Matthew Wright The Comedian As Critical Thinking

For other people named Steven Wright, see Steven Wright (disambiguation).

Steven Wright

Wright in 1994

Birth nameSteven Alexander Wright
Born(1955-12-06) December 6, 1955 (age 62)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
MediumStand-up, film, television
Years active1978–present
Genressurreal humor, one-liners, deadpan, wit/word play, observational comedy, Musical comedy, Anti-humor

Steven Alexander Wright (born December 6, 1955) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and Oscar-winning film producer. He is known for his distinctly lethargic voice and slow, deadpan delivery of ironic, philosophical and sometimes nonsense jokes, paraprosdokians, non sequiturs, anti-humor, and one-liners with contrived situations.[3]

Wright was ranked as the 15th Greatest Comedian by Rolling Stone in a list of the 50 Greatest Stand-up Comics.[4] His accolades include the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for writing and producing the short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings (1988)[5] and two Primetime Emmy Awards nominations as a producer of Louie (2010–15).[6]

Early life and career[edit]

Wright was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and grew up in Burlington, Massachusetts,[7][8] one of four children of Lucille "Dolly" (née Lomano) and Alexander K. Wright.[7][9][10] He was raised as a Roman Catholic.[11] His mother was Italian American and his father was of Scottish descent.[12] Wright's father worked as an electronics technician who "tested a lot of stuff" for NASA during the Apollo spacecraft program. When that program ended, he worked as a truck driver.[7]

Wright attended Middlesex Community College in Bedford, Massachusetts for two years to earn his associate's degree, then continued his education at Emerson College.[13] He graduated from Emerson in 1978[13] and began performing stand-up comedy the following year[7][14] at the Comedy Connection in Boston.[7][13] Wright cites comic George Carlin and director Woody Allen as comedic influences.[15]

In 1982 executive producer of The Tonight ShowPeter Lassally saw Wright performing on a bill with other local comics at the Ding Ho comedy club,[16] in Cambridge's Inman Square,[17] a venue Wright described as "half Chinese restaurant and half comedy club. It was a pretty weird place."[7] Lassally booked Wright on NBC's The Tonight Show, where the comic so impressed host Johnny Carson and the studio audience that less than a week later Wright was invited to appear on the show again.[15] In May 2000, Wright and other Ding Ho alumni including Lenny Clarke, Barry Crimmins, Steve Sweeney, Bill Sohonage and Jimmy Tingle appeared at a reunion benefit for comic Bob Lazarus who was suffering from leukemia.[17]

Stand-up success[edit]

Wright's 1985 comedy album was entitled I Have a Pony. It was released on Warner Bros. Records, received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. The success of this album landed him an HBO special which he recorded as a live college concert performance, A Steven Wright Special. By then Wright had firmly developed a new brand of obscure, laid-back performing and was rapidly building a cult-like following of hip, savvy fans and an onstage persona characterized by an aura of obscurity, with his penchant for non-sequiturs and subdued, slowly-paced delivery style only adding to his mystique. His opening act for the HBO concert was fellow "Ding Ho" comedy alumnus Bill Sohonage, who claimed that Steven's ultra-casual, nearly catatonic demeanor was no act. "He walked into my dressing room, minutes before I was to take the stage, and asked if he could borrow a shirt, as his had a giant pizza stain. You would think it might be normal to be a little nervous going on a college stage in front of 23,000, let alone having HBO out there filming, but as I passed by his room while walking on-stage I saw him sound asleep and loudly snoring." The performance would become one of HBO's longest running and most requested comedy specials, and would propel him to great success on the college-arena concert circuit.

In 1989 he and fellow producer Dean Parisot won an Academy Award for their 30-minute short film "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings," directed by Parisot, written by Mike Armstrong and Wright, and starring Wright and Rowan Atkinson. Upon accepting the Oscar, Wright said, "We're really glad that we cut out the other sixty minutes." In 1992 Wright had a recurring role on the television sitcom Mad About You. He also supplied the voice of the radio DJ in writer-director Quentin Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs that same year. "Dean Parisot's wife Sally Menke is Quentin Tarantino's [film] editor, so when she was editing the movie and it was getting down toward the end where they didn't have the radio DJ yet, she thought of me and told Quentin and he liked the idea," Wright explained in 2009.[7]

