Epic-Oracular Markedness in Fifth-Century BCE Greek Comic Fragments


  • Anna Novokhatko Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg




Old Greek comedy, fragments, intertext, epic marker


The function of register features and linguistic indicators for epic (phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntactic structures, formulas, metre, narrative outset) in fragments of Sicilian and Old Attic comedy constitute the subject of this paper. Decoding epic-oracular register in comedy contributes to the reading of the fragmentary text. This is particularly significant in the lack of an explanatory context. The conscious juxtaposition of epic and comic registers and patterns by comedians can be thought of as a parodic game creating comic dissonance; but comic texts also reflect discourses on genre indicators of the time and should thus be considered in the larger framework of the development of Greek philological thought.


Battistella, E. L. 1996: The logic of markedness. New York-Oxford:

Bellocchi, M. 2008. Epicarmo e la commedia attica antica. In: Storia delle lingue letterarie greche, ed. by A. C. Cassio, 260–291. Milano:

Biber, D. 1995: Dimensions of register variation: a cross-linguistic comparison. Cambridge:

Cassio, A. C. 2002: The language of Doric comedy. In: The Language of Greek Comedy, ed. by A. Willi, 51–83. Oxford.

Cingano, E. 2009: The Hesiodic corpus. In: Brill’s Companion to Hesiod, ed. by F. Montanari, A. Rengakos, and Ch. Tsagalis, 91–130. Leiden-Boston.

Colvin, S. 1999: Dialect in Aristophanes: and the politics of language in ancient Greek literature. Oxford.

Dunbar, N. 1995: Aristophanes, Birds, ed. with intr. and comm. Oxford.

Kloss, G. 2001: Erscheinungsformen komischen Sprechens bei Aristophanes. Berlin-New York.

López Eire, A. 2004: Registros lingüísticos en la Comedia aristofánica. In: Registros lingüísticos en las lenguas clásicas, ed. by A. López Eire and A. Ramos Guerreira, 103–147. Salamanca.

Magnelli, E. 2004: Omero ironico, satirico, parodico: dal teatro attico alla poesia ellenistica. In: La cultura ellenistica: l’opera letteraria e l’esegesi antica, ed. by R. Pretagostini and E. Dettori, 155–168. Roma.

Olson, S. D. 2002: Aristophanes, Acharnians, ed. with intr. and comm. Oxford.

---. 2014: Eupolis frr. 326-497: translation and commentary. FragCom 8.3. Heidelberg.

Orth, C. 2014: Aristomenes - Metagenes: Einleitung, Übersetzung, Kommentar. FragCom 9.2. Heidelberg.

PCG = Poetae Comici Graeci, ed. by R. Kassel and C. Austin, vol. 1-8. Berlin-New York, 1983 - now.

Parker, L. P. E. 1997. The songs of Aristophanes. Oxford: Clarendon Pr.

Parry, M. 1930: Studies in the Epic Technique of Oral Verse-Making. I. Homer and Homeric Style. HStClPh 41: 73-147.

Platter, C. 2007: Aristophanes and the carnival of genres. Baltimore.

Pretagostini, R. 1995: L’esametro nel dramma attico del V secolo: problemi di „resa“ e di „riconoscimento“. In: Struttura e storia dell’ esametro greco, ed. by M. Fantuzzi and R. Pretagostini, 1:163–191. Roma.

Quaglia, R. 2007: Presenze di Omero nei frammenti della commedia antica. Maia 59, 2: 239–262.

Revermann, M. 2013: Paraepic comedy: point(s) and practices. In: Greek comedy and the discourse of genres, ed. by E. Bakola, L. Prauscello, and M. Telò, 99–128. Cambridge.

Rodríguez-Noriega Guillén, L. 2012: Epicharmus’ literary and philosophical background. In: Theater outside Athens: drama in Greek Sicily and South Italy, ed. by K. Bosher, 76–96. Cambridge-New York.

Scherrans, W. 1893: De poetarum comicorum Atticorum studiis Homericis. Königsberg.

Silk, M. S. 2000: Aristophanes versus the rest: comic poetry in Old comedy. In: The rivals of Aristophanes: studies in Athenian Old Comedy, ed. by D. Harvey and J. Wilkins, 299–315. London.

Sommerstein, A. H. 2002: The titles of Greek dramas. SemRom V/1: 1–16.

Unger, H. 1911: Untersuchungen zur altattischen Komödie. I. Der Gebrauch des daktylischen Hexameters. Borna-Leipzig.

Willi, A. 2003: The languages of Aristophanes: aspects of linguistic variation in Classical Attic Greek. Oxford.

---. 2008: Sikelismos: Sprache, Literatur und Gesellschaft im griechischen Sizilien (8.-5. Jh. v. Chr.). Basel.

---. 2010: Register variation. In: A Companion to the Ancient Greek language, ed. by E. J. Bakker, 297–310. Malden, Mass., Oxford.

---. 2012: Challenging authority: Epicharmus between epic and rhetoric. In: Theater outside Athens: drama in Greek Sicily and South Italy, ed. by K. Bosher, 56–75. Cambridge-New York.

---. 2015: Epicharmus, the Pseudepicharmeia, and the origins of Attic drama. In: Fragmentary history of Greek comedy, ed. by S. Chronopoulos and C. Orth, 109-145. Heidelberg.

Zielinski, Th. 1887: Quaestiones comicae. Petropoli.