Classics Menander of Athens
by
David Konstan
  • LAST REVIEWED: 20 December 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0035

Introduction

Menander, born in 342/1 BCE, was an Athenian citizen, the son of Diopeithes and Hegestrate (Suda s.v. Menander). Diogenes Laertius (5.36) reports that he was a pupil of Theophrastus, Aristotle’s successor as head of the Lyceum. He died around 290 BCE, perhaps having drowned while swimming (scholia to Ovid Ibis 591–2). He wrote 105 (other sources give 108) plays (Aulus Gellius 17.4.5), and won first prize eight times—not the most successful of the comic playwrights in his time. After his death, however, he achieved great esteem, being ranked by several authorities as equal to, or just behind, Homer. Menander’s plays ceased to be copied in the Byzantine period, and his works were for a long time known only through brief citations by later writers; an ancient collection, mostly of single verses, called Gnomai monostichoi or Sententiae (upwards of 850 items), which includes lines by other poets such as Euripides; and the imitations by Plautus and Terence, the former of whom adapted quite freely at least three of Menander’s comedies (a small fragment of the source for one of these has been discovered), and the latter, somewhat more faithfully, four. In 1898, about 80 lines of Georgos (“Farmer”) came to light on papyrus, and in 1907 substantial portions of Epitrepontes, Perikeiromene, and Samia were published, along with lesser bits of other plays. Then in 1959, a papyrus containing virtually the complete text of Duskolos was published, and this was followed in the next two decades by large bits of Misoumenos (“Hated man”) and Sikuonios (“Man from Sicyon”), along with new fragments of Aspis, Samia, and other plays. Most recently, in 2004, a palimpsest containing a bit of the Titthe (“Nurse”) was discovered in the Vatican. These finds have greatly enhanced the picture we had of Menander and rendered much earlier work obsolete.

General Overviews

In order to obtain a broad picture of Menander, both overviews of Old and New Comedy and more specialized surveys of Menander should be consulted.

Old and New Comedy

The most accessible introduction to the ancient comic tradition as a whole is Sandbach 1977, which surveys all of Classical comedy. Hunter 1985 is more detailed and provides more technical information, for example on prologues, contrasting Greek and Roman practices. Zimmermann 2006 economically covers all relevant topics. This is the age of the “companion,” and fully three have recently been published on Greek comedy, while a fourth (Petrides and Papaioannou 2010), with fewer chapters but more focused on Menander, serves a similar function. Dobrov 2010 has two lengthy chapters on Middle and New Comedy, plus a wealth of other material. Fontaine and Scafuro 2014 is ample and solid, covering the entire field, and is excellent on transmission and reception; it is nicely complemented by Revermann 2014. Despite their handbook character, all contain innovative and original work by major scholars and are the place to begin the study of Menander and comedy.

  • Dobrov, Gregory W. 2010. Brill’s companion to the study of Greek comedy. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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    This volume is particularly good on social context, including material evidence; on the whole, rather tilted to Old Comedy, but with detailed studies of Middle and New Comedy by Geoffrey Arnott and Stanley Ireland.

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    • Fontaine, Michael, and Adele C. Scafuro, eds. 2014. The Oxford handbook of Greek and Roman comedy. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

      DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199743544.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A hefty volume, touching on various aspects of Greek and Roman comedy, including social, political, and religious context, crossing of genres, and later influence; Adele Scafuro and Alain Blanchard offer fine surveys of Menander.

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      • Handley, Eric W. 1985. Comedy. In The Cambridge history of Classical literature, vol. 1, Greek literature. Edited by Patricia E. Easterling and Bernard Knox. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

        DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521210423Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Available separately in paperback under the title Greek Drama (1989), pp. 103–172. Contains a good survey of Greek comedy in general by one of the leading scholars of Menander.

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        • Hunter, Richard L. 1985. The New Comedy of Greece and Rome. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511627361Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Learned, good on various technical matters.

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          • Petrides, Antonis K., and Sophia Papaioannou, eds. 2010. New perspectives on postclassical comedy. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars.

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            Despite the title, mainly on Menander. An introductory chapter by Horst-Dieter Blume tracks the discovery of Menandrean texts, while others deal with cultural studies, gender, performance, tragic dimensions of Menander, and later comedy.

