We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Hysterical Laughter

Four Ancient Comedies About Women

Translation, Introduction, and Notes by David Christenson

Publication Date - 01 September 2014

ISBN: 9780199797448

304 pages
5 x 8 inches

In Stock

This unique volume uses four of the greatest comedies of the ancient world to examine issues of gender in ancient Greece and Rome


Hysterical Laughter: Four Ancient Comedies About Women is the first text to uniquely employ comedy as a vehicle to explore women, gender, and sexuality in Greek and Roman antiquity. Featuring new, engaging, and accessible translations by David Christenson of four of the finest classical comedies--Lysistrata (Aristophanes), Samia (Menander), Casina (Plautus), and Hecyra (Terence)--it provides instructors with an attractive and innovative way to explore the social and cultural dimensions of ancient theater and the construction of gender roles in ancient society. The volume is enhanced by an extensive general introduction and includes an introduction, notes, and essays for each comedy, all of which assume no prior background in classical studies. Ideal for courses in classical literature in translation and women in the ancient world, Hysterical Laughter can also be used in a variety of other courses in ancient history, women's studies, cultural studies, and theater.

About the Author(s)

David Christenson is Professor of Classics at the University of Arizona. He is the translator of Roman Comedy: Five Plays by Plautus and Terence (2010), Plautus: Casina, Amphitryon, Captivi, Pseudolus (2008), and Plautus: Amphitruo (2000). He was awarded a Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship in 2011-12.


"Hysterical Laughter features four classic Greek and Roman plays-- Lysistrata, Samia, Casina, and Hecyra-- each starring strong female characters. Each play is an excellent example of these great playwrights' work, and juxtaposing them brings out both similarities and differences in their ideas and their stagecraft. As the author demonstrates, each play challenges its society's ideas about women and gender roles, using hilarious comic techniques. The translations are close, but very lively, boldly including the originals' vulgarity and even obscenity; they ought to be staged as well as read. The introductions, informed by the latest scholarship, provide information about women in the ancient world and the original performance conditions; the notes are succinct and helpful, the bibliographies excellent. This book will be ideal in classical studies, history, theater, and women's studies classes."--Mary-Kay Gamel, University of California, Santa Cruz

Table of Contents

    About the Translator
    Greek Old Comedy
    Greek New Comedy
    Roman Comedy
    Women in the Ancient World
    Aristophanes' Lysistrata
    Menader's Samia
    Plautus' Casina
    Terence's Hecyra
    Appendix: Olympian Deities