Comedy

Cervantes: Don Quixote

Don_Quichotte_Honoré_Daumier cc Wikipedia user YelkrokoyadeDon Quixote is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes, published in two volumes in 1605 and 16015. It is one of the most highly regarded novels ever written, and its satire of earlier prose romances influenced the realism of the developing form.

The title character is an elderly gentlemen of La Mancha who is driven out of his wits by his reading of popular chivalric romances, and embarks on a series of picarasque adventures, accompanied by the more worldly Sancho Panza. The work has been subjected to many interpretations. Some suggest that like the earlier picaresque genre, it reflects the breakdown of feudalism and the emergence of commercial society.

Don Quixote at Amazon

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English translations

Gutenberg: The History of Don Quixote, Part One | Part Two, translated by John Ormsby (1885). HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.

Gutenberg: The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Peter Motteux. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.

Internet Archive: The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha, translated by John Ormsby (1885). EPUB, TXT, MOBI (Kindle) and PDF formats.

University of Adelaide: Don Quixote, translated by John Ormsby (1885), with illustrations by Gustav Doré. HTML, EPUB and MOBI (Kindle) formats.

Wikisource: English translation by John Ormsby. HTML and other formats.

Spanish texts

Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes: Don Qvixote [sic] de la Mancha. First Part. Second part. Edition of Rodolfo Schevill and Adolfo Bonilla. HTML format.

Centro Virtual Cervantes: Don Quijote de la Mancha. HTML format.

Wikisource: Spanish text. HTML and other formats.

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Apuleius: The Golden Ass

Lucius_is_returned_to_human_form_at_the_procession_of_IsisThe Metamorphoses of Apuleius, better known as The Golden Ass (Latin: Asinus aureus) is the only complete surviving Latin novel from antiquity. In eleven books, it tells the story of Lucius, a Greek who is magically transformed into an ass, undergoing in that form a series of picaresque adventures.

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The English Server: The Golden Asse, English translation by William Adlington (1566). HTML format. Archived at the Internet Archive.

Forum Romanum: Metamorphoses. Latin text. HTML format. (Book I missing as of Dec 2018).

Gutenberg: The Golden Asse, English translation by William Adlington (1566). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Golden Ass, Greek text and English translation by William Adlington, revised by  S. Gaselee (1924). Loeb edition. Multiple formats.

Loebulus: L044 - Apuleius - The Golden Ass. Greek text and English translation. PDF format.

Perseus: Metamorphoses. Latin text. HTML and XML formats.

Poetry in Translation: The Golden Ass, translated by A.S. Kline (2013). Multiple formats.

Sacred Texts Archive: The Golden Asse, English translation by William Adlington (1566). HTML format. See also The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche.

University of Adelaide: The Golden Asse, English translation by William Adlington (1566). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Latin text and English translation by William Adlington (1566). HTML and other formats.

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Menander: The Girl from Samos

Samia_(Girl_from_Samos)_Mytilene_3cADThe Girl from Samos (Ancient Greek: Σαμία) is a comedy by Menander, thought to have been produced between 317 and 307 BCE. As a result of modern papyrus finds, it is the second best preserved of his plays after Dyskolos.

The plot concerns events in the households of two neighbouring Athenian business partners, Demeas and Nikeratos. Demeas' mistress Chrysis and Nikeratos' daughter, Plangon, both fall pregnant. After suffering a miscarriage, Chrysis, the Samian girl of the title, nurses Plangon's child by Demeas' son Moschion. After gaining a hint of the child's true identity, Demeas assumes that his mistress has seduced his son. This prompts an escalating series of confrontations, which are ultimately resolved, paving the way for Moschion's marriage to Plangon.

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Internet Archive: Menander - The Principal Fragments. Bilingual Loeb edition. Multiple formats.

Loebulus: L132 - Menander -- Principal Fragments: Arbitrants. Girl from Samos. Girl Who Gets Her Hair Cut Short. Hero. Fragments. Unidentified Comedy. Bilingual Loeb edition. PDF format.

