Titus Maccius Plautus

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Plautus, Titus Maccius

 

Born in the mid-third century B.C. in Sarsina, Umbria; died circa 184 B.C. in Rome. Roman writer of comedy.

Biographical data on Plautus are meager. A renowned master of the comoedia palliata, he wrote 21 comedies, 20 of which have come down to us in satisfactory condition. Plautus retained the plots and masks of the Greek originals, which include several comedies by Menander; he enriched the action, however, by contaminating, or blending, the originals, as in Miles gloriosus (The Braggart Warrior). Asinaria (A Comedy of Asses) and other plays are considerably closer than their originals to archaic folk theater and its carnival air and buffoonery. The loosely connected scenes are rich in comic devices and combine clowning, pantomime, lively dialogue, and songs. Plautus caricatures everyday life as depicted in Greek New Comedy; the clash of features from Greek and Roman life lends an atmosphere of fantasy to the plays. Characters in Plautus have traits of the grotesque. The intriguing slave becomes a major character and emerges as the principal hero in the Bacchides (The Two Bacchises), Mostellaria (The Haunted House), Pseudolus, and other plays. As Plautus ridicules the silliness of Greek mores, he touches upon issues current in Rome of his day. Plautus’ language is not only an outstanding achievement in comedic speech but is also a unique relic of conversational Latin.

EDITIONS

Comédies, vols. 1–7. Edited by A. Ernout. Paris, 1932–42.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. komedii, vols. 1–3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1933–37.
Izbr. komedii. Moscow, 1967.

REFERENCES

Dobroliubov, N. A. “O Plavte i ego znachenii dlia izucheniia rimskoi zhizni.” Sobr. soch., vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1961
Savel’eva, L. I. Priemy komizma u Plavta. Kazan, 1963.
Taladoire, B. A. Essai sur le comique de Plaute. Monaco, 1956.
Paratore, E. Plauto. Florence, 1962.
Segal, E. Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus. Cambridge, Mass. [1968].

K. P. POLONSKAIA

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