After a preface devoted to the poet, his works, his reputation in antiquity, and the nature of the surviving material, the introduction clarifies the book's methodology. Unlike traditional ways of addressing fragmentary comedy, Cratinus and the Art of Comedy does not merely reconstruct plays or texts, but draws on a range of hermeneutic frameworks and adopts a thematic approach, which offers a means to explore the author's poetics. The introduction further addresses the problem of the ‘shadow’ of Aristophanes, the only author of the period for whom whole plays survive, and suggests ways in which the extant comedies might be used in a productive way while avoiding the distortion caused by superimposing Aristophanes on a fragmentary poet like Cratinus. It closes by discussing earlier scholarship on Cratinus.
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