Numerous lists of jokes attributed to Wright circulate on the Internet, sometimes of dubious origin. Wright has stated, "Someone showed me a site, and half of it that said I wrote it, I didn't write. Recently, I saw one, and I didn't write any of it. What's disturbing is that with a few of these jokes, I wish I had thought of them. A giant amount of them, I'm embarrassed that people think I thought of them, because some are really bad."[18]

After his 1990 comedy special Wicker Chairs and Gravity, Wright continued to do stand-up performances, but he was largely absent from television, doing only occasional guest spots on late-night talk shows. In 1999 he wrote and directed the 30-minute short One Soldier saying it's "about a soldier who was in the Civil War, right after the war, with all these existentialist thoughts and wondering if there is a God and all that stuff."[7]

In 2006 Wright produced his first stand-up special in 16 years, Steven Wright: When the Leaves Blow Away, originally aired on Comedy Central on October 21, 2006. Its DVD was released April 23, 2007.[citation needed] On September 25, 2007 Wright released his second album, I Still Have a Pony, a CD release of the material from When The Leaves Blow Away. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album, but lost to The Distant Future by Flight of the Conchords.

Awards and honors[edit]

Steven Wright was awarded an Oscar in 1989 for Best Short Live-Action Film for The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, which he co-wrote (with Michael Armstrong) and starred in.[19] He received two Emmy nominations as part of the producing team of Louie, first in 2014 and again in 2015.[20]

On December 15, 2008, Wright became the first inductee to the Boston Comedy Hall of Fame.[16][21]

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. He was named No. 23 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics.[22]

Other interests[edit]

While not well known for works outside of the comedy realm, Steven Wright is also a musician and has also recorded several non-comedy songs with his friend and occasional actor Mark Wuerthner.[23][24] Wright also has an interest in painting.[25]

Beginning in 2008, Steven Wright occasionally appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson as a visiting celebrity, dropping by the show to help with the fan-mail segment. He joined a small cadre of Hollywood comedy celebrities who supported the show.[26][27]






  1. ^"Steven Wright Interview". The Comedy Couch. April 10, 2002. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  2. ^Lapka, Larry (December 6, 1955). "Steven Wright". AllMusic. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  3. ^Leatherman, Benjamin (8 May 2012). "Comedian Steven Wright on His Deadpan Style, Getting Inspired By Salvador Dali, Working With Quentin Tarantino, and More". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  4. ^Love, Matthew (14 February 2017). "50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  5. ^"The Appointments of Dennis Jennings". AMPAS. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  6. ^"Steven Wright". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  7. ^ abcdefghFrank Lovece (May 28, 2009). "Comedian Steven Wright plays Westbury Sunday". Newsday. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  8. ^Gail Waterhouse (March 3, 2010). "a famous former Burlington resident". The Boston Globe. 
  9. ^"Obituary". January 9, 2008. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  10. ^"Cover Story; The (sur)real Steven Wright; He laughs easily, works hard for material". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 1, 1987. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  11. ^"Latest". Steven Wright. May 17, 2002. Archived from the original on April 18, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  12. ^Dana, Rebecca (June 5, 2009). "Steven Wright on Letterman, Rembrandt and Being Short". Speakeasy. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  13. ^ abcCrane, Joyce Pellino. "Laugh Track: For more than five decades, Emerson College has been putting comics on the road to success," The Boston Globe, October 7, 2007
  14. ^Young, Chris. "Behind a new album, comedian Steven Wright plays Pittsburgh for the first time in five years", Pittsburgh City Paper, October 11, 2007
  15. ^ abKeepnews, Peter. "A Strange Career Takes an Odd Turn," The New York Times, February 10, 2008, Section AR; Column 0; Arts and Leisure Desk; Television; Pg. 11
  16. ^ abTurbovsky, Rob. "Steven Wright inducted into Hall, a city’s comedy history celebrated"Archived April 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Punchline Magazine, December 22, 2008
  17. ^ abBaltrusis, Sam. "Steven Wright headlines Ding Ho reunion benefit",, April 8, 2008
  18. ^Tasha Robinson, "Interview: Steven Wright,"The A.V. Club, January 29, 2003.
  19. ^Nathan Rabin, "Interview: Steven Wright,"The A.V. Club, November 9, 2006.
  20. ^"Steven Wright – Television Academy". 
  21. ^Miller, Jay, N. "The Wright stuff; Boston comedian is first inductee into hall of fame", The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts), December 15, 2008, Features; pg. 23
  22. ^Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of all Time,
  23. ^"Music". Steven Wright. Archived from the original on July 3, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  24. ^Mark Wuerthner on IMDb
  25. ^"Music & Paintings". Steven Wright. Archived from the original on June 18, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  26. ^"Steven on the Late Late Show". Archived from the original on August 5, 2010. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  27. ^"The Late Late Show – Steven Wright Drops By". July 23, 2011. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  28. ^Goldberg, Matt (December 20, 2016). "'The Emoji Movie' Trailer Literally Gets Promoted by "Meh"". Collider. Retrieved December 20, 2016. 
  29. ^"The History". Steven Wright. Archived from the original on June 28, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  30. ^"(I'm From) Western Mass". Dr. Westchesterson. Retrieved October 22, 2012. 
  31. ^Yakas, Ben (January 30, 2016). "Louis C.K. Releases Surprise New Dramatic Web Series Horace & Pete". Gothamist. Archived from the original on January 31, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016. 

