Reasons to be Cheerful: Theorising Comedy with Aristophanes and Menander (PGT) CLASSIC5104

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

From the surreal satire of Aristophanes to the situation comedy of Menander, this course investigates the nature and context of ancient Greek humour, relating it both to modern traditions of comedy and a range of theoretical perspectives.  


2x1hr seminars per week over 10 weeks

Requirements of Entry

Standard Entry at Masters at College Level

Excluded Courses





Essay (3000 words) - 60%

Review of a theoretical approach (1000 words) - 20%

Review of a critical discussion of a play or plays (1000 words) - 20%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Familiarise students with a selection of Greek comedy from synchronic and diachronic perspectives

■ Enable students to discuss ancient humour within its original context

■ Familiarise students with a range of theories of humour and the comic in the Western tradition

■ Enable the students to relate ancient komoidia to modern categories of humour

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify the formal characteristics of Greek comedy and compare its two main variants (Old and New Comedy).

■ Relate the texts to their social, cultural and political context

■ Explain the principal theories of comedy, ancient and modern

■ Develop their own arguments about the nature of the comic

■ Use and critique comparative strategies in approaching ancient humour

■ Evaluate, through written argument and discussion of the set texts, critical approaches to humour and comedy

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.