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            • Revermann, Martin, ed. 2014. The Cambridge companion to Greek comedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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              Chapters on dramatic technique, character, utopianism, comic laughter, heroism, and a good section on reception make this collection a fine complement to the Oxford companion.

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              • Sandbach, F. H. 1977. The comic theatre of Greece and Rome. London: Chatto and Windus.

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                Clear, concise, and elegant introduction.

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                • Zimmermann, Bernhard. 2006. Die griechische Komödie. Frankfurt: Verlag Antike.

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                  A revised, expanded version of the 1998 edition. Deals well with the influence of Aristotle on Menander and Menander’s interest in ethics; offers a neat contrast with the comic style of Aristophanes (the latter receives the lion’s share of attention in the book).

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                  Menander

                  For Menander himself, Walton and Arnott 1996 offers a good overview, although one can still profitably consult Webster 1974 for Menander’s appropriation of tragic motifs and other matters of style, as well as reconstructions (often speculative) of the plots of lost comedies. The latest reports on the Menandrean papyri may be found in Bastianini and Casanova 2004. Introductions to commentaries (see Menander 1973) provide handy brief surveys.

                  • Bastianini, Guido, and Angelo Casanova. 2004. Menandro: cent’anni di papiri. Acts of the Convegno internazionale di studi, Firenze, 12–13 giugno 2003. Florence: Istituto papirologico G. Vitelli.

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                    General update on the state of papyri of Menander; includes W. G. Arnott’s “New Menander from the 1990’s,” pp. 35–53.

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                    • Ireland, Stanley. 1994. Personal relationships and other features of Menander. Electronic Antiquity 2.4.

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                      A good, brief discussion of Menander’s skill as a playwright, and an early example of web-based publication.

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                      • Menander. 1973. Menander: A commentary. Edited by Arnold Wycombe Gomme and F. H. Sandbach. London: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                        The fundamental commentary on all texts known at date of publication.

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                        • Mette, Hans Joachim. 1970. Menandros. In Paulys Real-Encyklopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. New ed. By Georg Wissowa and Wilhelm Kroll, Suppl., 12: 854–862. Stuttgart: Metzler and Druckenmüller,

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                          Basic encyclopedic survey.

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                          • Walton, Michael, and Peter D. Arnott. 1996. Menander and the making of comedy. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

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                            Clear, accessible overview by two scholars with extensive experience in staging ancient drama; sound emphasis on performance.

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                            • Webster, Thomas Bertram Lonsdale. 1974. An introduction to Menander. Manchester, UK: Manchester Univ. Press.

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                              Especially good on Menander and art.

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                              Bibliographies

                              Mette 1968, Mette 1971–1972, and Mette 1985 provide annotated bibliographies for the most intense period of Menandrean studies, following the publication of the Dyskolos and other new fragments. Katsouris 1995 is exhaustive but lacks comments; it is drawn principally from the materials in L’Année Philologique, which provides resumés of books and some articles. Arnott 1975 offers a good, brief, annotated survey of scholarship on New Comedy at the time; Lowe 2007 is more of a brief study of Menander with bibliographical notes and afterword.

                              • L’Année philologique. 1924–2005.

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                                The bibliography of record for the field of classical studies. In print 1924–2005 and online 1949–2006, with updates in progress.

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                                • Arnott, William Geoffrey. 1975. Menander, Plautus, Terence. Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics 9. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                  An excellent survey of scholarship to date, by one of the leading authorities on Menander; addressed to a general public and not just to specialists.

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                                  • Katsouris, Andreas G. 1995. Menander bibliography. Thessaloniki, Greece: Univ. Studio Press.

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                                    Thorough bibliography, but lacking critical comments, up to around 1994, with more than 2,500 items. Arranged by editions, individual plays, and themes (e.g., language, philosophy, soldier).

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                                    • Lowe, Nick J. 2007. Comedy. Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics 37. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                      Update of Arnott 1975 (Menander discussed on pp. 63–80), with brief but stimulating introduction on Menander’s dramatic technique and the influences on it, along with political context; bibliographical references are collected in notes (without discussion of individual contributions) and in a useful “Bibliographical Note” at the end.

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                                      • Mette, Hans Joachim. 1968. Zweiter Nachtrag zu der heutige Menander (insbes. 1955–1965). Lustrum 10:5–211; 11:139–143; 13:535–568.

