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uni'wissen 02(4)-2011_ENG

Scary statuette: The long- armed, closely fitting costume identifies the figure as an ­ancient Greek actor. The ­grotesque face represents a comedy mask, not the ­actor’s real face. Photo: Archaeological ­Collection of the University of Freiburg, Inv. S 404 Lost texts are the object of much conjecture. Perhaps the most prominent example is – thanks to Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose – the lost second part of Aristotle’s Poetics, which dealt with comedy. Indeed, the losses are particularly great in this central genre of world literature: The only complete ancient Greek com- edies we possess are eleven plays by Aristo- phanes and one by Menander. However, there are also extensive fragments and textual ac- counts. Some works are preserved in less than 60 different fragments, others in up to 500. Nei- ther their content nor their significance for the history of literature has been properly ascer- tained, and none of them is available in a Ger- man translation. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Zimmermann from the De- partment of Classical Philology of the University of Freiburg and his research group aim to change this with the project “Commentary of Fragments of Greek Comedy.” They will have time enough to do so: The Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities has agreed to fund the project for a period of 15 years. Zimmermann and two research assistants have been editing the frag- ments since January 2011, and the group is ad- vertising two positions for doctoral researchers in 2012. The classical philologist is excited about the potential findings of the project: “Editing these documents will help us throw new light on the history of ancient Greek literature.” Collected in eight volumes, the large mass of fragments will give literary historians a much more compre- hensive overview of the comedies of this epoch. Existing secondary literature relies solely on the known twelve works by Aristophanes and Menander, which is probably less than one per- cent of the entire corpus of classical Greek com- edies. Zimmermann believes that there is a high likelihood that our conception of the genre as a Comedy translation 101: The philologists are ­studying the language, metrics, and measure of the fragments. Photo: Freiburg University Library/Historical ­Collections “Editing these documents will help us throw new light on the history of ancient Greek literature” 17uni'wissen 04