Classics Plautus
by
Susanna Braund
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0083

Introduction

Titus Maccius Plautus, from Sarsina in Umbria, wrote plays at the turn of the 3rd into the 2nd century BCE; only two can be dated (200 and 191 BCE). Gratwick 1973 (cited under Introductory Works) shows that his name is probably a pseudonym, indicating close connection with Italian performance culture. Although 130 plays were attributed to him, 21 were ultimately regarded as genuine in Antiquity, and these plays have been transmitted to us; other fragments exist. Most are adaptations from Greek New Comedy written by Menander, Diphilus, and Philemon, and hence we name them fabulae palliatae, although Amphitruo shows the influence of other forms of drama, such as the phlyakes, farces performed in southern Italy (see Bieber 1971, cited under Introductory Works). Plautus Romanized and Latinized a number of features in the plays and invented material of his own, inspired by native forms of drama, such as farce, and improvised forms of comic entertainment. See General Overviews and Relationship to Greek Models.

Introductory Works

Plautus was a very successful dramatist (Parker 1996). For brief introductions, see Chiarini 2004 and Wright 1982 as well as the general books on Roman comedy listed in the Oxford Bibliographies Online article Latin Drama. Beare 1977 and above all Duckworth 1994 remain indispensable. Conte 1994 is essential orientation for undergraduates.

  • Beare, William. 1977. The Roman stage: A short history of Latin drama in the time of the republic. 3d ed. London: Methuen.

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    Still the standard account in English of the practicalities of the Roman stage under the republic. Covers origins, dramatists, genres, organization of staging, spectators, actors.

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    • Bieber, Margarete. 1971. The history of the Greek and Roman theater. 2d ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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      Still valuable illustrated study of Greek and Roman theater, especially the physical aspects of dramatic performances, using a wide variety of sources. First published in 1939.

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      • Chiarini, Gioachino. 2004. Introduzione al teatro latino. Milan: A. Mondadori.

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        Brief overview of Plautus on pages 69–85.

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        • Conte, Gian Biagio. 1994. Latin literature: A history. Translated by Joseph B. Solodow. Revised by Don Fowler and Glenn W. Most. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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          This essential literary history discusses Plautus on pages 49–64.

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          • Duckworth, George E. 1994. The nature of Roman comedy: A study in popular entertainment. 2d ed. Foreword and bibliographical appendix by Richard Hunter. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

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            Still a standard work with full discussion of the origins, nature, staging, themes, characters, and language of Roman comedy.

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            • Gratwick, A. S. 1973. Titus Maccius Plautus. Classical Quarterly 23:78–84.

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              Discussion of the three elements in Plautus’s name, with the conclusion that the name is a pseudonym with the sense “Phallus son of Clown the Mime-actor.”

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              • Parker, Holt. 1996. Plautus vs. Terence: Audience and popularity re-examined. American Journal of Philology 117:585–617.

                DOI: 10.1353/ajp.1996.0058Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                Opposes the orthodoxy that Plautus was popular with the crowds while Terence was a failure, making the case for the ancient appreciation of Terence without diminishing Plautus’s achievement.

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                • Wright, John. 1982. Plautus. In Ancient writers: Greece and Rome. Vol. 1, Homer to Caesar. Edited by T. James Luce, 501–532. New York: Scribner.

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                  Excellent introduction to Plautus and his world, with each play considered separately. Includes a selective bibliography.

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                  General Overviews

                  Much of the older scholarship on Plautus was concerned with his relationship with his Greek models: see Relationship to Greek Models. Nineteenth-century scholarship stressed his indebtedness to the Greek sources, but Fraenkel 2007 shifted the emphasis to the study of Plautus himself. So although some recent scholarship in English continues the Continental concern with the extent of Plautus’s dependence on or independence from Greek models (e.g., Anderson 1993), the most valuable and exciting work focuses on topics such as the Saturnalian reversal of values in the plays (Segal 1987), on metatheater (Slater 2000), and on performance (Moore 1998 and Marshall 2006). Useful discussion of the trends in Plautine scholarship in English, German, and Italian is found in Wiles 1988.

                  • Anderson, William S. 1993. Barbarian play: Plautus’ Roman comedy. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press.

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                    Advocate of Plautus’s genius in creating “Roman play” from Greek New Comedy; covers plots, character, language, and his rejection or deconstruction of Menandrian comedy for the entertainment of his Roman audience.

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                    • Fraenkel, Eduard. 2007. Plautine elements in Plautus. Translated by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                      English translation of the seminal book, first published in German in 1922, Plautinisches im Plautus (Berlin: Weidmann), and in Italian in 1960 (Florence: La Nuova Italia), with forty-five pages of addenda by Fraenkel updating his earlier views on the interrelationship between Plautus’s plays and their Greek originals through a study of Plautine ways of thinking and expression.

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                      • Marshall, C. W. 2006. The stagecraft and performance of Roman comedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Full study of the mechanics of staging and performing a Roman comedy with a controversial final chapter on improvisation. Mainly concerned with Plautus.

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                        • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. The theatre of Plautus: Playing to the audience. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                          Analysis of Plautine theater with a focus on Plautus’s manipulation of the actor-audience relationship. Part 1 provides a sound overview of Plautine theatricality, and Part 2 considers individual plays (Pseudolus, Amphitruo, Curculio, Truculentus, Casina, Captivi) with shorter discussions of other plays throughout.

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                          • Segal, Erich. 1987. Roman laughter: The comedy of Plautus. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                            Highly accessible overview of Plautine comedy with a focus on the Roman features of the plays; sets them in their historical context and argues that they present a Saturnalian reversal of Roman values legitimized by the festival occasion. Segal’s approach is informed by Freudian views of repression; his focus is on domestic relations. The approach is similar to Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of the carnivalesque (although Segal does not mention Bakhtin). Discusses all twenty plays in more or less depth.

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                            • Slater, Niall W. 2000. Plautus in performance: The theatre of the mind. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.

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                              Groundbreaking study, first published in 1985 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press), of theater and metatheater in Plautus, concentrating on six plays—Epidicus, Persa, Asinaria, Casina, Bacchides, and Pseudolus—with appendixes that touch on aspects of other plays, including improvisation.

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                              • Wiles, David. 1988. Taking farce seriously: Recent critical approaches to Plautus. In Farce. Edited by James Redmond, 261–271. Themes in Drama 10. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                Discussion of recent and current scholarship on Plautus; views Plautus as a creative fusion of Greek tradition and indigenous traditions.

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                                Bibliographical Surveys

                                The wide range of bibliographic resources available to scholars ranges from lists (e.g., Hughes 1975, Bubel 1992) to valuable discussion of individual items and trends in Plautine scholarship (e.g., Hanson 1965–1966, Segal 1981). Forman 1978 is a useful tool for students.

                                • Bertini, Ferruccio. 1971. Venti’ anni di studi plautini in Italia (1950–1970). Bollettino di Studi Latini 1:23–41.

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                                  Provides summaries and comments mainly but not exclusively on Italian scholarship.

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                                  • Bubel, Frank. 1992. Bibliographie zu Plautus, 1976–1989. Bonn, Germany: R. Habelt.

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                                    Bibliography organized as lists without discussion.

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                                    • Fogazza, Donatella. 1976. Plauto 1935–1975. Lustrum 19:79–295.

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                                      Enormous bibliography organized as lists with some discussion, comprising over twelve hundred items.

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                                      • Forman, R. J. 1978. The classical world bibliography of Roman drama and poetry and ancient fiction. New York: Garland.

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                                        Annotated bibliographical guide to scholarship on ancient drama, with brief introduction on the evolution of classical drama. Aimed at students, the bibliography is a guide to readily available translations, commentaries, and criticism. Deals with Plautus on pp. 151–165.

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                                        • Hanson, J. A. 1965–1966. Scholarship on Plautus since 1950. Classical World 59:103–107, 126–129, 141–148.

                                          DOI: 10.2307/4345840Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          Intelligent digest of the trends in scholarship with extensive discussion of general topics and specific plays clearly delineating the differences between German and Italian scholarship on Plautus.

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                                          • Hughes, J. David. 1975. A bibliography of scholarship on Plautus. Amsterdam: A. M. Hakkert.

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                                            Enormous list of 2,328 items of Plautine scholarship from the mid-19th century on, excluding editions, but without summaries or comments.

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                                            • Segal, Erich. 1981. Scholarship on Plautus, 1965–1976. Classical World 74:353–433.

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                                              Extension of Hanson 1965–1966 using the same principles of organization.

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                                              Text

                                              Treatment of the text (e.g., Plauti comoediae, T. Macci Plauti comoediae) is generally conservative; it is to be hoped that the Sarsina editions (Editio Plautina Sarsinatis) produced by the group of Plautine scholars at the University of Urbino will be definitive. On the transmission, see T. Macci Plauti comoediae and Tarrant 1983.

