Nonsense and Meaning in Ancient Greek Comedy

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Cambridge University Press, Jun 12, 2014 - History - 208 pages
This book examines the concept of 'nonsense' in ancient Greek thought and uses it to explore the comedies of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. If 'nonsense' (phluaria, lēros) is a type of language felt to be unworthy of interpretation, it can help to define certain aspects of comedy that have proved difficult to grasp. Not least is the recurrent perception that although the comic genre can be meaningful (i.e. contain political opinions, moral sentiments and aesthetic tastes), some of it is just 'foolery' or 'fun'. But what exactly is this 'foolery', this part of comedy which allegedly lies beyond the scope of serious interpretation? The answer is to be found in the concept of 'nonsense': by examining the ways in which comedy does not mean, the genre's relationship to serious meaning (whether it be political, aesthetic, or moral) can be viewed in a clearer light.
 

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Contents

Greek notions of nonsense
16
riddles allegories metaphors
52
the case of Cinesias
87
jokes puns and language play
118
comedys nonsense accusations
161
Conclusions
187
General index
205
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About the author (2014)

Stephen E. Kidd is Assistant Professor in Classics at Brown University, Rhode Island. He has published articles on Greek comedy as well as other topics like ancient dreams and games. His research interests center broadly around the role of play in ancient life and how such play affects modes of interpretation and evaluation.

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