External links[edit]

1WrightM.E., The Comedian as Critic: Greek Old Comedy and Poetics (London, 2012).

2 For a couple of excellent critiques of these labels, see SidwellK., ‘From Old to Middle to New? Aristotle's Poetics and the history of Athenian comedy’, in HarveyF.D. and WilkinsJ.M. (edd.), The Rivals of Aristophanes: Studies in Athenian Old Comedy (London, 2000), 247–58; CsapoE., ‘From Aristotle to Menander: genre transformation in Greek comedy’, in DepewM. and ObbinkD. (edd.), Matrices of Genre: Authors, Canons, and Society (Cambridge, MA, 2000), 115–33.

3 On all such matters see (e.g.) GildenhardI. and RevermannM. (edd.) Beyond the Fifth Century (Berlin, 2010); FordA., The Birth of Criticism (Princeton, 2002); PfeifferR., A History of Classical Scholarship I (Oxford, 1968); WebsterT.B.L., Art and Literature in Fourth-Century Greece (London, 1956); YunisH. (ed.), Written Texts and the Rise of Literate Culture in Ancient Greece (Cambridge, 2003).

4 Cf. M. Heath's discussion of the shared repertoire of fifth-century comedians, in ‘Aristophanes and his rivals’, G&R38 (1990), 143–58.

5 Note that all comic fragments are cited from the multi-volume edition of KasselR. and AustinC., Poetae Comici Graeci (Berlin and New York, 1983–), with the exception of Menander, whose plays and fragments are cited from W.G. Arnott's Loeb edition (Cambridge, MA, 1979–2000).

6 On the importance of distinguishing between the audience as a whole and the ‘target’ audience of each comedian, see Wright (n. 1), 3–5, 55–60.

7 See BloomH., The Anxiety of Influence (New York, 1975) and now The Anatomy of Influence (New Haven, 2011).D'Angour'sA. excellent new book, The Greeks and the New (Cambridge, 2011) is also relevant for its depiction of ancient responses to the challenge (or problem) of novelty in all its forms.

8 The fragment is discussed by WilsonP., The Athenian Institution of the Khoregia (Cambridge, 2000), 68–70; cf. WrightM.E., ‘Literary prizes and literary criticism in antiquity’, ClAnt28 (2009), 138–77, at 167–9.

9 See Kassel–Austin, ad loc. (2.326). The speaker may be a poet, though EdmondsJ.M., The Fragments of Greek Comedy II (Leiden1957), ad loc. (= fr. 29) suggested that it is the Muse, addressing the poet in the play's prologue.

10 As in several fifth-century comedies: e.g. Pherecrates, Cheiron fr. 155, id., Corianno fr. 84, Ar. Nub. 1353–65, etc., though these earlier references are less obviously approving in nature.

11 Earlier jokes contrasting new and old material include: Callias fr. 26; Cratinus, Odysseis fr. 153; Metagenes, Philothytes fr. 15; Eupolis, Autolycus fr. 60, Helots fr. 148, frr. 326, 366; Platon, Peisander fr. 106; Ar. Eq. 518–25, Nub. 895–7, 1353–65, Ran. 1–20, etc.

