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Part I - The World of Roman Comedy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 March 2019

Martin T. Dinter
King's College London
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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Further Reading

The surviving fragments of Livius Andronicus, Naevius, Ennius, Pacuvius, Accius, and Caecilius Statius are most conveniently accessible in E. H. Warmington’s Remains of Old Latin (19356), including an English translation and a brief commentary. The remains of the works of all fragmentary dramatic poets (with full critical apparatus) are assembled in O. Ribbeck’s Scaenicae Romanorum poesis fragmenta (2nd edn, 1871/1873 and 3rd edn, 1897/1898). The fragments of Caecilius Statius, the palliata poet of whom the largest amount of text is extant (after Plautus and Terence), have been edited by T. Guardì (1974).

Essential information, testimonia, and bibliography on all Republican writers are provided in W. Suerbaum (2002, in German).

A. J. Boyle (2006) is a recent introduction to the contemporary genre of tragedy; G. Manuwald (2001, in German) offers information on the contemporary genre of fabula praetexta. There is no general treatment of fabula togata, but the introductions to editions of the fragments, e.g. A. Daviault (1981, in French) and T. Guardì (1985, in Italian), provide overviews, although the editions themselves have not met with universal approval.

Most works on Roman comedy focus on the plays of Plautus and Terence. J. Wright (1974) is a notable exception as his study includes poets whose dramas only survive in fragments; his analysis is designed to prove that Terence is the exception to an otherwise coherent palliata tradition. More general works on Republican drama such as W. Beare (1964) and G. Manuwald (2011) or on Roman comedy such as G. E. Duckworth (1952/1994) discuss details of context, setting, and generic conventions that apply to all Roman comic poets. N. J. Lowe (2008) surveys the development and the main features of both Greek and Roman comedy. For more details on stagecraft, see C. W. Marshall (2006); on Roman theatre architecture, see F. Sear (2006); and on festivals, see F. Bernstein (1998, in German).

Information on the historical, social, and cultural conditions in the Roman Republic can be found in H. I. Flower (2004) and in N. Rosenstein–R. Morstein-Marx (2006). E. S. Gruen (1990) discusses the period of interaction between Hellenic culture and Roman values, with particular reference to the mutual relationship between cultural activity and politics. M. Leigh (2004) is one of the few works that bridges the gap between cultural studies and analyses of Roman comedy by looking at the links between comedy and the contemporary historical situation.

Further Reading

General monographs on Roman drama tend to focus on the literary versions of popular low theatre, including mime and Campanian comedy. The roots, development, and importance of Latin mime and Atellane comedy in their pre-literary form are rarely discussed in detail. I recommend (for mime) Wüst (1932), Beare (19643) 149–58, Cicu (1988), Fantham (1988), and Panayotakis (2010) 1–32; and (for Atellane comedy) Frassinetti (1953), Beare (19643) 137–48, Petersmann (1989), Lefèvre (2010), and the articles in the recently published edited volume on the pre-literary Atellana: see Raffaelli and Tontini (2013).

Further Reading

Fantham (1978), Gilula (1989), Halporn (1993), Barsby (2002), Danese (2002), and Fontaine (2014d) offer helpful overviews of the relation of Roman comedy to its Greek originals. Following in the footsteps of Leo (1912) and Fraenkel (1960/2007), most of the studies on this topic have shown a prevailing interest in identifying Plautinisches im Plautus and Terentianisches im Terenz, sometimes arriving at problematic results because of the uncertainties in the reconstruction of the Greek models. For a useful appraisal of this methodology, see Lowe (1992) 152–7. Important and fruitful applications of this approach can be found, among others, in Anderson (1993), Arnott (1964b), (2001), Auhagen (2004), Barsby (1993), (2004a), Fantham (1965), (1968a), (1968b), Grant (1975), Handley (2002b), Hunter (1980), (1981), (1987), Lefèvre (1978b), (1995), (1999), (2008), Lowe (2001), (2003), O’Bryhim (1989). On Menander’s The Double Deceiver and Plautus’ Two Sisters Named Bacchis, see the bibliographical references listed above, n. 31; on Caecilius Statius’ Necklace and its Menandrian model, cf. Traina (1974) 41–53, Riedweg (1993), and Fontaine (2014d) 412–14. Sharrock (2009) 163–249 and Fontaine (2014b), (2014c) approach Roman comedy’s engagement with Greek models within the framework of intertextuality and repetition. McElduff (2004) supplies a refreshing assessment of the problem of translation in Terence; Brown (2013) surveys the prologic accounts of Terence’s self-styled relationship with New Comedy.

Further Reading

The most ambitious chronological schemes for Plautus’ plays, and thus also the best compendia of older scholarship on topicality, are still Buck (1940) and Schutter (1952), although such projects are now almost universally dismissed as hopeless. In the more plausible effort to elucidate general cultural politics (including nasty Carthaginian stereotypes, repatriated Roman prisoners of war, suspicious maritime trade, and whether fathers should be stern or lenient), Leigh (2004) is excellent. On Roman culture and Hellenism, not just in comedy, but in the middle Republic more generally, Gruen (1990) and (1992) are indispensable, as is ch. 2 of Habinek (1998). On slavery, McCarthy (2000) and Fitzgerald (2000) should be read together. For rhetoric and theatricality, see Connolly (2007), esp. ch. 1 and 5.

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