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Talking about LaughterAnd Other Studies in Greek Comedy$
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Alan H. Sommerstein

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554195.001.0001

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Monsters, ogres, and demons in Old Comedy

Monsters, ogres, and demons in Old Comedy

(p.155) 7 Monsters, ogres, and demons in Old Comedy
Talking about Laughter

Alan H. Sommerstein (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the portrayal of monsters, ogres, and demons in Sicilian and Attic comedy throughout the 5th century bc. In early comedy and mime (Epicharmus, Sophron, Cratinus, Crates) the monster was typically confronted and vanquished by a mythical hero (often Heracles), and this pattern reappeared in one lost early play of Aristophanes. In Acharnians, however, we meet the politician (Lamachus) as monster, and, far more spectacularly, Cleon a year later in Knights; by Wasps, Aristophanes himself has become the Heracles figure who defeats the giant. In Frogs, on the other hand, uniquely, a monster figure—Aeschylus—is victorious; and meanwhile Aristophanes' contemporary Phrynichus seems to have begun a process of demythologizing and humanizing the monster/demon which eventually led to the antisocial types depicted by Menander (Knemon, Smikrines).

Keywords:   monsters, demons, Epicharmus, Cratinus, Aristophanes, Heracles, Frogs, Menander

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