Some of the best evidence for the early development of literary
criticism before Plato and Aristotle comes from Athenian Old
Comedy. Playwrights such as Eupolis, Cratinus, Aristophanes and
others wrote numerous comedies on literary themes, commented on
their own poetry and that of their rivals, and played around with
ideas and theories from the contemporary intellectual scene. How
can we make use of the evidence of comedy? Why were the comic poets
so preoccupied with questions of poetics? What criteria emerge from
comedy for the evaluation of literature? What do the ancient
comedians' jokes say about their own literary tastes and those of
their audience? How do different types of readers in antiquity
evaluate texts, and what are the similarities and differences
between 'popular' and 'professional' literary criticism? Does Greek
comedy have anything serious to say about the authors and texts it
criticizes? How can the comedians be related to the later
literary-critical tradition represented by Plato, Aristotle and
subsequent writers? This book attempts to answer these questions by
examining comedy in its social and intellectual context, and by
using approaches from modern literary theory to cast light on the
Bristol Classical Press
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