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Satyric Play

Since it was written by tragedians and employed a number of formal tragic elements, satyr drama is typically categorized as a sub-genre of Greek tragedy. This categorization, however, gives an incomplete picture of the complicated relationship of the satyr play to other genres of drama in ancient Greece. For example, the humorous chorus of half-man, half-horse satyrs suggests sustained interaction between poets of comedy and satyr play. In Satyric Play, Carl Shaw notes the complex, shifting relationship between comedy and satyr drama, from sixth-century BCE proto-drama to classical productions staged at the Athenian City Dionysia and bookish Alexandrian plays of the third century BCE, and argues that comedy and satyr plays influenced each other in nearly all stages of their development. This is the first book to offer a complete, integrated analysis of Greek comedy and satyr drama, analyzing the details of the many literary, aesthetic, historical, religious, and geographical connections to satyr drama. Ancient critics and poets allude to comic-satyric associations in surprising ways, vases indicate a common connection to komos (revelry) song, and the plays themselves often share titles, plots, modes of humor, and even on occasion choruses of satyrs. Shaw's insight into this evidence reveals the relationship between satyr drama and Greek comedy to be much more intimately connected than we had known and, in fact, much closer than that between satyr drama and tragedy. Satyric Play brings new light to satyr drama as a complex, artful, inventive, and even cleverly paradoxical genre.
Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Figures ; Abbreviations ; Introduction ; Chapter One: Comedy and Satyr Drama in Plato and Aristotle ; Chapter Two: Early Komos Songs: Satyric, Precomic, and Dithyrambic Performance ; Chapter Three: Sicilian Comedy and the Attic Satyr Play ; Chapter Four: Old Comedy, Classical Satyr Drama, and Euripides' Alcesits ; Chapter Five: Middle Comedy and the "Satyric" Style ; Chapter Six: Post-Classical Satyr Play and Old Comedy ; Conclusion ; References ; Index of Passages ; General Index

About the Author

Carl Shaw is Associate Professor of Ancient Greek Language and Literature at New College of Florida.


While generic relationships have become an important focus in the study of classical Greek theatre, satyr drama, though a partner in the tragic performances, has been relatively neglected. This new study illuminates a vital dimension of satyr drama by tracing its interaction with comedy, both Attic and West-Greek, from the beginnings into Roman times. Original, comprehensive, and engagingly written, Satyric Play will richly reward both newcomers and experienced fans of the genre. * Jeffrey Henderson, Boston University *

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