                                              • Lindsay, W. M. 1904. Ancient editions of Plautus. Oxford: James Parker.

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                                                Citations of Plautus in ancient writers; Ambrosian and Palatine archetypes. The revival of Plautine drama during the last century of the republic generated a split in the textual tradition between genuine and revival texts.

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                                                • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1910. T. Macci Plauti comoediae. Rev. ed. Edited by W. M. Lindsay. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                  The standard and most recent critical edition; textually rather conservative. The twenty-one plays, including the fragmentary Vidularia, are organized in alphabetical order, followed by fragments. Originally published in 1904–1905.

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                                                  • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1958. Plauti comoediae. Edited by F. Leo. 2 vols. Berlin: Weidmann.

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                                                    Though older than the Oxford Classical Text (OCT), having first appeared in 1895–1896, this edition of Plautus’s comedies has a more thorough critical apparatus.

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                                                    • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1995. Titi Macci Plauti cantica. Edited by Cesare Questa. Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                      Contains the texts of all the cantica (lyric passages) in Plautus’s plays, in alphabetical order, with apparatus criticus and facing metrical analysis.

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                                                      • Tarrant, R. J. 1983. Plautus. In Texts and transmission: A survey of the Latin classics. Edited by L. D. Reynolds, 302–307. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                        Sensible and clear survey of complicated transmission of the text of Plautus from Antiquity.

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                                                        Translations

                                                        Translations into English range from the prose translations of the now dated Loeb Classical Library (by Paul Nixon in Plautus) and Penguin Classics (by E. F. Watling in The rope and other plays and The pot of gold and other plays) editions to inventive verse translations by P. L. Smith (Three comedies: Miles gloriosus, Pseudolus, Rudens), Amy Richlin (Rome and the mysterious Orient: Three plays by Plautus), and Erich Segal (Four comedies), of which Richlin’s is the most unusual.

                                                        • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1916–1938. Plautus. Edited and translated by Paul Nixon. 5 vols. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                          Prose translation based on the Oxford Classical Text but with notes indicating the views of F. Leo in Plautus 1958 (cited under Text). Despite being dated and stiff, it sometimes provides excellent translations of Plautine jokes.

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                                                          • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1964. The rope and other plays. Translated by E. F. Watling. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

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                                                            Serviceable prose translations of Mostellaria, Rudens, Trinummus, and Amphitruo with an introduction on Plautus’s life and work and on his influence on English and French comedy.

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                                                            • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1965. The pot of gold and other plays. Translated by E. F. Watling. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

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                                                              Serviceable prose translations of Aulularia, Captivi, Menaechmi, Miles gloriosus, and Pseudolus.

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                                                              • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1983. The darker comedies: Bacchides, Casina, and Truculentus. Translated by James Tatum. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                Free translations, designed for performance, of three plays that lack cheerful resolution, with a brief introduction.

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                                                                • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1991. Three comedies: Miles gloriosus, Pseudolus, Rudens. Translated by P. L. Smith. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                  Free verse translation of three plays reflecting the differences between regular dialogue and recitative and lyric passages (cantica). Based on the Oxford Classical Text.

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                                                                  • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2006. Rome and the mysterious Orient: Three plays by Plautus. Translated by Amy Richlin. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                    Bold translation into modern American English of three plays dealing with other cultures: Curculio becomes Weevil, Persa becomes Iran Man, and Poenulus becomes Towelheads. Line-for-line translation in varied meters corresponding to the Latin meters, which are marked in the text. Uses rap rhythms and rhymes successfully: these are performable scripts. But the contemporary American references will quickly date. Lengthy introduction (fifty-three pages) plus introductions to each play and extensive notes. Reviewed by Vincent Hunink in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2006.05.35.

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                                                                    • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2008a. Four comedies. Translated by Erich Segal. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                      Useful introduction and lively translation of four plays—Miles gloriosus, Menaechmi, Mostellaria, and Aulularia—into free verse, mostly iambic, with rhyme in the prologues and cantica (lyric passages).

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                                                                      • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2008b. Four plays: Casina, Amphitryon, Captivi, Pseudolus. Translated by David Christenson. Newburyport, MA: Focus.

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                                                                        Translation that uses line breaks but without any poetic form, aimed at the general reader new to Plautus. Avoids the extremes of slavish literalism and contemporary idiom. Reviewed by Vincent Hunink in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009.07.03.

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                                                                        Individual Plays

                                                                        The titles of the extant plays are Amphitruo (the name of a character, see Amphitruo), Asinaria (The story about the asses, see Asinaria), Aulularia (The pot of gold, see Aulularia), Bacchides (The Bacchis sisters, see Bacchides), Captivi (The captives, see Captivi), Casina (the name of a character, see Casina), Cistellaria (The story about the little box, see Cistellaria), Curculio (the name of a character, see Curculio), Epidicus (the name of a character, see Epidicus), Menaechmi (The Menaechmus brothers, see Menaechmi), Mercator (The merchant, see Mercator), Miles gloriosus (The braggart soldier, see Miles gloriosus), Mostellaria (The little ghost story, see Mostellaria), Persa (The man from Persia, see Persa), Poenulus (The little Carthaginian, see Poenulus), Pseudolus (the name of a character, see Pseudolus), Rudens (The rope, see Rudens), Stichus (the name of a character, see Stichus), Trinummus (The three pennies, see Trinummus), Truculentus (the name of a character, see Truculentus), and Vidularia (The story about the suitcase, see Vidularia).

                                                                        Amphitruo

                                                                        The play, designated a tragicomoedia (tragicomedy) in the prologue (Bond 1999), is Plautus’s only one on a mythological theme and his only play to bring gods on stage. On the possible influence of other forms of drama, including the phlyakes, farces performed in southern Italy, see Bieber 1971 (pp. 258–300). Christenson 2000 marks a significant advance on the older school editions. For analysis of aspects of the play, see Moore 1998, Baier 1999, and O’Neill 2003. The story has generated many imitations and rehandlings, discussed in Costa 1965.

                                                                        • Baier, Thomas, ed. 1999. Studien zur Plautus Amphitruo. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                          Nine essays on the play addressing especially its tragic aspects. In German.

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                                                                          • Bieber, Margarete. 1971. The history of the Greek and Roman theater. 2d ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                            Still valuable illustrated study of Greek and Roman theater, especially the physical aspects of dramatic performances, using a wide variety of sources. Originally published in 1939.

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                                                                            • Bond, R. P. 1999. Plautus’ Amphitryo as tragi-comedy. Greece and Rome 46:203–220.

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                                                                              Exploration of the label “tragicomedy.”

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                                                                              • Costa, C. D. N. 1965. The Amphitryo theme. In Roman drama. Edited by T. A. Dorey and D. R. Dudley, 87–122. New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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                                                                                Examines four of the plays inspired by Plautus’s Amphitruo: those of Molière, John Dryden, Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist, and Jean Giraudoux.

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                                                                                • Galinsky, G. Karl. 1966. Scipionic themes in Plautus’ Amphitruo. Transactions of the American Philological Association 97:203–235.

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                                                                                  Argues that the play concerns themes connected with Scipio and his circle without allowing any easy identifications from characters to Roman political life.

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                                                                                  • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. The theatre of Plautus: Playing to the audience. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                    Analysis of Plautine theater with a focus on Plautus’s manipulation of the actor-audience relationship, including discussion of Amphitruo in Part 2 (pp. 108–125).

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                                                                                    • O’Neill, Peter. 2003. Triumph songs, reversal, and Plautus’ Amphitruo. Ramus 32:1–38.

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                                                                                      Views Amphitruo’s humiliation and reestablishment in authority at the end of the play in the cultural and political context of victorious generals returning to celebrate triumphs, with special attention to the apotropaic aspect of the triumph.

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                                                                                      • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2000. Amphitruo. Edited by David M. Christenson. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                        Substantial introduction (pp. 1–80), text, and commentary aimed primarily at students but also useful for scholars. Lists differences between his text and those of F. Leo and W. M. Lindsay at pp. 77–80. Introduction includes discussion of music and meter (pp. 56–71) and the important topic of the play’s influence on later literature (pp. 71–75).

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                                                                                        Asinaria

                                                                                        The play, based on a Greek original by Demophilus called Onagos (The muleteer), is well served by the recent edition of John Henderson (Asinaria, the one about the asses). For discussion of Plautus’s relation to his sources, see Lowe 1992 and the two essays in Lefèvre, et al. 1991. Konstan 1983 provides the socioeconomic context for the play, while Slater 2000 and Marshall 2006 focus on aspects of dramaturgy.

                                                                                        • Konstan, David. 1983. Roman comedy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                                          Includes a chapter on Asinaria relating the play to contemporary social issues: the theme of materialism is pervasive, and although the play offers variations on comic archetypes, it reasserts society’s basic moral code.