12 See especially B. Kawin, Telling it Again: Repetition in Film and Literature (Ithaca, NY, 1972). Repetition and recognition are key elements in several theoretical definitions of humour: see BergsonH., Laughter (London, 1913), FryeN., The Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton, 1957); cf. Wright (n. 1), 70–102.

13 So NesselrathH.-G., Die attische mittlere Komödie: Ihre Stellung in der antiken Literaturkritik und Literaturgeschichte (Berlin and New York, 1990), 239–41, who discusses this fragment in detail; cf. OlsonS.D., Broken Laughter (Oxford, 2007), 172–5.

14 For this view cf. Diphilus, Elaionephrourountes fr. 29, where someone (a comedian?) complains that the tragedians alone have the licence to say or do anything they like.

15 See HunterR.L., The New Comedy of Greece and Rome (Cambridge, 1985), 158.

16 Cf. the fourth-century tragedian Astydamas, who wrote an often-cited epigram expressing the wish that he had been born earlier, so as to compete on equal terms with the great fifth-century tragedians (TrGF 1.60 T 2a–b). Earlier poets had already bemoaned the fact that nearly everything worth saying had been said before: e.g. Choerilus fr. 1 Bernabé; Bacchyl. Paean fr. 5 Maehler; Ar. Danaides fr. 265.

17 Ar. Nub. 547–8; cf. Vesp. 1043–50.

18 e.g. Posidippus fr. 1, Euphron, Adelphoi fr. 1, Damoxenus, Syntrophoi fr. 2, Sosipater, Katapseudomenos fr. 1; Straton, Phoinicides fr. 1, Athenion, Samothracians fr. 1, etc.; see Nesselrath (n. 13), 257–8 and WilkinsJ.M., The Boastful Chef: The Discourse of Food in Greek Comedy (Oxford, 2000), 382–91, 396–408.

19 Xenarchus fr. 4 may also be relevant: it suggests that the author was interested in ‘generation gap’ comedy and the supposed depravity of modern youth. See Olson (n. 13), 342–4.

20 e.g. Pherecrates, Krapataloi fr. 101; Callias fr. 26; Metagenes, Philothytes fr. 15; Ar. Eq. 537–9, Gerytades fr. 595; Cratinus, Pylaia fr. 182 (and many others). See Wright (n. 1), 129–39 for detailed discussion.

21 On the complex afterlife of the metaphor of ‘taste’, see esp. GiganteD., Taste: A Literary History (New Haven, 2005); cf. GowersE., The Loaded Table (Oxford, 1993), 40–9.

22 See Wilkins (n. 18), esp. 387–408.

23 e.g. Philemon, Stratiotes fr. 82; Eubulus, Oedipus fr. 72; Alexis, Phugas fr. 259; Archedicus, Thesauros fr. 2.

24 Mithaecus, Heracleides, Glaucus and others started producing cookery books around the turn of the century: see OlsonS.D. and SensA., Archestratos of Gela: Greek Culture and Cuisine in the Fourth Century bce (Oxford, 2000).

25 Which Philoxenus? Several candidates are possible, all of whom are connected (somehow) with food in the ancient tradition. See HunterR. and RussellD.A. (edd.), Plutarch: How To Study Poetry (Cambridge, 2011), 70–1 for useful discussion.

26 Cf. Antiphanes, Sappho fr. 194.17–21 with Olson (n. 13), 203; see also Alexis, Linus fr. 140 (discussed below). See GavrilovA.K., ‘Techniques of reading in classical antiquity’, CQ47 (1997), 56–73.

27 Cf. Ar. Banqueters fr. 233 for γλῶτται in this sense (also the title of a work by Philitas). Another comic chef employs obscurely learned terminology (though without explicit reference to books) at Antiphanes, Aphrodisius fr. 55.

28 On the alazoneia of the comic chef, see Ath. 7.288c–293e and 9.376c–383f, with Wilkins (n. 18), 408–9. Cf. HandleyE., The Dyskolos of Menander (London, 1965), 199: ‘Cooks are experts, and like other experts ancient and modern, they can be amusing when they exaggerate their own skill and importance … Most of them, as seen by Comedy, have a dash of sophistry and pretentiousness.’

29 This is more or less the view of G.W. Dobrov, who views the mageiros as the prototype of the servus callidus of later (especially Roman) comedy: ‘Μάγειρος ποιητής: language and character in Antiphanes’, in WilliA. (ed.), The Language of Greek Comedy (Oxford, 2002), 169–90.

