Wallstein Verlag

Luca Giuliani

Clownery with Tragic Hero

Comic Mechanisms in the Theatre

88 pages, 12 x 20
ISBN: 978-3-8353-1266-1 (2013)


German Version

Starting out from the interpretation of a vase painting, Luca Giuliani sheds new light on iconography as a whole, the genre of the comedy and the poetics of Aristotle. Greek and Southern Italian vases from the 4th century BC often depict scenes featuring clownery. What means are used to produce a comical effect in these images, and how do they differ structurally from mythological images with serious themes? The divergence between the two iconographic genres is reflected directly in theatre, i.e. in the difference between comedy and tragedy. One of the characteristics of comedy is that it is in a position to comment on itself or on general aspects of theatre. Although Aristotelian theory distinctly classifies it as an inferior genre, this capacity for self-referentiality gives it quite a different reflective potential than tragedy, in which any form of self-referentiality is forbidden. A similar potential is revealed in some images featuring clownery. Their humour is sometimes based on an unexpectedly sophisticated theory of genres, which is not at all far removed from the comments on this subject found in Aristotelian poetics.

On the self-reflective potential of Greek comedy and Greek images of clownery.

The Author
Luca Giuliani, born in 1950, rector of the Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study) in Berlin and professor of classical archaeology at the Humboldt University Berlin.
Received the Sigmund Freud Prize for Scientific Prose in 2010.
nach oben