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                                                                                          • Lefèvre, Eckard, Ekkehard Stärk, and Gregor Vogt-Spira. 1991. Plautus barbarus: Sechs Kapitel zur Originalität des Plautus. ScriptOralia 25. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                            Six essays, including one on Asinaria, arguing that Plautus followed an Attic original either minimally or not at all but was influenced by popular mimic drama.

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                                                                                            • Lowe, J. C. B. 1992. Aspects of Plautus’ originality in the Asinaria. Classical Quarterly 42:152–175.

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                                                                                              A useful survey of trends in Plautine scholarship, especially views of contaminatio (combining two different Greek models), followed by overview of the play with analysis of particular scenes, demonstrating Plautus’s skills in adaptation of his models.

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                                                                                              • Marshall, C. W. 2006. The stagecraft and performance of Roman comedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                Detailed study of the mechanics of staging and performing a Roman comedy, with particular attention to three Plautus plays, including Asinaria.

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                                                                                                • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2006. Asinaria, the one about the asses. Edited and translated by John Henderson. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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                                                                                                  Latin text with facing English translation, followed by commentary and analysis organized in five chapters, an unusual format. Both translation and commentary are couched in Henderson’s characteristically demanding and postmodern style. Reviewed by Vincent Hunink in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.01.03.

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                                                                                                  • Slater, Niall W. 2000. Plautus in performance: The theatre of the mind. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.

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                                                                                                    Groundbreaking study, first published in 1985 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press), of theater and metatheater in Plautus, including discussion of Asinaria (pp. 55–69).

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                                                                                                    Aulularia

                                                                                                    One of Plautus’s best-known plays, Aulularia is possibly based on an original by Menander. Lefèvre 2001 covers all the standard issues. Konstan 1983 is essential reading, because it broadens the usual range of questions asked about Plautus.

                                                                                                    • Konstan, David. 1983. Roman comedy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                      Includes a brilliant chapter on Aulularia relating the play to contemporary social issues: the corruption of the dowry system leads to a wider disintegration of social ties.

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                                                                                                      • Lefèvre, Eckard. 2001. Plautus’ Aulularia. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                        Overview of earlier scholarship and detailed analysis of the characters, structure, worldview, and reception of the play. In German.

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                                                                                                        Bacchides

                                                                                                        Based on Menander’s Dis exapatōn (The double deceiver), this play has a complex dual structure (two love affairs; see Slater 2000). Because we have a fragment of the Greek original, we are able to compare Plautus with his model most fruitfully (Handley 1968 and Bain 1979). The play is served by an English student edition (Bacchides), a vitiated Italian edition written in Latin (Bacchides), and a detailed German study (Zwierlein 1992). In an exciting metatheatrical reading, Slater 2000 suggests that Plautus uses the cunning slave Chrysalus to indicate the constraints of the genre.

                                                                                                        • Bain, David. 1979. Plautus vortit barbare: Plautus Bacchides 526–561 and Menander Dis exapaton 102–112. In Creative imitation and Latin literature. Edited by David West and Tony Woodman, 17–34. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                          Overview of the implications for Plautine studies of discoveries of fragments of Menander, with a case study.

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                                                                                                          • Handley, Eric W. 1968. Menander and Plautus: A study in comparison. London: H. K. Lewis.

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                                                                                                            An important moment in Plautine studies: a close parallel study of forty-four lines of Menander’s Dis exapatōn with Plautus’s adaptation at Bacchides 494–562. Handley demonstrates the essentially Plautine features and confirms some of Edouard Fraenkel’s views (Fraenkel 2007, cited under Relationship to Greek Models).

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                                                                                                            • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1986. Bacchides. Edited and translated by John Barsby. Warminster, UK: Aris and Phillips.

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                                                                                                              Introduction (pp. 1–23), facing text and prose translation, notes geared to the translation, and appendix with the fragment of Menander’s Dis exapatōn in Greek and English. Uses Oxford Classical Text (OCT) minor changes. The text and translation have stress marks to indicate where the Plautine meter changes. Series is aimed at those with little Latin.

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                                                                                                              • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2008. Bacchides. Edited by Cesare Questa. Editio Plautina Sarsinatis 4. Sarsina and Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                                                                                This is Questa’s third edition (after 1965 and 1975). Codicology and metrics are the chief concern here. His second edition included the new Menander fragments plus discussion, but the Sarsina series format excludes that vital material. Written in Latin.

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                                                                                                                • Slater, Niall W. 2000. Plautus in performance: The theatre of the mind. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.

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                                                                                                                  Groundbreaking study, first published in 1985 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press), of theater and metatheater in Plautus, including discussion of Bacchides (pp. 94–117).

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                                                                                                                  • Zwierlein, Otto. 1992. Zur Kritik und Exegese des Plautus. Vol. 4, Bacchides. Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, Jahrgang 1992, Nr. 4. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.

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                                                                                                                    Argues that Plautus wrote plays that were very faithful to their Greek models and that departures from the Greek originals are the result of interpolations in the century following the death of Plautus, perhaps by actors. Represents a completely opposing view to that of Eckard Lefèvre and other members of the Freiburg school, who argue for an extremely original Plautus whose texts owed more to the Italian folk tradition than to Greek plays.

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                                                                                                                    Captivi

                                                                                                                    Unusual within Plautus’s oeuvre for the absence of a love story and of characters such as the pimp and the courtesan, Captivi explores the mutual devotion of master and slave in the aftermath of a war. The 1900 W. M. Lindsay edition is reprinted in The Captivi of Plautus. Konstan 1983 and Leigh 2004 both focus on the contemporary Roman sociohistorical context. Leach 1969 studies the role of the parasite, while McCarthy 2000 and Moore 1998 examine attitudes toward slaves and masters.

                                                                                                                    • Konstan, David. 1983. Roman comedy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                      Includes a chapter on Captivi relating the play to contemporary social issues, in particular the contradictions generated by the institution of slavery.

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                                                                                                                      • Leach, Eleanor Winsor. 1969. Ergasilus and the ironies of the Captivi. Classica et Medievalia 30:263–296.

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                                                                                                                        Reexamination of the role of the parasite Ergasilus: he is a critic of others’ behaviors as they deteriorate from unique into stock characters.

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                                                                                                                        • Leigh, Matthew. 2004. Comedy and the rise of Rome. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199266760.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Interpretation of Plautus and Terence informed by reconstruction of the collective psychology of wartime Rome in the 2nd century BCE, using Polybius, Livy, and other historians. Includes a chapter on Captivi.

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                                                                                                                          • McCarthy, Kathleen. 2000. Slaves, masters, and the art of authority in Plautine comedy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                            Study of Plautus’s clever slave character, including a reading of Captivi.

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                                                                                                                            • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. The theatre of Plautus: Playing to the audience. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                              Analysis of Plautine theater with a focus on Plautus’s manipulation of the actor-audience relationship, including discussion of Captivi in Part 2 (pp. 181–196).

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                                                                                                                              • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1979. The Captivi of Plautus. Edited by W. M. Lindsay. Salem, NH: Ayer.

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                                                                                                                                Text and detailed commentary focusing chiefly on grammar and textual matters; the lengthy introduction deals with prosody and meter. Originally published 1900 (London: Methuen).

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                                                                                                                                Casina

                                                                                                                                This lively play, one of Plautus’s latest, dating from 185/184 BCE and based on Diphilus’s Kleroumenoe (Lot drawers), benefits from two recent editions, of which W. T. MacCary and M. M. Willcock (Casina) is designed for use in the classroom. McCarthy 2000 and Way 2000 discuss slaves in the play, an issue of larger significance throughout Plautus. Beacham 1991 discusses the play as theater and Williams 1993 as metatheater. Slater 2000 finds the play darker than most through the threat to the system of comedy represented by the character Lysidamus, while Moore 1998 sees the play as the victory of the matron Cleostrata. Malamud 2001 shows how elements of the play informed the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

                                                                                                                                • Beacham, Richard C. 1991. The Roman theatre and its audience. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                  Overview of the history of the Roman theater from the perspective of a theater historian and producer; includes a discussion of Plautus’s stagecraft in Casina (pp. 86–116).

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                                                                                                                                  • Malamud, Margaret. 2001. A funny thing happened on the way from Brooklyn: Roman comedy on Broadway and in film. Arion 8:33–51.

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                                                                                                                                    Delightful exploration of how Plautus’s plays—especially Casina, Miles gloriosus, and Pseudolus—informed the Stephen Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

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                                                                                                                                    • McCarthy, Kathleen. 2000. Slaves, masters, and the art of authority in Plautine comedy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                      Study of Plautus’s clever slave character, including a reading of Casina.