University of Adelaide: The Girl from Samos, translated by Francis Greenleaf Allinson. PDF format.

Other Resources

Wikipedia: Menander - Samia

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Noteso

Menander: Dyskolos

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.

Bloom's Western Canon: The Girl from Samos is listed.


Menander: Dyskolos

Via Wikipedia, by Rennett Stowe. CC BY 2.0Dyskolos (Greek: Δύσκολος) or The Grouch is the most substantial surviving play by Menander, the key dramatist of the Greek New Comedy, which succeeded Aristophanes' Old Comedy and heavily influenced Roman comedy. It was originally performed at the Lenaia festival of 317 BC.

The play centres on Sostratus, a wealthy young man and his attempts to marry the daughter of Cnemon, the title character, in the face of the obstacles provided by the latter's boorish personality.

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Free online texts

Fairfield University: Menander's Dyskolos (Grouch), translated by Vincent J. Rosivach. HTML format.

Poetry in Translation: Dyskolos, translated by George Theodoridis (2013). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Δύσκολος - Greek text.

Other Resources

Ancient-Literature.com: Dyskolos - synopsis and analysis.

Cornell College Classical Studies: The Comedies of Menander.

Literature and History: The New Comedy - Menander's Old Cantankerous. Podcast and transcript by Doug Metzger.

University College London: Menander's Dyskolos Study Guide - archived at the Internet Archive.

Wikipedia: Menander - Dyskolos

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Theophrastus: On Characters

Menander: The Girl from Samos

Aelian: Epistulae Rusticae - includes letters based on the plot of the Dyskolos.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Aristophanes: Wealth

658px-Dionysos_Ploutos_BM_F68Wealth or Plutus (Greek: Πλοῦτος) is Aristophanes' last extant comedy, produced in 388 BC.

The play centres on Chremylus, an exasperated Athenian who asks the Delphic oracle if he should bring his son up to be good or bad in order to prosper in life. The oracle leads him to a blind man who turns out to be the god of wealth, Plutus. Chremylus arranges for his sight to be restored at the temple of Asclepius. As a result, Plutus is able to reward the good and impoverish the bad. The newly wealthy Chremylus then receives a stream of visitors to his home, whose various situations illustrate the way Athenian society has been turned up side down as a result.

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Eleven Comedies, Volume 2 - The Wasps - The Birds - The Frogs - The Thesmophoriazusae - The Ecclesiazusae -- Plutus. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 179 - Aristophanes III - Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. 

Poetry in Translation: Wealth, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Plutus. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

History of Ancient Greece: o54- Old Comedy and Aristophanes. Podcast by Ryan Stitt.

Wikipedia: Plutus (play).

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Aristophanes: Ecclesiazusae

Ecclesiazusae (Greek: Ἐκκλησιάζουσαι} or Assemblywomen is a comedy by Aristophanes, probably first produced at Athens in 392 BC. Like the earlier Lysistrata, the play imagines women taking over the city. On this occasion, inspired by their ringleader Praxagora, they disguise themselves as men to pack the assembly, and vote to hand control over to themselves. they also enact a series of communistic measures, something which has been seen, probably anachronistically, as a satire on Plato's political program. 

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Eleven Comedies, Volume 2 - The Wasps - The Birds - The Frogs - The Thesmophoriazusae - The Ecclesiazusae -- Plutus. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 179 - Aristophanes III - Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. 

Poetry in Translation: Women in Parliament, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Ecclesiazusae. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

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Aristophanes: Thesmophoriazusae

ThesmophoriasuzaeKraterThesmophoriazusae (Greek: Θεσμοφοριάζουσαι) or Women at the Thesmophoria is a comedy by Aristophanes, first produced at Athens in 411 BC, probably at the Dionysia. As with Lysistrata, thought to have been produced at the Lenaea in the same year, gender forms a significant theme of the work, which is set during the Thesmophoria, a festival attended solely by women.

The tragic poet Euripides features as a central character. who learns that the festival-goers intend to kill him because of the negative portrayal of women in his work. After failing to persuade his fellow tragedian Agathon to infiltrate the festival on his behalf, Euripides sends an elderly relative instead. After the infiltrator is discovered, attempts to rescue him devolve into a series of parodies of Euripides' plays.

