Date of Award
It is a commonplace thing nowadays for people to get home from work or school and settle down in front of the television to watch their favorite sitcom. There are numerous ones to choose from, but most of them involve a family or tightly knit group of friends who wander their way through seemingly everyday situations, dealing with them humorously, but in the same way you might expect someone you know to deal with them. We watch these shows, laugh at them, think about them, and sometimes even incorporate phrases and lines we hear from them into our everyday speech - but what we don't realize is that in doing this we are actually participating in a tradition that is over two thousand years old. The Greek dramatic genre called New Comedy, which flourished in the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, featured plots and characters similar to our modern-day sitcoms.
Since the establishment near the end of the 6th century BCE of the annual dramatic festival in Athens, called the Dionysia, Athenians had been very involved with the dramatic productions of their day and were inclined to incorporate ideas from the plays they saw into their own lives. In a time without mass media, theater to the Greeks was the most exciting and influential form of art available, not to mention an important means of sharing ideas with large groups of people. Most of the tragedies presented at this time dealt, on the surface at least, with mythology, and as the scholars Gomme and Sandbach wrote, "the Greeks were often ready to find in what we call their 'mythology' parallels for contemporary behavior." But the plays were also written in such a way that they often addressed current issues facing the Attic population.
Jeppesen, Seth A., "Menander's Samia: A New Translation" (2006). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 709.
Additional FilesHISThonors2006May-Jeppesen-Seth-Movie.mp4 (227880 kB)
Menander's Samia Movie
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Mark L. Damen
Departmental Honors Advisor
Susan O. Shapiro