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                                                                                                                                      • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. The theatre of Plautus: Playing to the audience. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                                        Analysis of Plautine theater with a focus on Plautus’s manipulation of the actor-audience relationship, including discussion of Casina in Part 2 (pp. 158–180).

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                                                                                                                                        • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1976. Casina. Edited by W. T. MacCary and M. M. Willcock. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                          Introduction (pp. 1–38), text with apparatus criticus, and commentary aimed primarily at students but also useful for scholars. Has a useful appendix (pp. 211–232) on scansion of Plautine verse.

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                                                                                                                                          • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2001. Casina. Edited by Cesare Questa. Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                                                                                                            New series. Text with double apparatus, the first reporting details of scene headings, line attributions, colometry; the second reporting variants and conjectures, both older and more recent. Especially valuable for scholars is the inclusion of full ancient testimoniums and quotations omitted by the Oxford Classical Text (OCT). List of editions and commentaries precedes the text.

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                                                                                                                                            • Slater, Niall W. 2000. Plautus in performance: The theatre of the mind. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.

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                                                                                                                                              Groundbreaking study, first published in 1985 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press), of theater and metatheater in Plautus, including discussion of Casina (pp. 70–93).

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                                                                                                                                              • Way, M. L. 2000. Violence and the performance of class in Plautus’ Casina. Helios 27:187–206.

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                                                                                                                                                The function of slave-specific violence was part of the dehumanization of the slave, salving the elite’s discomfort with the patent humanity of slaves.

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                                                                                                                                                • Williams, Bronwyn. 1993. Games people play: Metatheatre as performance criticism in Plautus’ Casina. Ramus 22:33–59.

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                                                                                                                                                  Offers analysis of the play’s metatheatrical design and content as affecting the performers and goes on to suggest that Plautus is particularly interested in role-play and gamesmanship in human relationships.

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                                                                                                                                                  Cistellaria

                                                                                                                                                  Based on Menander’s Synaristosae (Ladies who lunch) and written before 201 BCE, this play shows Plautus adapting Menander’s specifically Athenian material to make it relevant to a Roman audience (Konstan 1983).

                                                                                                                                                  • Hartkamp, R., and F. Hurka, eds. 2004. Studien zu Plautus Cistellaria. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                    Thirty essays in German, Italian, English, French, and Spanish covering many aspects of interpretation of the play, including relationship with Menander, gender issues, date, meter, language, and reception.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Konstan, David. 1983. Roman comedy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                      Includes a chapter on Cistellaria relating the play to contemporary social issues, in particular attitudes toward citizen and alien women.

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                                                                                                                                                      Curculio

                                                                                                                                                      Plautus’s shortest surviving play except Vidularia; the recent Italian edition by Septimus Lanciotti (Curculio) is aimed at scholars and John Wright’s (Curculio) at students. Zwierlein 1990 and Lefèvre, et al. 1991 discuss possible sources. Its unusual setting at Epidaurus and lack of a prologue are issues addressed by Fantham 1965. Moore 1998 shows how the play delivers satire of Rome by depicting an Epidaurus in which fides does not exist and then linking that with Rome. Marshall 2006 looks at aspects of stagecraft.

                                                                                                                                                      • Fantham, Elaine. 1965. The Cvrcvlio of Plautus: An illustration of Plautine methods in adaptation. Classical Quarterly 15:84–100.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S0009838800008739Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Discusses possible reasons for the play’s brevity and its potential appeal for a Roman audience.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Lefèvre, Eckard, Ekkehard Stärk, and Gregor Vogt-Spira. 1991. Plautus barbarus: Sechs Kapitel zur Originalität des Plautus. ScriptOralia 25. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                          Six essays, including one on Curculio, arguing that Plautus followed an Attic original either minimally or not at all but was influenced by popular mimic drama.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Marshall, C. W. 2006. The stagecraft and performance of Roman comedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Detailed study of the mechanics of staging and performing a Roman comedy with particular attention to three Plautus plays, including Curculio.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. The theatre of Plautus: Playing to the audience. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                                                              Analysis of Plautine theater with a focus on Plautus’s manipulation of the actor-audience relationship, including discussion of Curculio in Part 2 (pp. 126–139).

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                                                                                                                                                              • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1993. Curculio. Edited by John Wright. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                Second edition of a 1981 original designed for students.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2008. Curculio. Edited by Septimus Lanciotti. Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                                                                                                                                  New series. Text with double apparatus, the first reporting details of scene headings, line attributions, colometry; the second reporting variants and conjectures, both older and more recent. Especially valuable for scholars is the inclusion of full ancient testimoniums and quotations omitted by the Oxford Classical Text (OCT). List of editions and commentaries precedes the text. Highly useful for scholars.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Zwierlein, Otto. 1990. Zur Kritik und Exegese des Plautus. Vol. 1, Poenulus und Curculio. Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, Jahrgang Nr. 4. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.

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                                                                                                                                                                    After a substantial introduction (pp. 7–55) discussing the Menander papyrus, analysis of the plays arguing that Plautus was very faithful to the Greek models and that departures from the Greek originals are the result of interpolations in the century following the death of Plautus, perhaps by actors. Represents a completely opposing view to that of Eckard Lefèvre and other members of the Freiburg school, who argue for an extremely original Plautus whose texts owed more to the Italian folk tradition than to Greek plays.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Epidicus

                                                                                                                                                                    Epidicus is a short play with a complicated plot and a typical Plautine scheming slave (Goldberg 1978). Slater 2000 sees Plautus celebrating the power of self-creation through his clever slave Epidicus. G. E. Duckworth’s Epidicus remains the standard edition; the essays in Auhagen 2001 cover the standard range of topics.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Auhagen, Ulrike, ed. 2001. Studien zu Plautus Epidicus. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Fifteen essays in German, English, and Italian on issues including relationship with Greek comedy, soldiers, and language.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Goldberg, S. M. 1978. Plautus’ Epidicus and the case of the missing original. Transactions of the American Philological Association 108:81–91.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Analysis of the play arguing that there is no reason to posit a Greek original: the looseness of plot is a good vehicle for one of Plautus’s best slave characters.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1940. Epidicus. Edited by G. E. Duckworth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Major scholarly edition with text and apparatus criticus, preceded by introduction and followed by detailed commentary (which includes the work of A. L. Wheeler), especially on Plautine language, and extensive bibliography. Notes by A. L. Wheeler are incorporated within square brackets.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Slater, Niall W. 2000. Plautus in performance: The theatre of the mind. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Groundbreaking study, first published in 1985 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press), of theater and metatheater in Plautus, including discussion of Epidicus (pp. 19–36).

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                                                                                                                                                                            Menaechmi

                                                                                                                                                                            This fast-moving comedy of errors is the basis of Shakespeare’s play of that name (Segal 1969). This play is one of the best served, with a fabulous edition by A. S. Gratwick (Menaechmi) and a companion volume, Muecke 1987. Fantham 1968 considers the question of Plautine originality in one scene, while Stärk 1989 goes further. The important article Leach 1969 analyzes language and characterization and Braund 2005 the disturbing theme of divorce.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Braund, Susanna. 2005. Marriage, adultery, and divorce in Roman comic drama. In Satiric advice on women and marriage. Edited by Warren S. Smith, 39–70. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Study of the threat of divorce, a theme alien to the fabula palliata, in three Roman comedies (Plautus’s Amphitruo and Menaechmi and Terence’s Hecyra).

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Fantham, Elaine. 1968. Act IV of the Menaechmi: Plautus and his original. Classical Philology 63:175–183.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1086/365373Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Analysis of a scene that disrupts the symmetry and flow of the play: Plautus’s invention of this scene creates extra comic effects and is typical of his dramatic technique.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Leach, Eleanor W. 1969. Meam quom formam noscito: Language and characterization in the Menaechmi. Arethusa 2:30–45.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Leach starts by contrasting the play with Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors: while that is a romantic comedy, Plautus’s play is a satirical farce. Proceeding to analysis of the play, she argues that the themes of the play contribute to the brothers’ search for identity and selfhood. A valuable article.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Levin, Harry. 1964. Two comedies of errors. In Stratford papers on Shakespeare 1963. Edited by B. W. Jackson, 35–57. Toronto: Gage.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Wide-ranging essay on Plautus and Shakespeare and much else besides with valuable insights into English and Italian drama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Muecke, Frances. 1987. Plautus Menaechmi: A companion. Bristol, UK: Bristol Classical.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Slim volume aimed at classical studies students without Latin: introduction (which deploys Henri-Louis Bergson’s theories on laughter) and detailed commentary, keyed to E. F. Watling’s Penguin translation, followed by an appendix on the source of the doctor scenes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1993. Menaechmi. Edited by A. S. Gratwick. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Substantial introduction (pp. 1–63), text with apparatus criticus, and commentary aimed primarily at students but also useful for scholars. Uses sublinear dots to indicate metrical system and devotes part of introduction (pp. 40–63) plus several appendixes to metrical matters.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Segal, Erich. 1969. The Menaechmi: Roman comedy of errors. Yale Classical Studies 21:77–93.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          The play contains no intrigue or duplicity, just errors. Epidamnus is a “festive place” where the reality principle is suspended.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Stärk, E. 1989. Die Menaechmi des Plautus und kein griechisches Original. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Argues that the plot was entirely Plautus’s invention.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Mercator

