User:Jahsonic/AHE/Greco-Roman/The spectacle of love
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
For both the Greeks and the Romans, theatre is the main source of fiction, film has of course not yet been invented, and the first real novels remain to be written. It goes without saying that tragedy is not only diversion the ancients have a liking for, laughter was high on their wish-list. A large number of improper plays meets that demand.
The forerunner of Roman comedy writers was the Greek scribe Menander (342-291 BC), writer of comedies with evocative titles as The Grouch, Double Deceiver, The Hero, The Flatterer, Drugged Women, Drunkenness, The Man She Hated and The Possessed Girl, titles that would not look out of place on the cover of contemporary airport novels. Love and all its complications are about the only topic in these plays.
A century later, the Roman writer Plautus (250-184 BC) introduces the typical cardboard characters from classic comedy, stereotypical characters like the dirty old men and women of loose morals. In short, in this type of theatre, all women are whores and all men are stupid. Plautus transposes a lot of Greek comedies, including those of Menander, to a Roman setting, and does so in a scintillating Latin. The farces of Terence (c. 195-159 BC.) also hark back to indecent Greek comedies, but they are less frivolous and with greater psychological depth than in those of Plautus. He is best-known today for saying "homo sum, et nihil humanum a me alienum puto" (I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me).
Theatre in Greece originates as a feast in honor of the god Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans), the god of wine and fertility, of ecstasy and the good life. The main companions of Dionysos satyrs and nymphs, the two archetypes of lust. A theatrical genre is even named after this lusty God, the satyr play. It was the custom that after three tragedies, one satyr play performed, consisting of mainly of jocular entertainment with a horny, elated, lazy and drunken character. One must imagine actors with huge strap-on dildos storming the stage like madmen, dispersing the seductive and screaming nymphs.