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                                        A thorough survey with critical comments of works on Menander published in these years.

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                                        • Mette, Hans Joachim. 1971–1972. Menander 1966–1973. Lustrum 16:5–80.

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                                          Update of Mette 1968.

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                                          • Mette, Hans Joachim. 1985. Menander bis 1984. Lustrum 27:27–31.

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                                            Further update of Mette 1971–1972.

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                                            Texts and Commentaries: General

                                            The standard text and line numeration is from Sandbach (Menander 1990), which originally appeared in 1972 and has been updated to include new fragments. Gomme and Sandbach (Menander 1973), the best commentary on the whole of Menander (it was begun by Gomme and thoroughly revised and augmented by Sandbach), is keyed to this text. Arnott’s three volumes in the Loeb Classical Library (Menander 1979–2000), with facing translation, add further fragments, make some improvements to the text, and provide very useful summaries of what can be conjectured about the lost portions of the plays. Austin (Menander 2013) offers text and translation of some of the less-well-known fragments. Kassel and Austin (Menander 1998) covers the fragments of all the comic playwrights; the exceptionally rich apparatus (in Latin) is practically a commentary itself (but for the Menander volumes, see the following). Ireland (Menander 1992) is geared to an English translation. Jäkel (Menander 1964), Pernigotti (Menander 2008), and Liapis (Menander 2002) cover the texts of the “sentences” or verses, usually one-liners, attributed to Menander, though they are only marginally illuminating about his plays.

                                            • Menander. 1964. Menandri sententiae: Comparatio Menandri et Philistionis. Edited by Siegfried Jäkel. Leipzig: Teubner.

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                                              Standard text of the collection of one-liners.

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                                              • Menander. 1973. Menander: A commentary. Edited by Arnold Wycombe Gomme and F. H. Sandbach. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                The fundamental commentary on all texts known at date of publication.

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                                                • Menander. 1979–2000. Menander. Edited by W. Geoffrey Arnott. Loeb Classical Library. 3 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                  Text and translation, useful notes, and conjectures about lost portions; new fragments in addition to those in Gomme and Sandbach (Menander 1973), and in some plays, lines have been renumbered and are now standard.

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                                                  • Menander. 1990. Menandri reliquiae selectae. Edited by F. H. Sandbach. Rev. ed. Oxford Classical Texts. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                    The most accessible Greek text, with brief critical apparatus.

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                                                    • Menander. 1992. Dyskolos, Samia and other plays. Edited by Stanley Ireland. Bristol, UK: Bristol Classical Press.

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                                                      Commentary geared to the English translation by Miller (Menander 1987a, cited under Translations).”

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                                                      • Menander. 1998. Poetae comici graeci, vol. 6.2, Testimonia et fragmenta apud scriptores servata. Edited by Rudolph Kassel and Colin Austin. Berlin: de Gruyter.

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                                                        Critical edition, with very rich apparatus, of all of Greek comedy. Volume 6 is devoted to Menander; volume 6.1, which has not appeared, is to contain those texts preserved on papyrus; volume 6.2 contains fragments preserved in the literary tradition.

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                                                        • Menander. 2002. Menandrou Gnomai monostichoi: Eisagôgê, metaphrasê, scholia. Edited by Vayos Liapis. Athens, Greece: Stigme.

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                                                          The only detailed commentary on the one-liners; in modern Greek.

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                                                          • Menander. 2008. Menandri Sententiae. Edited by Carlo Pernigotti. Florence: Olschki.

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                                                            New critical edition.

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                                                            • Menander. 2013. Menander: Eleven plays. Translated by Colin Austin. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Philological Society.

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                                                              Up-to-date editions of several of the less-well-preserved comedies.

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                                                              Texts and Commentaries: Individual Plays

                                                              There have been many editions of individual comedies. Handley (Menander 1965) is the best English commentary on Dyskolos (along with Gomme and Sandbach [Menander 1973, cited under Texts and Commentaries: General]). Ireland (Menander 1995) provides text, facing English translation, and commentary for Dyskolos; Bain (Menander 1983) on Samia is in the same format, as is Ireland (Menander 2010a). Menander’s Aspis is now well served: see Beroutsos 2005 and Ingrosso (Menander 2010b). Sisti (Menander 1985) is good on Misoumenos (“The hated man”) (with Italian translation). Pernerstorfer (Menander 2009b) provides a detailed reconstruction of “The Flatterer.” For Epitrepontes, Furley (Menander 2009a) is excellent. Blanchard (Menander 2011) offers a good introduction to the Sicyonians.

