Publication details [#11389]

Walton, Michael J. 2006. The line or the gag: translating classical comedy. CTIS Occasional Papers 3 : 29–46.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language


Peculiar conditions relate to the transmission of classical drama, its translation and performance, tied to the sheer difference of cultural reference and perspective created by the timescale. It is clear, though, that the leeway offered to translators of comedy for page or stage, while still claiming some ‘faithfulness’ to the source text, is very different to that accorded to tragedy. This is the substance of the current paper. The differing genres of classical comedy are identified, satyr play, Greek old comedy (Aristophanes), Greek new comedy (Menander) and Roman comedy (Plautus and Terence), with the individual issues raised in translating each. Specific examples highlight broader issues relating to the translation of all comedy, ancient or modern. What do we do in versions of ancient comedy for the contemporary stage about questions of anachronism, parochialism and what simply will not travel over the centuries? Should translations differ according to the audience they are being prepared for and the actors who will be acting in them? Everything comes down, it would seem, to context and to brief. [Source: abstract in journal]
Source : Abstract in journal