November 09, 2004

Old Comedy and Satyr Plays

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1. Which of the following vase paintings appear to depict scenes from Old Comedy, and which from Satyr plays?

The Aulos-playing Satyr Vase – Satyr Play

The Cheiron Vase – Old Comedy (vulgar costumes and grotesque figures again)

The Choregos Vase – Old Comedy

The Pronomos Vase – Satyr Play (less vulgar costumes, more serious masks etc.)

The Tarentine Vase – Satyr Play

Vase 96AB113 – Old Comedy

Vase 96AE112 – Old Comedy

The Wurzburg Orestes – Satyr Play

2. Drawing on the evidence provided by these vase paintings, the plays you have read, and other appropriate online sources:

i. what would seem to be the main characteristics of Old Comic masks, costumes and stages?

Grotesque figures,
Exaggerated features,
Small stages used (less grand than those used in tragedies)

ii. what appear to be the main characteristics of Satyr play masks, costumes and actors?

Most often they are depicted as half man, half goat. Also, the masks are much more serious than those used in Old Comedies

3. Read the analytical descriptions for the Pronomos Vase and the Choregos Vase. Using the web-searching and site-evaluation skills that you have developed, find information about, and devise an analytical description that might accompany one of the other vases.

The Vase 96AB113 is clearly depicting a scene from an Old Comedy. The costumes suggest this as they are grotesque and exaggerate features such as the stomach, phallus and chest. The stage depicted in the vase also suggests an Old Comedy as it is very sparse and not as extravagant as those used in tragedies.

4. With reference to the extract from Csapo and Slater on Comic Vases, how reliable are these vase paintings as evidence for 5th-century B.C.E. staging of Old Comedy and Satyr plays in Athens?

The vases do help record an idea of what Old Comedies and Satyr Plays were like e.g the costumes, the staging etc. However, they are based on artistic interpretation and were most probably originally made for visual pleasing e.g for display. Therefore, they are not entirely reliable.

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