                                                              Lexica

                                                              Pompella 1996 is a lexicon, providing Latin definitions of Greek terms, with different forms listed under each lemma. Katsouris 2004 provides an exhaustive index of words in Menander, with all manuscript variants and very occasional definitions pertaining to specific forms.

                                                              Translations

                                                              Miller (Menander 1987a) provides a clear prose version of Sandbach’s text, though it is not a slavish rendering of the Greek. Balme (Menander 2001a) is livelier and in verse, and fills in more gaps in the texts. Slavitt and Bovie (Menander 1998) too is in verse, and jollier if not always literally faithful, rather too freely supplementing missing parts. Blanchard (Menander 2000) is a good French version; Ramírez Trejo (Menander 1987b) gives text and facing Spanish translation. Rusten (Menander 2011) has excellent versions of the major fragments of all of Greek comedy. Ferrari (Menander 2001b) provides a lively Italian version that includes fragments of other New Comic poets.

                                                              • Menander. 1987a. Plays and fragments. Translated by Norma Miller. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

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                                                                In prose, but the rendering of the Greek is sometimes a bit free.

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                                                                • Menander. 1987b. Menandro: Comedias. Translated by Arturo Ramírez Trejo. México: UNAM, Centro de Estudios Clásicos.

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                                                                  With text, Spanish translation, and notes.

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                                                                  • Menander. 1998. Menander. Edited by David R. Slavitt and Smith Palmer Bovie, translated by Sheila D’Atri, Smith Palmer Bovie, and Richard Elman. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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                                                                    Lively, rather free, takes liberties with the Greek for the sake of readability.

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                                                                    • Menander. 2000. Ménandre: Théâtre. Translated by Alain Blanchard. Paris: Livre de Poche.

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                                                                      Authoritative, inexpensive French version. Second edition printed in 2007.

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                                                                      • Menander. 2001a. The plays and fragments. Translated by Maurice G. Balme. Introduction by Peter Brown. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                        Good verse version.

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                                                                        • Menander. 2001b. Menandro e la commedia nuova. Edited and translated by Franco Ferrari. Turin, Italy: Einaudi.

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                                                                          Contains, in addition to Menander, major fragments of New Comedy.

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                                                                          • Menander. 2011. The birth of comedy: Texts, documents, and art from Athenian comic competitions, 486–280. Edited by Jeffrey S. Rusten. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                            Translations by several hands (in addition to Rusten, Jeffrey Henderson, David Konstan, Ralph Rosen, and Niall Slater) of the major fragments of Greek comedy, including Menander. Based on Kassel and Austin, but with much new material and an excellent overview of all aspects of comedy by Rusten.

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                                                                            • Menander, and Aristophanes. 1994. New Comedy. Translated by J. Michael Walton and Kenneth McLeish. London: Methuen.

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                                                                              The two last surviving plays of Aristophanes with two (Dyskolos and Samia) by Menander.

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                                                                              General Critical Studies

                                                                              The bibliography on Menander is extensive, much of it devoted to interpretation of short passages, necessary for the establishment of texts recovered from papyrus. Several collections of articles may be recommended.

                                                                              Middle and New Comedy

                                                                              Lowe 2007 lists items in the notes to individual plays. Segal 2001 contains some good chapters on Menander. Nesselrath 1990 is a scholarly investigation of the transition from Old Comedy to the New Comedy of Menander. (For a briefer discussion, in English, see Nesselrath 1995.)

                                                                              • Lowe, Nick J. 2007. Comedy. Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics 37. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                Lively survey of major issues, with good section on Menander. Notes include bibliographical references to works on individual plays.

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                                                                                • Nesselrath, Heinz-Günther. 1990. Die attische mittlere Komödie: Ihre Stellung in der antiken Literaturkritik und Literaturgeschichte. Berlin: de Gruyter.

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                                                                                  The basic introduction to so-called Middle Comedy, a rather shadowy genre identified by ancient critics as the transition from Old to New Comedy. Provides essential background to Menander’s specific style.

