Terence, the Comedies

Terence, the Comedies

Publius Terentius Afer

Language: English

Pages: 367

ISBN: 2:00305345

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Terence (?184-159 BC) was the outstanding comic playwright of his generation at Rome and one of the founding fathers of European comic drama. His plays have been imitated by authors as diverse as the nun Hrothswitha in the tenth century and P. G. Wodehouse in the twentieth. They deal with the love-life of adolescent boys and with associated tensions in their relations with their fathers. They show love triumphing over obstacles of various kinds, and they also portray the problems that arise from ignorance, misunderstanding, and prejudice. They are true to universal elements of human experience, and audiences today can readily engage with the issues they raise. This new translation with introduction and explanatory notes aims to convey the liveliness of the plays as pieces written for the theatre.
Readership: Scholars and students of classical literature, and of English and European comic drama.

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Terence was also imitated in a number of other plays once popular but now almost totally forgotten, such as Shadwell’s The Squire of Alsatia (1688), based on The Brothers. But the more lasting influence has been general and indirect. Plots portraying love affairs, confusion of identity, and misunderstanding were for centuries the dominant type of comic plot in the European dramatic tradition, and boastful soldiers, scheming servants, and rediscovered foundlings have long been standard ingredients

to help from an unexpected quarter. Thais can identify the rapist, and he is very keen to marry Pamphila when he discovers she is a citizen. But Pythias’ determination to punish Parmeno for suggesting the exploit to Chaerea (910–1024) also leads indirectly to the intervention of Chaerea’s father, who would not otherwise have interested himself suYciently to oVer Thais his patronage and protection and allow her to continue her relationship with Phaedria. Thus Chaerea’s unpremeditated and

respectively as ‘the true founder of the modern European stage’ and ‘the most prolific writer of comedy in the sixteenth century’.1 The Eunuch clearly influenced Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister and is generally thought to lie behind Wycherley’s The Country Wife; Molie`re followed Phormio in Les Fourberies de Scapin, and The Brothers in L’E´cole des Maris. Schiller recommended Terence’s comedies to Goethe, who directed adaptations of four of them at Weimar at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Girl from Andros]. Goldberg, Sander M., Understanding Terence (Princeton, 1986). Gratwick, A. S., ‘Drama’, in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, ii. Latin Literature (Cambridge, 1982), 77–137 (This part of CHCL is available as a separate paperback, The Early Republic.) Hunter, R. L., The New Comedy of Greece and Rome (Cambridge, 1985). Konstan, David, Roman Comedy (Ithaca, NY, 1983) [includes chapters on The Mother-in-Law and Phormio]. Konstan, David, Greek Comedy and Ideology

the Megalesian Games, April 166 INTRODUCTORY NOTE ‘If that rascal Davos has any schemes up his sleeve, he can use them up now, when his tricks can’t do any harm. I believe he’ll strain every nerve and do anything he can—and more to be a nuisance to me than to help my son!’ (Simo, at 159–63). Terence’s Wrst play pits a devious father (Simo) in a battle of wits against his devious slave (Davos). Simo wants his son Pamphilus to marry Philumena, the daughter of his wealthy friend Chremes; but both

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