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Cover image of The Birth of Comedy - for iPod/iPhone

The Birth of Comedy - for iPod/iPhone

Take the topical satire of Have I Got News For You and mix thoroughly with the adolescent humour of The Inbetweeners, add in a healthy dose of Monty Python-esque absurdity and finish off with lashings of songs and dances. Then serve it all up to a baying crowd in an atmosphere more like a football match than a theatre stage. Welcome to the world of Aristophanes, ‘the father of comedy’. The rise of democracy in ancient Greece produced one of the greatest ever flowerings of culture and gave birth to history, philosophy, science … and fart gags. Theatre first appeared in Athens 2,500 years ago to educate and entertain the growing audience of citizens. However Greek theatre wasn’t a quiet entertainment but a rowdy, competitive sport involving teams of performers battling each other for prizes.In this collection James Robson, Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University, explores the world of Aristophanes and asks what Greek comedy would look and sound like, why is it so rude, and where are all the women?

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Creating a Spectacle: Theatre in Ancient Athens

Why was theatre-going so important to the Athenians? James Robson, Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University, looks at the birth of comedy and the rise of democracy and wonders why we never hear of Spartan stand up.

9mins

15 Aug 2013

Rank #1

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Making Athens Laugh: The Ancient Sense of Humour

Slapstick, satire or stereotypes, just what made the Greeks laugh? In this episode James Robson, Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University, examines the elements of successful Greek comedy.

10mins

15 Aug 2013

Rank #2

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Sex, Swearing and Satire in Aristophanes’ Comedy

Obscenity was a powerful tool in the hands of Greek playwrights. James Robson, Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University, asks how Aristophanes pulled it off.

8mins

15 Aug 2013

Rank #3

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Aristophanes’ Athens

What do Aristophanes’ plays tell us about life in ancient Athens? James Robson, Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University, and his guests discuss the use of literary sources.

14mins

15 Aug 2013

Rank #4

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Aristophanes’ Women

How well do the women in Aristophanes’ plays reflect the lives of real women in ancient Athens? James Robson, Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University, and his guests discuss what we can learn from the gaps in the evidence.

12mins

15 Aug 2013

Rank #5