30 According to Athenaeus (4.164b–d), who cites the fragment.

31 So Olson (n. 13), 268.

32 Simus is normally assumed to be a real-life person: he is not attested elsewhere, but the manner in which he is discussed by Linus implies that he really did exist. The word τέχνη in the fragment, which I translated ‘art’, may have been the actual title of Linus' book (cf. the use of Techne as the title of rhetorical works by e.g. Antiphon, Aristotle, Isocrates and others).

33 So Olson (n. 13), 267; cf. ibid. 61–3 on [Epicharmus], Gnomai frr. 244–73.

34 e.g. in Antiphanes, Poiesis fr. 189 (quoted above); but on the question of generic rivalry more broadly see (e.g.) FoleyH., ‘Tragedy and politics in Aristophanes' Acharnians’, JHS108 (1988), 33–47; PlatterC., Aristophanes and the Carnival of Genres (Baltimore, 2007); WrightM.E., ‘Comedy vs tragedy in Wasps’, in BakolaE., PrauscelloL. and TelóM. (edd.), Greek Comedy and the Discourse of Genres (Cambridge, 2013), 205–24).

35RustenJ. (ed.), The Birth of Comedy: Texts, Documents, and Art from Athenian Comic Competitions, 486–280 (Baltimore, 2011), 544.

36 A close parallel is provided by Ar. Gerytades fr. 163, in which poets eat their own writing tablets.

37 See (e.g.) Ar. Thesm. 148–72, with the commentary of C. Austin and S.D. Olson (Oxford, 2005), ad loc.; cf. WormanN., The Cast of Character: Style in Greek Literature (Austin, 2002).

38 e.g. Ar. Nub. 1353–65, Ran. 771–6; Eupolis, Helots fr. 148, incert. fab. frr. 326, 395.

39 Men. Dyskolos 968–9, Misoumenos 465–6, Sikyonios 422–3, Samia 736–7, fr. 771; Posidippus, Apokleiomene fr. 6.

40 See (most recently) SidwellK., Aristophanes the Democrat: The Politics of Satirical Comedy during the Peloponnesian War (Cambridge, 2009); BilesZ., Aristophanes and the Poetics of Comic Competition (Cambridge, 2011). However, I have argued elsewhere that the rhetoric of competition, though extremely prominent in fifth-century comedy, is not always to be taken at face value: see Wright (n. 1), 31–69.

41 One must beware of the argument from silence: the fact that we are dealing with fragments cannot be emphasized enough. Nevertheless, the total absence of references to festivals or prizes from the fragments of later comedy contrasts with the frequent presence of such material in the fragments of fifth-century comedy.

42 See esp. SlaterN.W., ‘The fabrication of comic illusion’, in DobrovG.W. (ed.), Beyond Aristophanes: Transition and Diversity in Greek Comedy (Atlanta, 1995), 29–45; id., ‘Play and playwright references in Middle and New Comedy’, LCM10 (1985), 103–5; TaplinO.P., Comic Angels and Other Approaches to Greek Drama through Vase-Painting (Oxford, 1993); id., Pots and Plays (Malibu, 2007); CsapoE., Actors and Icons of the Ancient Theatre (Oxford, 2010).

43 Note, however, Demetrius, On Style 193 for the intriguing (and seemingly unparalleled) suggestion that some comedies are naturally more suitable for a reading audience: he claims that actors prefer Menander but readers prefer Philemon.

44 Chamaeleon fr. 43 Wehrli (quoted by Athenaeus 9.373f = Anaxandrides T2 K.–A.).

45 See ArrighettiG., Poeti, eruditi e biografi (Pisa, 1987), 141–59 on ancient biography and the problems of Chamaeleon's evidence.

46 Sometimes the joke also seems to depend on deliberate misattribution of a quotation, as in Antiphanes fr. 205 (is a certain phrase from Euripides or Philoxenus?); cf. Antiphanes fr. 1 (‘dithyramb sold as Sophocles’: so Dobrov [n. 29], 189); Diphilus, Synoris fr. 74 (a character questions whether a quotation is really from Euripides: see Olson [n. 13], 180, who thinks the quotation is fabricated).

