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1. Comedy and Democracy

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About this Lecture


Aristotle in his Poetics makes the connection between comedy and democracy, stating that the two cities that claimed to have invented the genre both did so under democratic constitutions. The greatest democracy of the Greek world was that of Athens, and it is not surprise that Aristophanes flourished in the period that Athenian democracy as at its height. But why should this be the case? In this module, we explore the links between comedy and democracy. Why did comedy and democracy make such good bed-fellows?


In this course, Prof. Edith Hall (King's College, London) provides an introduction to the plays of Aristophanes, thinking in particular about the world that Aristophanes lived in and his comic output and focusing in particular on: the link between comedy and democracy, the distinctiveness of Aristophanes as compared to other comic playwrights writing at the same time, the theatrical elements of Old Comedy (music, choreography, costume, etc.), the types of comedy that one finds in the plays themselves, and - finally – the play-world of Aristophanes’ comedies.


Edith Hall is Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University. Her research focuses on ancient Greek literature and cultural history. Some of her major publications include Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy (OUP, 1989), Greek Tragedy: Suffering Under the Sun (OUP, 2010), Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind (Norton, 2014), and Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life (Penguin, 2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hall, E. (2018, August 15). Aristophanes - Comedy and Democracy [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hall, E. "Aristophanes – Comedy and Democracy." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,