A city of laughter: assessing Tarentine comedy from the fourth century to the Roman stage
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Following the publication of Trendall’s Phlyax Vases, the history of comedic theatre in Magna Graecia received a great amount of scholarly attention, culminating in such important works as Taplin’s Comic Angels, Green’s Theatre in Ancient Greek Society and most recently Bosher’s dissertation, Theater on the Periphery. This work is, in many ways, a supplement to their collective research, and assesses the literary and material evidence for the development of comedy in the Apulian city of Tarentum. The analysis of textual evidence will begin by investigating Tarentine interactions with Attic theatre in the beginning of the fourth century and leading to the influence of its comic tradition on the early stages of Republican Rome through the works of Rhinthon and Livius Andronicus. An assessment of the Roman historiographical treatment of Greek theatrical influence and the vibrant Bacchic cult practices observed in the festivals of Tarentum will round out discussion of literary and textual evidence A general overview of fourth century comedic iconography production will begin the section on material culture. In this context, some notable individual pieces adduced by Taplin and Green will be addressed before other iconographpic material from Tarentine coinage and other sources will be presented. The conclusion from this body of evidence affirms a vibrant and independent tradition of comedic theatre in Tarentum that was at once amalgamative through its interactions with the festivals of the Hellenistic period and conceptually autochthonic for the Tarentines themselves.