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(Publius Terentius Afer) (tĕr`əns), 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. Six comedies by him survive—Andria, Heautontimorumenos, Eunuchus, Phormio, Adelphi, and Hecyra. All are adapted (with considerable liberty) from Greek plays by Menander and others. The writing is polished and urbane, the humor broad, and the characters realistic.


See G. E. Duckworth, The Complete Roman Drama (1942); W. G. Arnott, Menander, Plautus, and Terence (1965).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Publius Terentius Afer). Born circa 195 B.C.; died 159 B.C. Roman dramatist.

Terence was born in Carthage. Between 166 and 160 B.C., he wrote six plays, using the plots and masks of the Greek New Comedy: The Lady of Andros, The Self-tormentor, The Eunuch, and The Brothers were adaptations of plays by Menander, and Phormio and The Mother-in-law were adaptations of plays by Apollodorus of Carystus. In these plays Terence departed from the convention of mixing Greek and Roman elements and from the crude comedy and buffoonery typified by Plautus. Despite the use of the device of contaminatio (adding a character from a second Greek original), the plots in Terence’s comedies develop consistently; his characters, depicted with psychological subtlety, contrast with the accepted pattern. Terence separated the prologue from the plot and used it to make sharp comments on current events and to engage in polemics with literary opponents. Terence had an enormous influence on the togata, the Roman comedy of the mid-second century B.C. His influence can be seen in Moliere’s plays. A. N. Ostrovskii translated the Mother-in-law.


Comédies: Texte établi par J. Marouzeau, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1942–49.
In Russian translation:
Komedii. Moscow, 1934.
Adel’fi. Moscow, 1954.


Tronskii, I. M. Istoriia antichnoi literatury, 3rd ed. Leningrad, 1957. Pages 305–14.
Savel’eva, L. I. Khudozhestvennyi metod Publiia Terentsiia Afra. Kazan, 1960.
Haffter, H. “Terenz und seine künstlerische Eigenart.” Museum Helveticum, 1953, vol. 10, pp. 1–20,73–102.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Latin name Publius Terentius Afer. ?190--159 bc, Roman comic dramatist. His six comedies, Andria, Hecyra, Heauton Timoroumenos, Eunuchus, Phormio, and Adelphoe, are based on Greek originals by Menander
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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