Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

Document Type


Date of this Version

March 1992


Few formal elements of Old Comedy have troubled scholars as much as the parabasis. In its typical form, this choral "digression" appears to interrupt the dramatic fiction of the play with commentary on contemporary social or political issues and often brazen trumpeting of the poet's virtues. Its apparent discontinuity with the rest of the play encouraged scholars of an earlier age to consider it the original kernel of Comedy onto which dramatic episodes were eventually grafted.


Reprinted from Bryn Mawr Classical Review, March 1, 1991. Publisher URL:



Date Posted: 27 September 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.