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Joel Lidov


Ancient Greek; Comedy; Mythology; Myth Rationalization; Philosophy


The following work adds another topic to the analysis of ancient Greek comedy. I cite excerpts from Aristophanes, Menander, ancient Greek comic fragments. I cover examples which contain mythological material. I compare them to ancient historiographic, philosophic, and mythographic approaches used by writers such as Hecataeus, Empedocles, Prodicus, Paleaphatus, Euhemerus, Heraclitus the Paradoxographer, and other writers. I am looking for instances of myth criticism, myth rationalization, and myth allegory in the comic material. My research adds another item to the list of ancient comic approaches and shows the prevalence of rationalism in ancient Greek world.

Regardless of time period (Old, Middle, New) ancient Greek comedy contained a variety of mythological references. When isolating all fragments with themes of myth criticism, rationalization and allegory, some observations can be made about each particular comic approach to myth. Myth rationalization was another approach for the comic poets to employ and parody. Scholars have touched upon this topic, but have not treated it in full. According to them the few examples of comic mythological rationalization are found in Middle and New Comedy. Scholars have not designated this trend in ancient Greek Comedy. I will show that ancient Greek comedy as a whole had the tendency to rationalize myths. Mythographic humor was part of comedy from its inception.