COLLOQUIUM: Carl Shaw, New College of Florida, "Early Kômos Songs: Satyric, Pre-comic, and Dithyrambic Performance"

Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

Satyr drama was instituted at the City Dionysia around the end of the sixth century BCE, and comedy was officially introduced approximately twenty years later, in 486. But both genres have a rich and interconnected history prior to their official introduction at the Athenian festival.  The first part of this talk examines the origins of comedy and satyr drama, tracing their pre-dramatic and proto-dramatic evolution in Attica, the Isthmus, and the Argolid. Material evidence and the historical record suggests that satyric and pre-comic performances overlapped as they developed out of and alongside dithyrambic kômos-song, and all three forms became progressively more differentiated as they were established at the Athenian City Dionysia. In the second section, I will turn to Pratinas' famous hyporcheme, a choral lyric that exhibits some of the humor and generic fluidity of pre-comic, satyric performance around the end of the sixth century. Performing early in the organization of the City Dionysia, Pratinas’ chorus of satyrs employ elements associated with comedy, satyr drama, and dithyramb, but they also distinguish their performance from the new theatrical dithyramb, thereby differentiating khoros from kômos.