January 16, 2013, by Alan Sommerstein

Comedy Jones? HMS Tragedy??

Would you call your son or daughter Comedy?  At least two Greek parents did, more or less, in the fourth century BC.  Inscriptions tell us of a sculptor working at Epidaurus, named Komoidion, and a woman in the perfume business at Delos named Komoidia.

No one (that we know of) named their child Tragedy.  But that couldn’t have been because the name might be thought ill-omened – not if Greek sailors were anything like as superstitious as sailors have often been in later centuries.  Inscribed Athenian naval records reveal that in 377 BC a new warship was named Tragoidia (and about the same time, or not long afterwards, another was named Komoidia).

I will leave the cultural implications of these pieces of data for you to consider.

Posted in ComedyReceptionTragedy