The theatre of Ancient Greece flourished between 550 BC and 220 BC. A festival honoring the god Dionysus was held in Athens, out of which three dramatic genres emerged: tragedy, comedy and the satyr play. Greek comedy is divided into Old, Middle, and New Comedy.
Greek comedy was a popular and influential form of theatre performed across ancient Greece. In order to maintain their comic side, the plays also give an indirect but invaluable insight to Greek society in general and provide details on the workings of political institutions, legal systems, religious practices, education, and warfare in Hellenic world. The play also reveals to us something of the identity of the audience and shows just what tickled the Greeks sense of humour. Finally, Greek comedy and its immediate predecessor Greek tragedy would together form the foundation upon which all modern theatre is based.
Old Comedy refers to plays written in the 5th century. The earliest complete play is Aristophanes’ Acharnians, which was first performed in 425 BC.
In the late 14th century, a new style of Greek arrived, although the transition from Old Comedy may have been more gradual than the on going plays suggest. The New Comedy focused more on the plot of the play and often employed recurring stock characters such as cooks, soldiers, pimps, and the cunning slave. The Chorus becomes less important to the plot, (providing only musical interludes between acts) and plays seem to settle on an established five act structure. Another difference is that there seem to be fewer personal attacks (or is that only the impression given by having too few sources to compare with?) The subject of New Comedy also differed and was more concerned with fictional everyday people and their relations with family, other classes, and foreigners