                                                                                                                                                                                            Based on a play by Philemon called Emporos (The merchant), Mercator’s authenticity has sometimes been doubted (Beare 1977, pp. 37, 39, 57). P. J. Enk’s edition, Plauti Mercator, is a reprint of a traditional school text. For discussion of the play’s 2nd-century BCE context, see Leigh 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Beare, William. 1977. The Roman stage: A short history of Latin drama in the time of the republic. 3d ed. London: Methuen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Still the standard account in English of the practicalities of the Roman stage under the republic. Covers origins, dramatists, genres, organization of staging, spectators, and actors.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Leigh, Matthew. 2004. Comedy and the rise of Rome. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199266760.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Interpretation of Plautus and Terence informed by reconstruction of the collective psychology of wartime Rome in the 2nd century BCE, using Polybius, Livy, and other historians. Includes a chapter on Mercator.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1979. Plauti Mercator. Edited by P. J. Enk. New York: Arno.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Text, apparatus, and detailed commentary in English dealing with language, textual matters, staging, and interpretation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Miles Gloriosus

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Miles gloriosus is a long farcical play, based on a Greek play Alazon (The braggart) and dating from around 205 BCE, in which perceived structural flaws are attributed to contaminatio (combining two different Greek models) (Schaaf 1977); for defense of the play see Williams 1958 and on the sources see Zwierlein 1991. The Mason Hammond, Arthur M. Mack, and Walter Moskalew edition T. Macci Plauti Miles gloriosus is for students. Marshall 2006 examines staging. The miles (soldier) of the title, Pyrgopolynices, is the most memorable of Plautus’s braggart soldiers and is the model for the character Miles Gloriosus in the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Malamud 2001).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Malamud, Margaret. 2001. A funny thing happened on the way from Brooklyn: Roman comedy on Broadway and in film. Arion 8:33–51.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Delightful exploration of how Plautus’s plays, especially Casina, Miles gloriosus, and Pseudolus, informed the Stephen Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Marshall, C. W. 2006. The stagecraft and performance of Roman comedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Detailed study of the mechanics of staging and performing a Roman comedy with particular attention to three Plautus plays, including Miles gloriosus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Maurice, Lisa. 2007. Structure and stagecraft in Plautus’ Miles gloriosus. Mnemosyne 60:407–426.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        The structure of the play, with its two symmetrical tricks, emphasizes the nature of role-playing: a useful insight into metatheatricality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1963. T. Macci Plauti Miles gloriosus. Edited by Mason Hammond, Arthur M. Mack, and Walter Moskalew. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Substantial introduction (sixty-six pages) covering background, including meter and language; text with explanatory notes on same page. School edition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Schaaf, L. 1977. Der Miles gloriosus des Plautus und sein griechisches Original: Ein Beitrag zur Kontaminationsfrage. Munich: W. Fink.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            In-depth study of contaminatio (combining two different Greek models), including history of scholarship on the question of contaminatio in the Miles gloriosus; detailed analysis of the play, scene by scene, with analysis of the Greek original (Alazon, The braggart) and Plautus’s rendering of it in the Miles gloriosus. Wants to shift the question from How has Plautus practiced contaminatio? to Has Plautus practiced contaminatio?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Williams, Gordon. 1958. Evidence for Plautus’ workmanship in the Miles gloriosus. Hermes 86:79–105.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Study of the language and logic of important passages of this early play reveal Plautus’s craftsmanship in relationship to his models.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Zwierlein, Otto. 1991. Zur Kritik und Exegese des Plautus. Vol. 2, Miles gloriosus. Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, Jahrgang, Nr. 3. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Argues that Plautus wrote plays that were very faithful to their Greek models and that departures from the Greek originals are the result of interpolations in the century following the death of Plautus, perhaps by actors. Represents a completely opposing view to that of Eckard Lefèvre and other members of the Freiburg school, who argue for an extremely original Plautus whose texts owed more to the Italian folk tradition than to Greek plays.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mostellaria

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mostellaria is based on a play called Phasma (The ghost), probably by Philemon. Three old school editions (The Mostellaria of Plautus, Mostellaria, Mostellaria) are of limited use. The essay in Lefèvre, et al. 1991 discusses sources, and Fantham 1977 is concerned with reconstructing the Greek model. The most important discussion is still Leach 1969.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Fantham, Elaine. 1977. Philemon’s Thesauros as a dramatisation of peripatetic ethics. Hermes 105:406–421.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Uses the Latin play to read back to the Greek model.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Leach, Eleanor Winsor. 1969. De exemplo meo ipse aedificato: An organizing idea in the Mostellaria. Hermes 97:318–332.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fine article. Leach takes the house to constitute the central image of the play.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lefèvre, Eckard, Ekkehard Stärk, and Gregor Vogt-Spira. 1991. Plautus barbarus: Sechs Kapitel zur Originalität des Plautus. ScriptOralia 25. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Six essays, including one on Mostellaria, arguing that Plautus followed an Attic original either minimally or not at all but was influenced by popular mimic drama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1869. The Mostellaria of Plautus. Edited by W. Ramsay. London: Macmillan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lengthy introduction on the text, orthography, meters, and prosody; text and useful notes, with seventeen excursuses on Plautine language. Still useful.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1907. Mostellaria. 2d ed. Edited by E. A. Sonnenschein. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          School edition with brief introduction, text, notes with emphasis on meter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2002. Mostellaria. Edited by Frank R. Merrill. London: Duckworth.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            School edition with substantial introduction on the play and Plautine language; text; notes, mostly on grammar and syntax. First published by Macmillan in 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Persa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Persa is a farce dealing with the lowest strata of society (pimp, parasite, and slaves; see Chiarini 1979). Lefèvre, et al. 1991 looks at sources. McCarthy 2000 discusses the slave roles, Scafuro 1993 the legal aspect, Slater 2000 metatheater. The essays in Faller 2001 cover other aspects of the play.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Chiarini, Gioachino. 1979. La recita: Plauto, la farsa, la festa. Bologna, Italy: Patròn Editore.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              On the links with preliterary Latin theater, especially Oscan farce. Mostly a close analysis of Persa (virtually a commentary) as being the most farcical play.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Faller, Stefan, ed. 2001. Studien zu Plautus Persa. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ten essays, in German with one in English, on issues including characters, music, and influence on later works.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lefèvre, Eckard, Ekkehard Stärk, and Gregor Vogt-Spira. 1991. Plautus barbarus: Sechs Kapitel zur Originalität des Plautus. ScriptOralia 25. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Six essays, including one on Persa, arguing that Plautus followed an Attic original either minimally or not at all but was influenced by popular mimic drama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • McCarthy, Kathleen. 2000. Slaves, masters, and the art of authority in Plautine comedy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Study of Plautus’s clever slave character; includes a reading of Persa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Scafuro, A. C. 1993. Staging entrapment: On the boundaries of the law in Plautus’ Persa. In Intertextualität in der griechisch-römischen Komödie. Edited by Niall W. Slater and Bernhard Zimmermann, 55–77. Stuttgart: M&P.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sets out to interpret New Comedy scenarios often designated “intrigues” as cases of “entrapment” by providing a more specific legal context. Includes close focus on the entrapment scenario in Persa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Slater, Niall W. 2000. Plautus in performance: The theatre of the mind. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Groundbreaking study, first published in 1985 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press), of theater and metatheater in Plautus, including discussion of Persa (pp. 37–54).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Poenulus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Based on a play called Carchedonios (The Carthaginian), probably by Menander, this play has not garnered much admiration or appreciation until recently, when scholars (e.g., Henderson 1999, Starks 2000, Leigh 2004) started setting it in its sociohistorical context. Zwierlein 1990 sets the play against what we know of the Greek original, while Lowe 1990 finds influence from Roman tragedy in the cantica (lyric passages).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Henderson, John. 1999. Hanno’s Punic heirs: Der Poenulus-neid des Plautus. In Writing down Rome: Satire, comedy, and other offences in Latin poetry. By John Henderson, 3–37. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Republication of a 1994–1995 essay. The play’s apparently slapdash construction is designed to confuse the categories of Athenian drama, with doublings that make Hanno both demonized war conquest and emerging paterfamilias and his daughters both hardworking meretrices and dutiful, protected filiae.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Leigh, Matthew. 2004. Comedy and the rise of Rome. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199266760.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Interpretation of Plautus and Terence informed by reconstruction of the collective psychology of wartime Rome in the 2nd century BCE, using Polybius, Livy, and other historians. Includes a chapter on Poenulus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lowe, J. C. B. 1990. “Plautus’ choruses.” Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 133:274–297.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Plautus invented the choruses of Poenulus and Rudens, probably using contemporary Roman tragedy as his model.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1988. Der Poenulus des Plautus. Edited by G. Maurach. Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Winter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lengthy introduction including discussion of Poenulus as drama, text with apparatus criticus, and commentary. Horrible to look at: photoset from typescript.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Starks, John H., Jr. 2000. Nullus me est hodie poenus poenior: Balanced ethnic humor in Plautus’ Poenulus. Helios 27:163–186.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sets the play in context, showing that the anti-Punic rhetoric culminates in personal victory for Hanno the Carthaginian.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Zwierlein, Otto. 1990. Zur Kritik und Exegese des Plautus. Vol. 1, Poenulus und Curculio. Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, Jahrgang Nr. 4. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    After a substantial introduction (pp. 7–55) discussing the Menander papyrus, analysis of the plays arguing that Plautus was very faithful to the Greek models and that departures from the Greek originals are the result of interpolations in the century following the death of Plautus, perhaps by actors. Represents a completely opposing view to that of Eckard Lefèvre and other members of the Freiburg school, who argue for an extremely original Plautus whose texts owed more to the Italian folk tradition than to Greek plays.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pseudolus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of Plautus’s longest, latest, and most sophisticated plays, dating from 191 BCE, with possibly his most memorable slave character in the title role. Pseudolus is the main inspiration for the central role in the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Malamud 2001). The orchestrated deceptions and metatheater are analyzed in Wright 1975, Moore 1998, and Slater 2000. The old school edition of E. A. Sonnenschein (T. Macci Plauti Pseudolus) is serviceable, M. M. Willcock’s (Pseudolus) is useful for students. Zwierlein 1991 examines the sources; Lefèvre 1997 offers detailed and general analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lefèvre, Eckard. 1997. Plautus’ Pseudolus. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Overview of earlier scholarship and detailed analysis of the wagers between the characters, the structure, the worldview, and the reception of the play. In German.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Malamud, Margaret. 2001. A funny thing happened on the way from Brooklyn: Roman comedy on Broadway and in film. Arion 8:33–51.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Delightful exploration of how Plautus’s plays, especially Casina, Miles gloriosus, and Pseudolus, informed the Stephen Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. The theatre of Plautus: Playing to the audience. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Analysis of Plautine theater with a focus on Plautus’s manipulation of the actor-audience relationship, including discussion of Pseudolus in Part 2 (pp. 92–107).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1932. T. Macci Plauti Pseudolus. Edited by E. A. Sonnenschein. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Text, apparatus, and commentary covering all the main aspects. Reprinted in 1979 (Salem, NH: Ayer).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1987. Pseudolus. Edited by M. M. Willcock. Bristol, UK: Bristol Classical.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              School edition consisting of introduction, text, brief notes (mainly on syntax), and brief discussion of scansion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Slater, Niall W. 2000. Plautus in performance: The theatre of the mind. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Groundbreaking study, first published in 1985 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press), of theater and metatheater in Plautus, including substantial discussion of Pseudolus (chapter 7, pp. 118–146), a play very favorable to a metatheatrical reading.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Wright, John. 1975. The transformations of Pseudolus. Transactions of the American Philological Association 105:403–416.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Excellent study of the play arguing that the Greek slave Pseudolus is ultimately transformed into the playwright Plautus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Zwierlein, Otto. 1991. Zur Kritik und Exegese des Plautus. Vol. 3, Pseudolus. Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, Jahrgang Nr. 14. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that Plautus wrote plays that were very faithful to their Greek models and that departures from the Greek originals are the result of interpolations in the century following the death of Plautus, perhaps by actors. Represents a completely opposing view to that of Eckard Lefèvre and other members of the Freiburg school, who argue for an extremely original Plautus whose texts owed more to the Italian folk tradition than to Greek plays.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rudens