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                                                                                  • Nesselrath, Heinz-Günther. 1995. The polis of Athens in Middle Comedy. In Beyond Aristophanes: Transition and diversity in Greek comedy. Edited by Gregory W. Dobrov, 271–288. Atlanta: Scholars Press.

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                                                                                    Brief recapitulation, in English, of some of the ideas in the foregoing.

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                                                                                    • Segal, Eric, ed. 2001. Oxford readings in Menander, Plautus, and Terence. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                      A good collection of previously published scholarly articles, edited to make them more accessible to a general audience.

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                                                                                      Menander

                                                                                      There are many interpretations of individual plays published in scholarly journals, which can readily be found in the bibliography by Katsouris 1995. There is no full-scale critical study in English devoted exclusively to Menander (a desideratum), although Goldberg 1980 and Blanchard 2007 offer good introductions. Cusset 2003 takes up the particular theme of Menander’s relation to tragedy. Turner 1970, Handley and Hurst 1990, and Consonni 1996 include important scholarly papers.

                                                                                      • Blanchard, Alain. 2007. La comédie de Ménandre: Politique, éthique, esthétique. Paris: Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne.

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                                                                                        A good recent survey: readable and clear.

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                                                                                        • Consonni, Claudio, ed. 1996. Menandro fra tradizione e innovazione. Atti Del Convegno Nazionale Di Studi, Monza, 6–7 Maggio 1995. Milan: LED.

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                                                                                          The proceedings of a conference, with several important contributions.

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                                                                                          • Cusset, Christophe. 2003. Ménandre ou la comédie tragique. Paris: CNRS.

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                                                                                            Good on the influence of Attic tragedy on Menander, a topic much in the air.

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                                                                                            • Goldberg, Sander M. 1980. The making of Menander’s comedy. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                              Good chapters particularly on plot construction.

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                                                                                              • Handley, Eric W., and André Hurst, eds. 1990. Relire Menandre. Recherches et Rencontres 2. Geneva, Switzerland: Librairie Droz.

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                                                                                                A collection of essays, some fairly technical. See especially Brown on the Bodmer codex, and Hurst on the influence of tragedy.

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                                                                                                • Katsouris, Andreas G. 1995. Menander bibliography. Thessaloniki, Greece: Univ. Studio Press.

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                                                                                                  Thorough bibliography, but lacking critical comments, up to around 1994, with more than 2,500 items. Arranged by editions, individual plays, and themes (e.g., language, philosophy, soldier).

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                                                                                                  • Turner, Eric Gardner. 1970. Ménandre: Sept exposés suivis de discussions. Geneva, Switzerland: Vandœuvres/Fondation Hardt.

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                                                                                                    Collection of papers on Menander, in various languages (some in English), deriving from a conference at the Fondation Hardt in Geneva. Includes very good paper by Sandbach on Menander’s style.

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                                                                                                    Studies of Selected Individual Plays

                                                                                                    In the interests of space, this section is brutally selective, confined almost exclusively to works in English, and among these, those that deal with larger aspects of literary and social values, as opposed to analyses—equally valuable—of individual lines and textual problems. Further articles may be found under General Critical Studies and sections on special topics.

                                                                                                    Aspis

                                                                                                    Relatively little has been written recently on this play (apart from notes on textual problems), but there is now an edition in English that should stimulate further studies. Lloyd-Jones 1971 and Lombard 1971 are recommended.

                                                                                                    • Lloyd-Jones, Hugh. 1971. Menander’s Aspis. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 12:175–195.

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                                                                                                      One of the very few studies, apart from those included in general surveys, devoted specifically to this play.

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                                                                                                      • Lombard, Daniel Benjamin. 1971. New values in traditional forms: A study in Menander’s Aspis. Acta Classica 14:123–145.

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                                                                                                        Like the above, an early study of this play, with greater emphasis on the social dimension.

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                                                                                                        Dyskolos

                                                                                                        This is the only play of Menander’s to have been recovered more or less complete. It has given rise to a variety of treatments, from the construction of the plot (Brown 1992), to social roles (Brown 1991, Khan 1993, Rosivach 2001, Cox 2002), political context (Lape 2001, Wiles 1984), and staging (Lowe 1987, Marshall 2002).