47 Ephippus fr. 10, Eubulus fr. 118, Philemon fr. 98, etc.

48 Ephippus fr. 9, Eubulus fr. 128, etc.

49 Alexis fr. 183, Anaxilas fr. 19, etc.

50 Eriphus fr. 1, Antiphanes fr. 228, Alexis fr. 157, etc.

51 Nicostratus fr. 41.

52 Antiphanes fr. 111.

53 Epicrates fr. 4, Menander, Leukadia fr. 1; Amphis, Antiphanes, Diphilus, Ephippus and Timocles all wrote plays called Sappho.

54 Alexis fr. 19.

55 See §§ IV and V below. Olson (n. 13), 178–9 supplies a useful list of comic references.

56 Gorg. B11, B23 DK; cf. Dissoi Logoi 90. 3.10 DK. See e.g. M. Pohlenz, ‘Die Anfänge der griechischen Poetik’, NGG 1920: 142–78 (reprinted in Kleine Schriften 2 [Hildesheim, 1965], 436–72); SegalC.P., ‘Gorgias and the psychology of the logos’, HSPh66 (1962), 99–155.

57 Ar. Ach. 497–503, 651; Eq. 510–11; Nub. 575–94; Pax 736–58; Ran. 686–7, 1008–10 (and passim); Vesp. 1030–43, etc.; cf. Thesm. 372–458 and Ran. 1030–88 for the related idea that Euripidean tragedy has harmed the citizens. Eupolis, Maricas frr. 192, 205 also contains the idea of comic ‘teaching’. All such claims can be read either seriously or ironically, of course: see Wright (n. 1), 16–24.

58 That is, unless P Köln VI.242A (= TrGF 2.F646a) is to be attributed to a comedy of c. 400 b.c., as suggested by A. Bierl, ‘Dionysus, wine, and tragic poetry: a metatheatrical reading of P. Köln VI.242A = TrGF II F646a’, GRBS 31 (1990), 353–84 (followed by Slater [n. 42], 42–4). Bierl interprets this fragment as a comic critique of theatrical illusion or realism in Euripidean tragedy, based on its allusion to a ‘bard from Salamis’ (ἀοιδὸς Σαλαμῖνος, 19) and references to some sort of ‘deception’ or ‘lies’ (ἀπάτας and ψευδομέναις, 20–1; cf. Gorgias' use of ἀπάτη to denote theatrical illusion: B23 DK). This interpretation is ingenious and attractive, but can hardly be regarded as certain.

59 Arist. Poet. 6.1449b24–8. GutzwillerK., ‘The tragic mask of comedy: metatheatricality in Menander’, ClAnt19 (2000), 102–37 argues for a definite Aristotelian influence on comedians such as Timocles and Menander not just in respect of katharsis but also in their shared use of other vocabulary (hamartia, anagnorisis, etc.). Cf. BarigazziA., La formazione spirituale di Menandro (Turin, 1965), who interprets Menander's plays specifically as dramatizations of problems in Peripatetic ethics, and StockertW., ‘Metatheatrikalisches in Menanders Epitrepontes’, WS110 (1997), 5–18, whose focus is on pity and fear.

60 See HalliwellF.S., Aristotle's Poetics (London, 1986), 349–55 for a useful summary and critique of several types of interpretation.

61 So Olson (n. 13), 169, with ref. to Stobaeus (4.56.19), who cites the fragment in a section ‘On sources of consolation’.

62KosakJ. Clarke, Heroic Measures: Hippocratic Medicine in the Making of Euripidean Tragedy (Leiden, 2004) is an excellent discussion of the way in which medical and non-medical writers in classical Greece shared the same patterns of thought.

63 e.g. Ar. Vesp. 650–1; JankoR., ‘A new comic fragment (Aristophanes?) on the effect of tragedy’, CQ59 (2009), 270–1 suggests persuasively that Olympiodorus' commentary on Pl. Gorg. (33.3) preserves a fragment of comedy concerned with the cathartic power of tragedy.

64 Gorg. Hel. (B11 DK §14); cf. n. 56 above.

65 e.g. Hom. Od. 1. 325–52, 8.477–51; Stesich. fr. 210; Theognis 531–4; Hes. Theog. 98–103; Pl. Ion 536a, etc. Noted by Gutzwiller (n. 59), 114; cf. WalshG.B., The Varieties of Enchantment: Early Greek Views of the Nature and Function of Poetry (Chapel Hill, 1984).

