition and example) due at 9:00 a.m.
PM: paper conferences; please bring a hard copy of your paper to the conference


Day 5 Women in Charge: Aristophanes' Lysistrata (411 BCE)

First paper due at 5 p.m. Please upload your paper in Moodle.

Week 2 Menander and Greek New Comedy
  Background Reading:
J.J. Pollitt, Art in the Hellenistic Age, 1-16 (on reserve).
Sander Goldberg, The Making of Menander's Comedy 1-28 (on reserve)
Day 6 AM: Mae West in Goin' to Town (1935)
PM: Gender Bending: Lysistrata and Mae West



Day 7 AM: The Setting of New Comedy: Menander's Dyskolos (Old Cantankerous) (316 BCE)
PM: Dyskolos cont.

Comedy Terms Jeopardy


Day 8 The Characters of New Comedy: Menander's Epitrepontes (The Arbitration) (before 292 BCE)
PM: Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934), starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable

film and partner chosen for Aspects of Comedy Project (please include a one paragraph summary of the film chosen)


Day 9 Menander's Samia (c. 315-309 BCE)
A New Vision of Love: Hellenistic New Comedy and Hollywood Screwball Comedy

PM: paper conferences


Day 10 Theorizing Comedy: Aristotle's Poetics, Chapters 1-18 (died 322 BCE);
Study Guide for Aristotle's Poetics

Paper 2 due at 5 p.m.


Week 3 New Comedy in Rome: Plautus and Terence
  Background Reading:
J. Boardman, et al., Oxford History of the Classical World, 417-437 (on reserve)
Deena Berg and Douglass Parker, "General Introduction," in Plautus and Terence, Five Comedies
John Porter, Roman New Comedy (University of Saskatchewan)
Day 11 Heroic Badness and the Clever Slave: Plautus' Captivi (190s BCE)
PM: Norman McLeod's Monkey Business, starring Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo Marx, Thelma Todd, Rockliffe Fellows (77 minutes)
Day 12 Puns, Jokes, and anarchistic comedy: Plautus and the Marx Brothers
PM: Workshop: Creating the Aspects of Comedy webpages (Brooke Bergantzel) Humanities Lab
Day 13 Loving the Exotic: Plautus' Casina (190's BCE?)
PM: Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1959), starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon (120 minutes)

Aspects of Comedy, Part 1, due at 8:00 p.m. Part 1 introduces your film and explores three aspects of comedy.


Day 14 Comic Patterns in Casina and Some Like It Hot

PM: paper conferences; please bring a copy of your paper to the conference

Day 15 A Tale of Two Brothers: Terence's Eunuch (161 BCE)

Paper 3 due at 5 p.m.
Saturday: Critique of another group's website, due at noon

Week 4 New Comedy in Rome and Hollywood
Day 16 Who to marry?: Terence's Andria (166 BCE)
PM: Comedy, Melodrama, and Gender: Norman Jewison's Moonstruck (1987), starring Cher, Nicholas Cage, and Olympia Dukakis

Aspects of Comedy, Part 2, due at 9:00 p.m. Part 2 concludes your project and explores the other aspects of comedy.

Day 17 Rewriting women in Romantic comedy: Andria and Moonstruck

Critique of another group's website, due at 3:00 p.m.

Day 18 Aspects of Comedy: presentation of websites and wrap-up discussion

Scene from Menander's Epitrepontes
Scene from Menander's Epitrepontes (The Arbitration). Mosaic from Mytilene, late 3rd century CE.

Maintained by: Last Update: April 28, 2013 5:59 pm

Professor John Gruber-Miller
CLA 1-364-2006
Masterpieces of Greek and Roman Theater

©2006 Cornell College; All Rights Reserved