                                                                                                        Epitrepontes

                                                                                                        This play deals with the separation of a married couple because the wife had been raped prior to wedlock; apart from general treatments of social themes and the status of women (see Konstan 1995, Rosivach 1998, Traill 2008), the following may be consulted on plot, characterization, and recent fragments (especially Nünlist 2004).

                                                                                                        • Arnott, W. Geoffrey. 1987. The time-scale of Menander’s Epitrepontes. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphie 70:19–31.

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                                                                                                          On the question of whether the dramatic time of Menander’s comedies could exceed a single day (as Aristotle had recommended for tragedy).

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                                                                                                          • Iverson, Paul A. 2001. Coal for diamonds: Syriskos’ character in Menander’s Epitrepontes. American Journal of Philology 122:381–403.

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                                                                                                            Syriskos is not the selfless, decent character that most critics have taken him to be.

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                                                                                                            • Konstan, David. 1995. Greek comedy and ideology. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                              General treatment of social themes, useful for reading Epitrepontes. Discusses Menander in relation to tensions in the democratic ideology at a time of social stress.

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                                                                                                              • Nünlist, René. 2004. The beginning of Epitrepontes Act 2. In Menandro: cent’anni di papiri. Acts of the Convegno internazionale di studi, Firenze, 12–13 giugno 2003. Edited by Guido Bastianini and Angelo Casanova, 95–106. Florence: Istituto papirologico G. Vitelli.

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                                                                                                                On new papyrus fragments; with useful references to recent papers (some by Nünlist) on recent discoveries.

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                                                                                                                • Rosivach, Vincent J. 1998. When a young man falls in love: The sexual exploitation of women in New Comedy. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                  General treatment of the status of women, useful for reading Epitrepontes. Contains an excellent, unsentimental analysis of rape and other forms of sexual violence in Menander.

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                                                                                                                  • Traill, Ariana. 2008. Women and the comic plot in Menander. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                    General treatment of the status of women, useful for reading Epitrepontes. Looks especially at how women are viewed by men in Menander, and why they are so often mistaken about them.

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                                                                                                                    Perikeiromene

                                                                                                                    In this play, Glycera, a concubine, is given an autonomy and dignity that are exceptional in this genre. The conclusion raises several questions, including whether Glycera has a speaking part there (see Browne 1974); the articles below focus on the relationship between the plot and the characterization of Glycera. See Porter 1999–2000 for the relationship to tragedy.

                                                                                                                    Samia

                                                                                                                    A concubine again figures in this comedy, with a particularly poignant representation of her vulnerable status (see especially Keuls 1973); it is also a play in which both father and son prove liable to bouts of anger (see Grant 1986 on their relationship; Blume 1974 on characterization).

                                                                                                                    • Blume, Horst-Dieter. 1974. Menanders Samia: Eine Interpretation. Darmstadt.

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                                                                                                                      A close reading, particularly good on development of character.

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                                                                                                                      • Dedoussi, Christina. 1988. The future of Plangon’s child in Menander’s Samia. Liverpool Classical Monthly 13.3: 39–42.

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                                                                                                                        On a detail of the plot—the child that results from the rape of Plangon—with reference to the social context.

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                                                                                                                        • Grant, John M. 1986. The father-son relationship and the ending of Menander’s Samia. Phoenix 40:172–184.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/1088510Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          A study of the basic relationship—father and adopted son—governing the action.

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                                                                                                                          • Keuls, Eva. 1973. The Samia of Menander: An interpretation of its plot and theme. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphie 10:1–20.

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                                                                                                                            Good on representation of women, for example the cool violence with which Chrysis, the loyal concubine, is expelled from Demeas’s house; takes a strongly negative view of Demeas’s character, not shared by all critics (contrast Ireland 1994, cited under General Overviews).

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                                                                                                                            Theater, Actors, Staging

                                                                                                                            Csapo and Slater 1995 is an invaluable collection of texts, in translation, relating to all aspects of ancient drama, with useful analyses. Pickard-Cambridge 1988 is the standard work on the festivals, providing Greek texts, and now equipped with English translations. Green and Handley 1995 focuses on the nature of the ancient Greek theater. Frost 1988 is a good introduction to one aspect of Menander’s stagecraft; Wiles 1991 is an imaginative treatment of comic performance in its various aspects. Hughes 2011 covers the entire territory of performance in an accessible way. Props, an interesting aspect of ancient performance, are discussed in Dvoraki 1969–1970. On the audience of New Comedy, see Rosivach 2000.

