White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Aristotelian Comedy

Heath, M. (1989) Aristotelian Comedy. Classical Quarterly, 39 (2). pp. 344-354. ISSN 0009-8388


Download (262Kb)


This paper examines the evidence for Aristotle's theory of comedy in the Poetics and other works. Since he defines comedy in terms of its 'inferior' characters, he cannot have objected in principle to ethical impropriety, obscenity and personal abuse in comedy; comedy cannot be judged by the ethical standards appropriate in everyday life. His account of the historical development of comedy is discussed, together with the application of the concept of poetic universality to comedy. It is argued that Aristotelian theory is consistent with Aristophanic practice.

My aim in this paper is to reconsider a number of aspects of Aristotle’s thinking on comedy in the light of the acknowledged Aristotelian corpus. I shall have nothing to say about the Tractatus Coislinianus, an obscure and contentious little document which must (despite Janko’s energetic attempt to restore its credit) remain an inappropriate starting-point for discussion. There is still, I believe, something to be learnt from the extant works.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 1989 The Classical Association. This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Classical Quarterly following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version can be found in Classical Quarterly 39(2) (1989), 344-54.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > Classics (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2005
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 10:18
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/522

Actions (repository staff only: login required)