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Menander(mĭnăn`dər), 342?–291? B.C., Greek poet, the most famous writer of New Comedy. He wrote ingenious plays using the love plot as his theme; his style is elegant and elaborate and his characters are highly developed. Although original texts of his plays only came to light beginning in 1906, many fragments of his plays survive; The Curmudgeon, discovered in Cairo in 1957, is Menander's only complete play now extant (tr. by Gilbert Highet, 1959). Seven of his plays were adapted by PlautusPlautus
(Titus Maccius Plautus) , c.254–184 B.C., Roman writer of comedies, b. Umbria. His plays, adapted from those of Greek New Comedy, are popular and vigorous representations of middle-class and lower-class life.
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(Publius Terentius Afer) , b. c.185 or c.195 B.C., d. c.159 B.C., Roman writer of comedies, b. Carthage. As a boy he was a slave of Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator, who brought him to Rome, educated him, and gave him his freedom.
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See studies by T. B. L. Webster (1960, 1974, 1975), A. W. Gomme and F. H. Sandbach (1973).
Born circa 343 B.C.; died circa 291 B.C. Ancient Greek dramatist; a founder of the Greek New Comedy.
Menander belonged to the well-to-do elite of Athenian society. In his plays he focused on everyday life, especially family conflicts. His humanism is revealed in his defense of women and of children’s rights, his exposure of the seamy side of everyday life, and his sympathy for slaves. The names of Menander’s heroes have become epithets. Classical critics praised him highly as a stylist. The New Greek Comedy influenced Roman drama and, consequently, European drama primarily through Menander’s plays.
WORKSMenandri quae supersunt, parts 1-2. Edited by A. Koerte and A. Thier-felder. Leipzig, 1957-59.
In Russian translation:
Nenavistnik. Translation and introduction by A. A. Takho-Godi. In the collection Pisatel’ i zhizn’ [Moscow] 1963.
Komedii. Moscow, 1964.
REFERENCESTronskii, I. M. Istoriia antichnoi literatury, 3rd ed. Leningrad, 1957.
Istoriia grecheskoi literatury, vol. 3. Edited by S. I. Sobolevskii et al. Moscow, 1960.
Webster, T. B. L. Studies in Menander. Manchester, 1960.
Durham, D. B. The Vocabulary of Menander. Amsterdam, 1969.