                                                                                                                            Menander and Social Life

                                                                                                                            Aristophanes of Byzantium is said to have exclaimed: “O life, O Menander: which of you imitated the other?” Menander’s plays can be informative about various aspects of ancient social life, such as class relations, marriage (Cox 2002), slavery (Krieter-Spiro 1997), and women (Henry 1985, Rosivach 1998, Traill 2008). Scafuro 1997 examines in detail the forensic and legal background to New Comedy. Konstan 1995 and Lape 2004 treat Menander in relation to tensions in the democratic ideology at a time of social stress. Konstantakos 2008 examines Menander’s reputation in his own time.

                                                                                                                            • Cox, Cheryl Anne. 2002. Crossing boundaries through marriage in Menander’s Dyskolos. Classical Quarterly 52:391–394.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/cq/52.1.391Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              An important feature in comedy is the way love and marriage help break down social barriers.

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                                                                                                                              • Henry, Madeleine Mary. 1985. Menander’s courtesans and the Greek comic tradition. Frankfurt: P. Lang.

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                                                                                                                                A basic study of courtesans, for whom Menander seems to have had a special fondness; a sensible feminist approach.

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                                                                                                                                • Konstan, David. 1995. Greek comedy and ideology. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                  Five chapters on New Comedy (three on Menander, two on Terentian adaptations) explore how the plays negotiate tensions in the city-state ideology.

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                                                                                                                                  • Konstantakos, Ioannis. 2008. “Rara coronato plausere theatro Menandro? Menander’s success in his lifetime.” Quarderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica, n. s., 88:79–106.

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                                                                                                                                    Challenges the conventional idea that Menander was not fully appreciated in his own time.

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                                                                                                                                    • Krieter-Spiro, Martha. 1997. Sklaven, Köche und Hetären: Das Dienstpersonal bei Menander. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 93. Stuttgart and Leipzig: Teubner.

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                                                                                                                                      A detailed survey of the roles of slaves, cooks, and courtesans in all that survives of Menander.

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                                                                                                                                      • Lape, Susan. 2004. Reproducing Athens, Greece: Menander’s comedy, democratic culture, and the Hellenistic city. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                        Argues that Menander’s comedies contributed to the formation of Athenian democratic ideology.

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                                                                                                                                        • Rosivach, Vincent J. 1998. When a young man falls in love: The sexual exploitation of women in New Comedy. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                          An excellent, unsentimental analysis of rape and other forms of sexual violence in Menander.

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                                                                                                                                          • Scafuro, Adele C. 1997. The forensic stage: Settling disputes in Graeco-Roman New Comedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511583001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Fundamental study of law and extra-judicial arbitration as represented in New Comedy.

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                                                                                                                                            • Traill, Ariana. 2008. Women and the comic plot in Menander. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511482410Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Looks especially at how women are viewed by men in Menander, and why they are so often mistaken about them.

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                                                                                                                                              Style, Plotting, and Characterization

                                                                                                                                              In addition to general criticism on Menander, there are treatments that focus more specifically on matters of style and composition. Blanchard 1983 is a detailed study of plot construction. Bain 1984 and Blundell 1980 deal with particular matters of dramatic style. Zagagi 1995 treats several specific themes, including the role of courtesans. Holzberg 1974 offers a good overview (in German) of plotting and construction. Brown 1987 explains well the use of conventional names and masks in the comedies. Dvoraki 1978 and Katsouris 1975 focus on the relationship between Menander and Greek tragedy, especially the role of recognition scenes—that staple of New Comedy, by which the tensions of the plot are so frequently resolved. Halliwell 2008 looks at Greek laughter generally, and situates Menandrean humor in this larger context.

