The Grouch (Dyskolos) by Menander An Example of Greek New Comedy
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My primary purpose in writing this unit is to give students an understanding of the Greek origins of comic forms seen today on T.V. and in films by providing an historical overview of the festivals of the Greater Dionysia and the Lenaea—the annual theatrical competitions—and Greek Old, Middle, and New Comedy. When students have familiarized themselves with the background material, they can read the summary of the plan provided and then focus on
itself, extracting elements of New Comedy which are readily apparent at the first reading. Menander’s life and a section on the discovery in 1957 of the entire play should enhance their appreciation of this work, and a detailed character study of the protagonist Knemon will afford sone understanding of his plight. Menander’s portrayal of the cooks and slaves will also be discussed. Finally, the mask and costume illustrations at the end of the unit will, it is hoped, stimulate the students’ artistic flair and perhaps inspire a full-scale production of the play or, more simply, a staged reading.