Terence

Classical Comedy
  • Classical Comedy

  • From the fifth to the second century BC, innovative comedy drama flourished in Greece and Rome. This collection brings together the greatest works of Classical comedy, with two early Greek plays: Aristophanes' bold, imaginative Birds, and Menander's The Girl from Samos, which explores popular contemporary themes of mistaken identity and sexual misbehaviour; and two later Roman comic plays: Plautus' The Brothers Menaechmus - the original comedy of errors - and Terence's bawdy yet sophisticated double love-plot, The Eunuch. Together, these four plays demonstrate the development of Classical comedy, celebrating its richness, variety and extraordinary legacy to modern drama.

Terence (c.186-159) was born at Carthage of Libyan parentage, and was brought Rome as a young slave. According to Roman tradition his talents and good looks won him an education, manumissions, and entry to a patrician literary circle, with whose encouragement he wrote six Latin plays, modelled on Greek New Comedy. Only one, The Eunuch, was a popular success in his lifetime but he was read and admired in Roman times and became the main influence on Renaissance comedy. Betty Radice was one of the greatest translators of her lifetime, and translated many titles for the Penguin Classics including Erasmus's Praise of Folly and Livy. She died in 1985.

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