                                                                                                                                              Reception at Rome

                                                                                                                                              Among the major sources for our understanding of Menander’s comedy are the Roman adaptations by Plautus and Terence. These have to be handled with great care, since we do not possess the Menandrean originals of any surviving Latin version, with the exception of a segment from the Dis Exapaton (“Double deceiver”), the model for Plautus’s Bacchides: Handley 1968 and Gaiser 1970 provide comparisons of the two. Lefèvre 1994 and Lefèvre 2003 provided ingenious but speculative reconstructions of Menander’s originals; Lowe 1998a and Lowe 1998b are solid and scholarly. The contrasting treatments of plot and theme are illuminating (Anderson 1984, Fantham 1971, Richardson 1997). Nervegna 2013 is a masterful survey of all the relevant evidence. Gutzwiller and Çelik 2012 discusses important visual evidence for the interest in Menander.

                                                                                                                                              • Anderson, William S. 1984. Love plots in Menander and his Roman adapters. Ramus 13:124–134.

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                                                                                                                                                Good overview of love plots in Menander vs. Plautus and Terence.

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                                                                                                                                                • Fantham, Elaine. 1971. Heautontimourumenos and Adelphoe: A study of fatherhood in Terence and Menander. Latomus 30:970–998.

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                                                                                                                                                  Argues for subtle differences in Menander’s and Terence’s treatments.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Gaiser, Konrad 1970. Die plautinischen Bacchides und Menanders Dis exapaton. Philologus 114:51–87.

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                                                                                                                                                    A basic comparison between the one Roman play for which we have a substantial fragment of the Greek model.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Gutzwiller, Kathryn, and Ömer Çelik. 2012. “New Menander mosaics from Antioch.” American Journal of Archaeology 116:573–623.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.3764/aja.116.4.0573Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Visual representations are one aspect of reception, and this article presents an excellent introduction to the topic, along with exciting new discoveries.

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

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                                                                                                                                                        This was the first treatment (in the form of an inaugural lecture) of the only substantial fragment of Menander that coincides with a work in Latin New Comedy (Plautus’s Bacchides).

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                                                                                                                                                        • Lefèvre, Eckard. 1994. Terenz’ und Menanders Heautontimoroumenos. Munich: Beck.

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                                                                                                                                                          Ingenious effort at reconstruction of the Menandrean original; one of several such studies by Lefèvre and his students, and predictably controversial.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Lefèvre, Eckard. 2003. Terenz’ und Menanders “Eunuchus.” Munich: Beck.

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                                                                                                                                                            Again, an attempt, ingenious but often speculative, to reconstruct Menander’s version.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Lowe, J. Christopher B. 1998a. The intrigue of Terence’s Heauton Timorumenos. Rheinisches Museum 141:163–171.

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                                                                                                                                                              Careful analysis of places where Terence may have altered the original; one of several studies by Lowe, technical and carefully reasoned.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Lowe, J. Christopher B. 1998b. Terence, Adelphoe. Classical Quarterly n. s. 48:470–486.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/cq/48.2.470Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Like Lowe 1998a.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Nervegna, Sebastiana. 2013. Menander in antiquity: The contexts of reception. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511783623Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Thorough survey of Menander’s influence, making excellent use of archaeology, art, and a variety of other sources; the book on the subject.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Richardson, Lawrence. 1997. The moral problems of Terence’s Andria and reconstruction of Menander’s Andria and Perinthia. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 38:173–185.

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                                                                                                                                                                    A subtle discussion of how Terence may have been indebted to two Menandrean comedies in constructing the plot of his Andria.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Later Reception

                                                                                                                                                                    Menander’s influence on later comedy has been indirect, since his plays were essentially unknown in modern times until the 20th century, and then mostly in fragmentary condition. Segal 2001 is a readable overview of the New Comic heritage. Walton 2006 has a handy list of translations of Greek drama: Menander, for obvious reasons, figures minimally, but there is valuable material on the theory of translation. Hardwick and Stray 2008 offers a general treatment of the importance of reception studies.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Hardwick, L., and Christopher Stray, eds. 2008. A companion to classical receptions. Oxford: Blackwell.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A general treatment of the importance of reception studies.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Segal, Erich. 2001. The death of comedy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Survey from Aristophanes on down, with interesting remarks on Roman and later comedy, but marred by the thesis that dramatic comedy has steadily lost its original comic impulse.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Walton, J. Michael. 2006. Found in translation: Greek drama in English. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511584534Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Discussion of translations of Greek drama, with a chapter devoted to comedy and an extensive list of translations of tragedy and comedy; Menander barely figures, but there is a good theoretical introduction to the subject in general.

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