Myth Rationalization in Ancient Greek Comedy

Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 107 (2):81-100 (2014)
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Ancient Greek comedy takes interesting approaches to mythological narrative. This article analyzes one excerpt and eight fragments of ancient Greek Old, Middle, and New Comedy. It attempts to show a comic rationalizing approach to mythology. Poets analyzed include Aristophanes, Cratinus, Anaxilas, Timocles, Antiphanes, Anaxandrides, Philemon, Athenion, and Comic Papyrus. Comparisons are made to known rationalizing approaches as found in the mythographers Palaephatus and Heraclitus the Paradoxographer. Ancient comedy tends to make jokes about the ludicrous aspects of myth. Early Greek myth rationalization and mythography share a similar approach to comedy in that they attempt to rationalize the improbable parts of myth narrative.

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Alan Sumler
University of Colorado Denver


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