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This lengthy play is often considered Plautus’s chef d’oeuvre. Adapted from a play by Diphilus (possibly Pera [The bag] or Epitrope [The arbitration]), its unusual setting on the coast of Africa combines with standard themes, characters, and situations of New Comedy to make something special (Leach 1974, Konstan 1983). The standard editions are E. A. Sonnenschein’s (T. Macci Plauti Rudens, reprint of a Victorian edition) and Friedrich Marx (Plautus Rudens Text und Kommentar). Lefèvre 2006 is a wide-ranging study of the play and its reception; Lowe 1990 finds influence from Roman tragedy in the cantica (lyric passages).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Konstan, David. 1983. Roman comedy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Includes a chapter on Rudens relating the play to contemporary social issues; the deployment of legal and moral terminology in an unusual pastoral setting functions to incorporate the wider world into the frame of the city-state.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Leach, Eleanor Winsor. 1974. Plautus’ Rudens: Venus born from a shell. Texas Studies in Literature and Language 15:915–932.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The play combines disorder in the natural world and the human world: various manifestations of Venus are associated with Palaestra and Ampelisca. Myth and action converge to achieve the necessary ending.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lefèvre, Eckard. 2006. Plautus’ Rudens. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Overview of earlier scholarship and detailed analysis of the plot, characters, structure, worldview, and reception of the play. In German.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lowe, J. C. B. 1990. “Plautus’ choruses.” Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 133:274–297.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Plautus invented the choruses of Poenulus and Rudens, probably using contemporary Roman tragedy as his model.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1959. Plautus Rudens Text und Kommentar. Edited by Friedrich Marx. Amsterdam: Hakkert.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Text and extensive commentary paying attention to staging and language. There follow several excursuses, including those on cantica (lyric passages), Plautus’s relationship to Greek playwrights, and comparisons with other plays of Plautus. In German.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1979. T. Macci Plauti Rudens. Edited by E. A. Sonnenschein. Salem, NH: Ayer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Text, apparatus, and detailed commentary explicating Plautine idiom in depth. Originally published 1891 (Oxford: Clarendon).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stichus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Based on Menander’s play Adelphoe (The brothers) and dating from 200 BCE, this is an oddity in Plautus’s oeuvre for its lack of plot and complications; it is also very short. On sources, see Lefèvre, et al. 1991; on the play’s appeal, see Petrone 1977. H. Petersmann’s (T. Maccius Plautus Stichus) is a useful edition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lefèvre, Eckard, Ekkehard Stärk, and Gregor Vogt-Spira. 1991. Plautus barbarus: Sechs Kapitel zur Originalität des Plautus. ScriptOralia 25. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Six essays, including one on Stichus, arguing that Plautus followed an Attic original either minimally or not at all but was influenced by popular mimic drama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Petrone, Gianna. 1977. Morale e antimorale nelle commedie di Plauto: Ricerche sullo Stichus. Palermo, Italy: Palumbo Editore.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that there are two modes in Plautine drama, the Greek mode of mimesis, which is inherently moralistic, and the Roman mode of ludus, which inverts morality. Particular focus on the Stichus. Allows for a variegated audience with different concerns for and within the res publica.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1973. T. Maccius Plautus Stichus. Edited by H. Petersmann. Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Winter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Substantial introduction, text with apparatus, valuable commentary in German.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Trinummus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Based on Philemon’s Thesauros (The treasure), this play has no female characters and contains moralizing on vice and virtue (Stein 1970, Anderson 1979). The prologue delivered by Luxuria is an addition to the Greek model, according to Stein 1970. Questions of Plautus’s adaptation of his source material are explored in Hunter 1980 and Muecke 1985.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Anderson, W. S. 1979. Plautus’ Trinummus: The absurdity of officious morality. Traditio 35:333–345.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The moralists in the play are tedious, and the roguish character of Charmides dominates the ending in true Plautine fashion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hunter, R. L. 1980. Philemon, Plautus, and the Trinummus. Museum Helveticum 37:216–230.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Uses Plautus’s Trinummus to illustrate two different aspects of Plautine method, focusing on the allegorical prologue figures Luxuria and Inopia and the role of the slave Stasimus in the second half of the play. Hunter finds that Plautus prepares the way for his additions with more care than usually thought.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Muecke, Frances. 1985. Names and players: The sycophant scene of the Trinummus (Trin. 4.2). Transactions of the American Philological Association 115:167–186.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Focus on a specific scene allows interrogation of Plautus’s methods of adaptation from his Greek model.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Stein, J. P. 1970. Morality in Plautus’ Trinummus. ClassicalBulletin 47:7–13.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Trinummus is alone in making the issue of proper conduct the subject of an entire play.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Truculentus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This play is often regarded as exceptional because it lacks plot and abounds in obscenity: its central theme is the squandering of wealth on prostitutes (Moore 1998). Konstan 1983 argues that it is best regarded as satiric comedy; it was one of Plautus’s own favorites and may be one of his latest plays (see Walter Hofmann’s edition, Truculentus: Lateinisch und Deutsch, herausgegeben, übersetzt und kommentiert). We have a scholarly edition of the play by P. J. Enk (Plauti Truculentus, cum prolegomenis, notis criticis, commentario exegetico) and one aimed at the general reader by Hofmann (Truculentus: Lateinisch und Deutsch, herausgegeben, übersetzt und kommentiert). Lefèvre, et al. 1991 examines the possible sources for the play.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Konstan, David. 1983. Roman comedy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Includes a chapter on Truculentus relating the play to contemporary social issues.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lefèvre, Eckard, Ekkehard Stärk, and Gregor Vogt-Spira. 1991. Plautus barbarus: Sechs Kapitel zur Originalität des Plautus. ScriptOralia 25. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Six essays, including one on Truculentus, arguing that Plautus followed an Attic original either minimally or not at all but was influenced by popular mimic drama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. The theatre of Plautus: Playing to the audience. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Analysis of Plautine theater with a focus on Plautus’s manipulation of the actor-audience relationship, including discussion of Truculentus in Part 2 (pp. 140–157).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1953. Plauti Truculentus, cum prolegomenis, notis criticis, commentario exegetico. Edited by P. J. Enk. 2 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Sijthoff.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A full-scale edition consisting of text, apparatus, and detailed commentary in English dealing with language, textual matters, staging, and interpretation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2001. Truculentus: Lateinisch und Deutsch, herausgegeben, übersetzt und kommentiert. Edited by Walter Hofmann. Texte zur Forschung 78. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Contains an introduction, a Latin text with critical apparatus and a facing German translation, commentary on select textual and literary-historical problems, a bibliography, and a metrical overview.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vidularia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The fact that fewer than a hundred lines of this play survive, in a palimpsest, means that scholarly attention is mostly devoted to the text, as in the Italian editions by Roberto Calderan (Vidularia) and Salvador Monda (Vidularia et deperditarum fabularum fragmenta). For interpretation, see Dér 1987.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Dér, Katalin. 1987. Vidularia: Outlines of a reconstruction. Classical Quarterly 37:432–443.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Continues to serve as the basis for all discussion of the play.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2004a. Vidularia. Edited by Roberto Calderan. Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Republication of the 1982 edition; critical text with commentary. A conservative text, the result of diligent in-depth scholarship. A lengthy introduction gives the story of the text and a reconstruction of the plot. In Italian.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 2004b. Vidularia et deperditarum fabularum fragmenta. Edited by Salvador Monda. Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              New series. Text with double apparatus, the first reporting details of scene headings, line attributions, colometry; the second reporting variants and conjectures, both older and more recent. Especially valuable for scholars is the inclusion of full ancient testimoniums and quotations omitted by the Oxford Classical Text. List of editions and commentaries precedes the text.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Relationship to Greek Models