Thesmophoriazusae at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Picture by Wikimedia Commons user Daderot

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Eleven Comedies, Volume 2 - The Wasps - The Birds - The Frogs - The Thesmophoriazusae - The Ecclesiazusae -- Plutus. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 179 - Aristophanes III - Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. 

Internet Classics Archive: Thesmophoriazusae. English text in HTML and TXT format.

Poetry in Translation: Women at the Festival, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Thesmophoriazusae. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

History of Ancient Greece: o54- Old Comedy and Aristophanes. Podcast by Ryan Stitt.

Librivox: Chorus of Women from Thesmophoriazusae. Public domain audiobook.

Stanford News: Gender-swapped play takes on the ‘men’s rights’ movement, by Hannah Leblanc, 11 May 2017.

Wikipedia: Thesmophoriazousai

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Aristophanes: Lysistrata, Ecclesiazusae - two other plays in which women play a prominent role. The Frogs - another play targeting the tragic poets.

Euripides: Medea - one of the plays which contributed to the author's reputation for an equivocal attitued towards women.

Plato: Symposium - also employs the poet Agathon as a character.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Aristophanes: Lysistrata

Lysistrata (Greek: Λυσιστράτη) is a comedy by Aristophanes, which may have been produced for the Lenaea Festival at Athens in 411 BC. It's theme reflects the city's misfortunes in the Peloponnesian War following the defeat of the Sicilian Expedition in 413 BC. The title character is an Athenian woman who contrives to force an end to the war, first by organising women from across Greece to refuse sexual relations with their menfolk, and secondly by leading Athenian wives in seizing the Acropolis, and fighting off the old men of the city.

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: Greek text and English translation. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 179 - Aristophanes III - Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. 

Perseus: Greek text and English translation by Jack Lindsay. HTML and XML formats.

Poetry in Translation: Lysistrata, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Lysistrata. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

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Aristophanes: The Birds

The Birds  (Greek: Ὄρνιθες) is a comedy by Aristophanes first produced at the Athenian City Dionysia in 414 BC. It's fantastic plot may reflect an appetite for escapism during the tense period in which the city awaited the outcome of the Sicilian expedition. The play's protagonists are two Athenians who abandon the city go and live among the birds, who they persuade to build a city in the air, Nephelokokkygia or Cloudcuckooland, from which they force gods and humans to come to terms with them.

Free online texts

Gutenberg: Greek text and English translation. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 488 - Aristophanes II - Peace, Birds, Frogs. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. Multiple formats.

Poetry in Translation: Birds, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: The Birds. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: Comedy in Ancient Greek Theatre. Melvyn Bragg with Paul Cartledge, Edith Hall and Nick Lowe.

History of Ancient Greece: o54- Old Comedy and Aristophanes. Podcast by Ryan Stitt.

Wikipedia: The Birds (Play)

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.

Bloom's Western Canon: The Birds is listed.


Aristophanes: Peace

Peace (Greek: Εἰρήνη) is a comedy by Aristophanes, first performed at the Great Dionysia in 421 BC, where it won second prize. It satirises the contemporary political situation following the battle of Amphipolis, when the deaths of the Athenian general Cleon, and the Spartan Brasidas, paved the way for the Peace of Nicias, an outcome which Aristophanes enthusiastically anticipates.

Free online texts

Gutenberg: Peace. English translation, multiple formats.

Internet Archive: L 488 - Aristophanes II - Peace, Birds, Frogs. Bilingual Greek-English Loeb edition. Multiple formats.

Poetry in Translation: Peace, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Peace. English translation, HTML format.

Wikisource: Greek text and English translations. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

History of Ancient Greece: o54- Old Comedy and Aristophanes. Podcast by Ryan Stitt.

Wikipedia: Peace (play)

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Thucydides - Our best source for the political events which provided the occasion for Aristophanes' satire, although one which took a similarly jaundiced view of Cleon's career.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.