66 Lucian, Hist. conscr. 59.1. This psychological condition, a morbid sense of being overcome by art or beauty, is now known as Stendhal's Syndrome, after the novelist who fell prey to it while travelling in Florence: see MagheriniG., La Sindrome di Stendhal (Florence, 1989).

67 There is no explicit indication that Lucian had Axionicus in mind, but in general Lucian acknowledges the influence of Greek comedy on his own work: see Bis Accus. 33, Pisc. 25. On Lucian's use of comic material see SidwellK., ‘Athenaeus, Lucian, and fifth-century comedy’, in BraundD.C. and WilkinsJ.M. (edd.), Athenaeus and His World (Exeter, 2000), 136–52.

68 Eur. fr. 661 (cf. P Oxy. 2455 = TrGF 5.T iia). The same line is quoted repeatedly throughout antiquity, e.g. (from comedy) Ar. Ran. 1217, Men. Aspis 407, etc. (see TrGF ad loc. for a complete list).

69 See JohansenH. Friis, General Reflection in Tragic Rhesis: A Study of Form (Copenhagen, 1959).

70 See Plutarch, How to Study Poetry for perhaps the best surviving example of this tendency, as well as the various instances of gnomologia from later antiquity. See WachsmuthK., Studien zu den griechischen Florilegien (Berlin, 1882) and, more recently, KonstanD., ‘Excerpting as a reading practice’, in Reydams-SchilsG. (ed.), Thinking Through Excerpts: Studies on Stobaeus (Turnhout, 2011), 9–22.

71 See MostG.W., ‘Euripide Ο ΓΝΩΜΟΛΟΓΙΚΩΤΑΤΟΣ’, in FunghiM.S., Aspetti di letteratura gnomica nel mondo antico (Florence, 2003), 141–66.

72 See (esp.) ScafuroA., The Forensic Stage (Cambridge, 1997), on the use of tragic texts by rhetoricians: cf. PerlmanS., ‘Quotations from poetry in the Attic orators of the fourth century bc’, AJPh85 (1964), 155–72; WilsonP.J., ‘Tragic rhetoric: the use of tragedy and the tragic in the fourth century’, in SilkM.S. (ed.), Tragedy and the Tragic (Oxford, 1996), 310–31.

73 e.g. Ar. Ran. 1050–88; Thesm. 177–8, 193–201, 383–432, 443–56.

74 Cf., perhaps, the excessive (ironic?) enthusiasm shown by Daos in Men. Aspis 408: after quoting the same Euripidean fragment, he exclaims εὖ διαφόρως (‘Oh, jolly good!’; cf. ὑπέρευγε, ibid. 412).

75 Cf. the very similar mode of citation, and wording, of Dem. Meid. 149–50.

76GommeA.W. and SandbachF.H., Menander: A Commentary (Oxford, 1973), ad loc. suggest that Sophocles' Tyro is meant, but they point out that various other tragedies on the same theme existed (by e.g. Astydamas and Carcinus.).

77 Cf. also Men. Samia 588–96 (Demeas' use of Danae as paradeigma); Aspis 407–33 (Daos quotes a long string of tragic gnomai in the context of a lament); Diphilus fr. 88 (consolatory use of the gnomic Euripidean fragment 916); Eubulus fr. 115 (paradeigmata from tragic myth used to compare good and bad sorts of women); Eriphus, Aeolus fr. 1 (parody of a Sophoclean gnome), etc.

78 It is not just a comic theme: cf. Euripides' portrayal of several unusually well-educated female slaves with knowledge of literature and art: Alc. 445–54, 962–72; Hipp. 451–56.

79 Gutzwiller (n. 59), 105. Cf. GoldbergS.M., The Making of Menander's Comedy (Berkeley, 1980), 15–28, who sees a mixture of tragic and comic ‘modes’ as central to the overall effect of Menander's comedy. There have been numerous studies of Menander's use of tragic themes and topoi in general, notably KatsourisA., Tragic Patterns in Menander (Athens, 1975); HurstA., ‘Ménandre et la tragédie’, in HandleyE. and HurstA. (edd.), Relire Ménandre (Geneva, 1990), 93–122; HunterR. and FantuzziM., Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry (Cambridge, 2004), 426–30. It is not clear how unusual or distinctive Menander will have been in this respect, but there is certainly plenty of evidence of paratragedy in the other comedians' remains.

