Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

Document Type


Date of this Version

October 1994


This year marks the eightieth anniversary of the first edition of Francis Cornford's The Origin of Attic Comedy, a book that sought the origins and essence of Old Comedy in "primitive" ritual, cult, and myth. The sub-title of Bowie's book on Aristophanes might lead one to expect that he is continuing the project begun by Cornford, and the fact that Cambridge has published both books, even if a mere coincidence, also invites comparison between the two. It is likewise noteworthy that Bowie's book appears at a time when Cornford's work, long repudiated and ridiculed by classicists, has undergone something of a rehabilitation in certain circles. Kenneth Reckford, for example, offered a judicious and generous reappraisal of Cornford's approach in his 1987 study of Aristophanes (Aristophanes' Old-and-New Comedy, Chapel Hill), and just last year Michigan reprinted Cornford's book, with a useful assessment of its reception in twentieth-century scholarship by Jeffrey Henderson.


Reprinted from Bryn Mawr Classical Review, October 10, 1994. Publisher URL:



Date Posted: 27 September 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.