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This has been the central issue in Plautine studies for a long time, especially in German scholarship. Fraenkel 2007 is crucial for the positive reevaluation of Plautus’s merit, although there is still resistance (e.g., Zagagi 1980). Hunter 1987 sees a reflection of Middle Comedy in the Amphitruo. The discovery of fragments of Menander in the 20th century (Handley 1968, Bain 1979) has enabled better appreciation of Plautus’s originality. For overviews of scholarship on this issue, see Halporn 1993 and Danese 2002, with the extremes represented by Otto Zwierlein (that Plautus was heavily and anonymously, but not irrecoverably, interpolated in Antiquity; e.g., Zwierlein 1990–1992) and by Eckard Lefèvre’s Freiburg school (that Plautus minimally, if at all, made use of Greek models; e.g., Lefèvre, et al. 1991).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bain, David. 1979. Plautus vortit barbare: Plautus Bacchides 526–561 and Menander Dis exapatōn 102–112. In Creative imitation and Latin literature. Edited by David West and Tony Woodman, 17–34. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511659171Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Overview of the implications for Plautine studies of discoveries of fragments of Menander, with a case study.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Danese, Roberto. 2002. Modelli letterari e modelli culturali del teatro plautino. In Due seminari Plautini: La tradizione del testo; i modelli. Edited by Cesare Questa and Renato Raffaelli, 133–154. Ludus Philologiae 11. Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Valuable essay in a collection of ten from biennial Plautus seminars held at the University of Urbino. Evaluation of recent Plautine criticism, rejecting the extreme positions espoused by Otto Zwierlein and by Eckard Lefèvre and arguing instead that it is more sensible to consider plays as entities than to calculate the various percentages owed to Greek, Italian, and Plautine influences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Fraenkel, Eduard. 2007. Plautine elements in Plautus. Translated by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    English translation of the seminal book, first published in German in 1922, Plautinisches im Plautus (Berlin: Weidmann), and in Italian in 1960 (Florence: La Nuova Italia), with forty-five pages of addenda by Fraenkel updating his earlier views on the interrelationship between Plautus’s plays and their Greek originals through a study of Plautine ways of thinking and expression.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Halporn, James W. 1993. Roman comedy and Greek models. In Theater and society in the classical world. Edited by Ruth Scodel, 191–213. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Approaches Plautus’s plays through the lens of genre theory to argue that reading Plautus as a (failed) mechanical reproduction of Menander is a mistake. Includes a useful overview of 19th-century German approaches to Plautus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Handley, Eric W. 1968. Menander and Plautus: A study in comparison. London: H. K. Lewis.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An important moment in Plautine studies: a close parallel study of forty-four lines of Menander’s Dis exapatōn with Plautus’s adaptation at Bacchides 494–562. Handley demonstrates the essentially Plautine features and confirms some of Eduard Fraenkel’s views (Fraenkel 2007).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hunter, R. 1987. Middle Comedy and the Amphitruo of Plautus. Dioniso 57:281–298.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The play, though probably based on a New Comedy model, provides crucial evidence for the mythological burlesque that was prominent in Middle Comedy, provided proper caution is exercised.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lefèvre, Eckard, Ekkehard Stärk, and Gregor Vogt-Spira. 1991. Plautus barbarus: Sechs Kapitel zur Originalität des Plautus. ScriptOralia 25. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Six essays, each author contributing two, on Asinaria, Curculio, Mostellaria, Persa, Stichus, and Truculentus, arguing that in these plays Plautus followed an Attic original either minimally or not at all but was influenced by popular mimic drama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Zagagi, Netta. 1980. Tradition and originality in Plautus: Studies of the amatory motifs in Plautine comedy. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A partial study of amatory motifs in Plautine comedy viewing Plautus as aggrandizing his characters via hyperbolic mythological comparisons also found in Greek New Comedy; examines the cantica (lyric passages) in Cistellaria and Trinummus and discusses the juridicization of amatory motifs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Zwierlein, Otto. 1990–1992. Zur Kritik und Exegese des Plautus. Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse. 4 vols. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Volume 1, Poenulus und Curculio (1990), has an introduction discussing the Menander papyrus; Volume 2, Miles gloriosus (1991); Volume 3, Pseudolus (1991); Volume 4, Bacchides (1992). Argues that Plautus’s plays were faithful to their Greek models and that departures are the result of interpolations in the century following his death. Represents an opposing view to that of Eckard Lefèvre and the Freiburg school.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Native Italian Drama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The farcical element in Plautus is explored in many of the general books on Plautus and in particular in Chiarini 1979 and Benz, et al. 1995.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Benz, Lore, Ekkehard Stärk, and Gregor Vogt-Spira, eds. 1995. Plautus und die Tradition des Stegreifspiels. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Articles exploring the influence of farce on Plautus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Chiarini, Gioachino. 1979. La recita: Plauto, la farsa, la festa. Bologna, Italy: Patròn Editore.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the links with preliterary Latin theater, especially Oscan farce. Mostly a close analysis of Persa (virtually a commentary) as being the most farcical play.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Theatricality, Improvisation, and Metatheater

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Moore 1998, Slater 2000, and Marshall 2006 have taken Plautine scholarship in an exciting new direction by considering the plays as dynamic interactions between actors and audiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Marshall, C. W. 2006. The stagecraft and performance of Roman comedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Excellent study of the mechanics of staging and performing a Roman comedy with a controversial final chapter on improvisation. Mainly concerned with Plautus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. The theatre of Plautus: Playing to the audience. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Analysis of Plautine theater with a focus on Plautus’s manipulation of the actor-audience relationship. Part 1 provides a sound overview of Plautine theatricality, and Part 2 considers individual plays (Pseudolus, Amphitruo, Curculio, Truculentus, Casina, Captivi) with shorter discussions of other plays throughout.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Slater, Niall W. 2000. Plautus in performance: The theatre of the mind. Rev. ed. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Groundbreaking study, first published in 1985 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press), of theater and metatheater in Plautus, concentrating on six plays—Epidicus, Persa, Asinaria, Casina, Bacchides, and Pseudolus—with appendixes that touch on aspects of other plays, including improvisation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Narrative Structures

