Tragic Relief: Comedy, Tragedy and Community from Athens to America
Fall, 2001

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Important Announcement!!!!!!
Reading for Week 9, Fall Quarter:  in our translation, Women at the Thesmophoria is called The Poet and the Women

Some provocative quotations...

Be not indignant with me, audience, if, though a beggar, I speak before the Athenians about public affairs in a comedy.  Even comedy is acquainted with justice; and what I have to say will be terrible, but it will be just.
 Aristophanes, Acharnians

Comedy is a representation of people worse than are found in the world - 'worse' in the sense of uglier, as the ridiculous is a species of ugliness.
 Aristotle, Poetics

It is  a very serious thing to be a funny woman.
 Frances Miriam Berry Whitcher

Festive folk laughter presents an element of victory not only over supernatural awe, over the sacred, over death; it also means the defeat of power, of earthly kings, of the earthly upper classes, of all that oppresses and restricts.
 Mikhail Bahktin

In my opinion, if our state does not come to pierce through affects to an evaluation of the world it will contract to a lesser psychiatry and an inexpert one at that.  We shall be confined to writing an Oedipus without the pestilence, an Oedipus whose catastrophe is private and unrelated to the survival of his people, an Oedipus who cannot tear out his eyes because there is not standard by which he can judge himself; an Oedipus, in a word, who on learning of his incestuous marriage, instead of tearing out his eyes, will merely wipe away his tears, thus to declare his loneliness.  Again, where a drama will not engage its relevancy for the race, it will halt at pathos, that tempting shield against ultimate dramatic effect, that counterfeit of meaning.
 Arthur Miller, The Theatre Essays of Arthur Miller

Not only is there no god, but try getting a plumber on the weekends.
 Woody Allen

The basis of Bellow's humor is that the hero is usually someone who has made a complete mess of his life.  This has always been the comic writer's view of humanity.  Tragic heroes complain only to the gods; the comic ones squabble with their families and dream of settling scores with their real and imagined enemies.
 Charles Simic

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