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Laughter on the FringesThe Reception of Old Comedy in the Imperial Greek World$
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Anna Peterson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190697099

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190697099.001.0001

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A Menandrian Interlude

A Menandrian Interlude

Alciphron and Old Comedy in Epistolary Form

Chapter:
(p.143) A Menandrian Interlude
Source:
Laughter on the Fringes
Author(s):

Anna Peterson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190697099.003.0006

Alciphron’s collection of 123 fictional letters recreate in miniature the world of Menandrian New Comedy. Three of these letters, however, involve a basic scenario that is reminiscent of Clouds: disputes between a father and son and, in one case, a hetaira and her lover, regarding the corrupting influence of philosophers. Language borrowed directly from Aristophanes’s play further cements this connection. In this context, Old Comedy is subsumed into a New Comic context, and Clouds emerges as a literary shorthand for denoting corrupt philosophers. Yet the epistolary format also provides Alciphron with a way to recreate the dramatic elements of the original play: his readers are given unfettered access to the characters and are asked to fill in what is left unsaid by the letter from their knowledge of Aristophanes’s play.

Keywords:   Alciphron, Menander, Clouds, epistolography, hetairai

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