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The recurring features in the plots of New Comedy have engendered various theories (e.g., Frye 1957, Petrone 1983, Bettini 1991, Lowe 2000).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bettini, Maurizio. 1991. Verso un’antropologia dell’intreccio. In Verso un’antropologia dell’intreccio, e altri studi su Plauto. By Maurizio Bettini, 11–76. Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pioneering structuralist analysis of the narrative structures of all twenty complete plays, drawing on Greimas’s actantial model involving six narrative roles (subject/object, helper/opponent, sender/receiver) subject to transformational moves. In Italian. Originally published in Materiali e discussioni per l’analisi dei testi classici 7 (1982): 39–101. Reviewed by N. J. Lowe in Journal of Roman Studies 84 (1994): 221–222.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Frye, Northrop. 1957. Anatomy of criticism: Four essays. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frye’s theory of the narrative structure of comedy, as explicated in “The Mythos of Spring” (pp. 163–171), is still worth reading as a snapshot look into the plot structures of New Comedy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Lowe, N. J. 2000. The classical plot and the invention of Western narrative. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Detailed theorized study of the transactional system of plotting deployed in the genre of New Comedy (pp. 188–221) with many illuminating and intriguing analyses of particular plays en route.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Petrone, Gianna. 1983. Teatro antico e inganno: Finzioni Plautine. Palermo, Italy: G. B. Palumbo.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A study of deceit as a structuring principle in classical drama: in Plautine drama the audience is led from the exterior frame of the Greek narrative (inspired by Greek tragedy) into the festive ludus controlled by the trickster figure.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Characters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Study of the various character types in Plautus, with attention to how he makes them authentically Roman, is a rich field for scholars, and many of the general books on Plautus offer outlines. One of the best studies in this area is McCarthy 2000 on slaves; Corbett 1986 on the witty hanger-on known as the scurra is also stimulating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Corbett, Philip B. 1986. The Scurra. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Brief but fascinating investigation of the Roman character known as the scurra, apparently a type of witty entertainer sometimes associated with mime. Includes two chapters on the scurra in Plautus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lowe, J. C. B. 1985. Cooks in Plautus. Classical Antiquity 4:72–102.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sets out to distinguish the Greek and Roman elements in the scenes involving cooks. These scenes do not alter the basic structure of the plays, but Plautus expands the role of cooks and envisages them as slaves and hence significantly different from the mageiroi of Greek New Comedy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Maurice, Lisa. 2003. Amici et sodales: An examination of a double motif in Plautus. Mnemosyne 56.2: 164–193.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discussion of Plautus’s deployment of the helpful friend character with emphasis on the five plays in which this character is found twofold.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • McCarthy, Kathleen. 2000. Slaves, masters, and the art of authority in Plautine comedy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Study of Plautus’s clever slave character, finding in the plays a dialogic interaction between the naturalistic and the farcical modes of comedy and arguing that the slave’s rebellion and the master’s reassertion of control mattered in different ways to different audience members; introduction and readings of Menaechmi, Casina, Persa, and Captivi.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Raccanelli, Renato. 1998. L’amicitia nelle commedie di Plauto: Un indagine antropologica. Bari, Italy: Edipuglia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An anthropological/narratological study of friendship and the problem of gift exchange between friends in Plautus; builds on Bettini 1991 (cited under Narrative Structures). Proposes a model of Roman friendship and then applies this model to the plays, with particular attention to Bacchides, Mercator, Casina, Trinummus, Asinaria, Miles gloriosus, and Captivi.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Rei, Annalisa. 1998. Villains, wives, and slaves in the comedies of Plautus. In Women and slaves in Greco-Roman culture: Differential equations. Edited by Sandra R. Joshel and Sheila Murnaghan, 92–108. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Study of the negative portrayals of domineering wives in Plautus’s plays, with particular focus on Casina, concluding that comedy serves to reinforce social norms.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Social Commentary

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Some scholars have attempted to relate Plautus to the political, social, and economic context of the period of the Second Punic War (e.g., Konstan 1983 on individual plays, Parker 1989, Gruen 1990, Leigh 2004, Braund 2005). Pansiéri 1997 reminds us of Plautus’s Umbrian origin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Braund, Susanna. 2005. Marriage, adultery, and divorce in Roman comic drama. In Satiric advice on women and marriage. Edited by Warren S. Smith, 39–70. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Study of the threat of divorce, a theme alien to the fabula palliata, in three Roman comedies (Plautus’s Amphitruo and Menaechmi and Terence’s Hecyra).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gruen, Erich S. 1990. Plautus and the public stage. In Studies in Greek culture and Roman policy. Edited by Erich S. Gruen, 124–157. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Plautus, though not a political commentator or moral reformer, was sensitive to contemporary issues and illuminates the tensions created by Roman interactions with the Greek world. Highlights and interprets military, political, juridical, and cultural issues in the plays.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Konstan, David. 1983. Roman comedy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Eight studies of individual plays, including Plautus’s Aulularia, Asinaria, Captivi, Rudens, Cistellaria, and Truculentus, relating them to contemporary social issues.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Leigh, Matthew. 2004. Comedy and the rise of Rome. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199266760.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interpretation of Plautus and Terence informed by reconstruction of the collective psychology of wartime Rome in the 2nd century BCE, using Polybius, Livy, and other historians. Introduction plus four chapters on Poenulus, Captivi, Mercator, and Adelphoe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pansiéri, Claude. 1997. Plaute et Rome; ou, Les ambiguitiés d’un marginal. Collection Latomus 236. Brussels: Latomus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Massive eight-hundred-page book built around the single point that Plautus is profitably regarded as Umbrian as well as Roman, hence his hostility to the nobility and empathy with the oppressed. Thesis ignores the conventions of New Comedy. Reviewed by Timothy Moore in Classical Review 52 (2002): 175.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Parker, H. N. 1989. Crucially funny or Tranio on the couch: The servus Callidus and jokes about torture. Transactions of the American Philological Association 119:233–246.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Explores the phenomenon of violence offered to slaves in the comedies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Language and Style

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Plautus is known especially for his exuberant and colorful language drawn from a wide range of registers. Many of the general overviews of Plautus discuss this, but for in-depth analysis nothing rivals Wright 1974.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Fontaine, Michael. 2009. Funny words in Plautine comedy. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In this provocative study, Fontaine seeks puns and other forms of wordplay in Roman comedy, expecting a sophisticated appreciation of Greek and Latin etymologies from the Roman audience.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Wright, John. 1974. Dancing in chains: The stylistic unity of the comoedia palliata. Papers and Monographs of the American Academy in Rome 25. Rome: American Academy in Rome.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A full and sophisticated study of the language of the fabula palliate with special attention to diction and rhythm.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cantica and Meter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Plautus uses a wide range of meters, including cantica (operatic-type arias and duets). Plautine meter is very complex. Lindsay 1922, Questa 2007, and Fortson 2008 offer detailed analysis, while Gratwick 1993 lays out the editor’s metrical interpretation and notation. Moore 1998 and Moore 1999 recuperate what can be understood of the role of music in Roman comedy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Fortson, Benjamin W. 2008. Language and rhythm in Plautus: Synchronic and diachronic studies. Sozomena/Studies in the Recovery of Ancient Texts 3. Berlin: de Gruyter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A specialized monograph on Plautine metrics arguing that apparent metrical anomalies are not simply poetic license but reflect the actual speech of Plautus’s day.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lindsay, W. M. 1922. Early Latin verse. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Detailed study of the meter of Plautus with a long chapter on hiatus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Moore, Timothy J. 1998. Music and structure in Roman comedy. American Journal of Philology 119:245–273.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/ajp.1998.0017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Plautus and Terence used musical accompaniment to give form and shape to their plays.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Moore, Timothy J. 1999. Facing the music: Character and musical accompaniment in Roman comedy. Syllecta Classica 10:130–153.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Argues for the close relationship between the musical accompaniment and characterization and content. The accepted difference between diverbium (iambic senarii) and canticum (all other meters) is emphasized by the musical accompaniment for the latter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Plautus, Titus Maccius. 1993. Menaechmi. Edited by A. S. Gratwick. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Substantial introduction (pp. 1–63), text with apparatus criticus, and commentary aimed primarily at students but also useful for scholars. Uses sublinear dots to indicate metrical system and devotes part of introduction (pp. 40–63) plus several appendixes to metrical matters.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Questa, Cesare. 2007. La metrica di Plauto e di Terenzio. Urbino, Italy: QuattroVenti.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Detailed study of Plautine and Terentian meter, with concise introduction and sections on prosody and meter.

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