The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

The Distribution of Parts in Menander's Dyskolos 1

John. G. Griffitha1

a1 Jesus College, Oxford

The distribution of parts between the available actors in ancient comedy has frequently engaged critical attention, but it has only recently become possible to test the principles believed to be at work against a play of Menander which is for practical purposes preserved complete. The present inquiry will suggest that either four principal actors are needed or, alternatively, that three actors can carry the major roles between them, provided that the part of Getas is split between two of them and that a supernumerary actor is available for two small parts, together with parachoregemata in a few places and a kophon prosopon twice. It is not easy to choose between these two possibilities, but there may be sufficient hints in the dramatic economy of the play to warrant preference for the three-actor alternative.


1 This paper was written before the spate of literature on this play began to appear. I am very grateful to Mr. H. Lloyd-Jones for showing me the material of his text and to Professor E. G. Turner for an advance copy of an issue of the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies.