Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence, was a comic playwright of the Roman Republic. His comedies were performed for the first time c. 170 - 160 BC, and he died young in 159 BC. He wrote 6 plays, all of which survive. (In comparison, his predecessor Plautus wrote 21 extant plays.)
Terence was a Berber, and was born as a Roman slave, but was later manumitted. He is commonly supposed - based on his approximate age and cognomen, Afer, or "The African" - to have been born in Carthage.
Like Plautus, Terence adapted Greek plays from the late phases of Attic comedy. He was more than a translator, as modern discoveries of ancient Greek plays have confirmed. However, Terence's plays use a more convincingly 'Greek' setting rather than Romanizing the characters and the situation.
Terence worked hard to write natural conversational Latin, and most students who persevere long enough to be able to read him in the vernacular find his style particularly pleasant and direct. Aelius Donatus, Jerome's teacher, is but the earliest surviving commentator on Terence's work. His popularity throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is attested by the numerous manuscripts containing part or all of his plays; the scholar Claudia Villa has estimated 650 manuscripts containing his work date from after AD 800. The mediaeval playwright Hroswitha of Gandersheim claims to have written her plays so that her nuns would spend less time reading Terence.
- Andria (The Girl from Andros, 166 BC)
- Hecyra (The Mother-in-Law, 165 BC)
- Heautontimorumenos (The Self-Tormentor, 163 BC)
- Eunuchus (The Eunuch, 161 BC)
- Phormio (Phormio, or The Scheming Parasite, 161 BC)
- Adelphoe or Adelphi (The Brothers, 160 BC)
- The six plays of Terence at The Latin Library  (in Latin)
- Andria at The Perseus Digital Library  (in English)
- Hecyra at The Perseus Digital Library  (in English)
- Heautontimorumenos at The Perseus Digital Library  (in English)
- The Eunuch at The Perseus Digital Library  (in English)
- Phormio at The Perseus Digital Library  (in English)
- The Brothers at The Perseus Digital Library  (in English)
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