80 Many of the book fragments of later comedians come from gnomic anthologies. The subject of comic maxims requires further study; but (for Menander) see PompellaG. (ed.), Menandro sentenze: introduzione, traduzione, e note (Milan, 1997); LiapisV., Menandrou gnomai monistichoi: eisagoge, metaphrase, scholia (Athens, 2002).

81 This is more or less the view of WebsterT.B.L., Art and Literature in Fourth-Century Athens (London, 1956), 135–45, though it seems to me that he veers between claiming that Menander is and is not a serious ethical writer. Webster's view that comedy was the only ‘live’ fourth-century drama, and that tragedy ‘had practically ceased to be a live art’ (135–6), is also highly questionable: see EasterlingP.E., ‘The end of an era? Tragedy in the early fourth century’, in SommersteinA.H. et al. (edd.), Tragedy, Comedy, and the Polis (Bari, 1993), 559–69.

82SilkM.S., Aristophanes and the Definition of Comedy (Oxford, 2000); cf. Foley (n. 34), Platter (n. 34). Nevertheless, S. Miles, ‘Strattis, tragedy, and comedy’ (Diss., Nottingham, 2009) has shown that Aristophanes was not unique in his preoccupation with tragedy or Euripides: her work adds valuable depth and detail to our understanding of generic interplay in fifth-century drama.

83 See ArnottW.G., ‘From Aristophanes to Menander’, G&R19 (1972), 65–80, at 73–6.

84 For detailed discussion of these topics, see (on Menander) Hurst (n. 79), Katsouris (n. 79); the commentaries of R. Hunter on Eubulus (Cambridge, 1983) and W.G. Arnott on Alexis (Cambridge, 1996) are also full of excellent material on individual fragments and their context.

85 One finds scattered references to (e.g.) Chaeremon (Ephippus, Epheboi fr. 9, Eubulus fr. 128), Dionysius (Ephippus fr. 16, Eubulus' Dionysius), Theodectes (Antiphanes, Kares fr. 111), Theodorus (Ephippus fr. 16).

86 This attitude is called ‘nostalgic adoration’ by J. Hanink, ‘The classical tragedians from Athenian idols to wandering poets’, in Gildenhard and Revermann (n. 3), 39–67.

87Vit. Eur. 31. See HaninkJ., ‘The Life of the author in the letters of “Euripides”’, GRBS50 (2010), 537–64, at 547.

88 Aristophanes' portrait is not to be taken at face value; but the comedian had a huge influence on the subsequent reception of Euripides: see HunterR., Critical Moments in Classical Literature (Cambridge, 2009), 29–36; MicheliniA.N., Euripides and the Tragic Tradition (Madison, 1987).

89Poetics 13.1453a30 (though Aristotle seems to be talking about Euripidean endings in particular).

90 So Silk (n. 82), passim; cf. Wright (n. 1), 143–62 on the essentially non-hostile nature of Aristophanic parody.

91 Csapo (n. 42), 171–2 sees this fragment as reflecting the fourth-century ‘privatization’ of tragedy, i.e. private, sympotic performances at court. I wonder whether Euripides' unpopularity as a dinner guest may be connected to another fragment (Ephippus, Epheboi fr. 9) in which someone called Euripides is seen as having a problem with heavy drinking. There is some uncertainty about which Euripides is denoted (see Ath. 11.482b–c), but the fact that he appears in the company of another tragedian (Chaeremon) is significant. Antiphanes, Traumatias fr. 205 also mentions the tragedian Euripides in connection with drinking.

92 Hunter (n. 84) prints Eubulus fr. 26 as two separate fragments (26.1–2 and 26.3–4), suggesting that Euripides himself is the speaker of the second part, defending himself against his critics' mockery: see his commentary ad loc. for detailed discussion.

93 Most recently by Hanink (n. 86), 43–4; cf. Hunter (n. 88).

94RosenR., ‘Aristophanes, fandom, and the classicizing of Greek tragedy’, in KosakL. and RichJ. (edd.), Playing Around Aristophanes (Oxford, 2006), 27–47. Cf. recent studies suggesting that particular comedians had their own favourite author whose work they helped to popularize: e.g. Silk (n. 82) on Aristophanes and Euripides; BakolaE., Cratinus and the Art of Comedy (Oxford, 2010), 24–9 on Cratinus and Aeschylus.

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