TITUS MACCIUS PLAUTUS (originally perhaps Maccus; cf.
Marx as indicating that Plautus was a member of the theatrical staff of Livius Andronicus.
The plays of Plautus are all based on Greek originals.'
Even the prologues, which later researches have shown to be in the main by the hand of Plautus himself, though certain passages were clearly added at a later date, e.g.
Plautus must therefore be regarded as primarily a translator or adapter, so far as our present knowledge goes.
But as a translator Plautus is nothing less than masterly.
"To read Plautus is to be once for all disabused of the impression that Latin is a dry and uninteresting language" (Skutsch, in Die Cultur der Gegenwart; 1905).
It is a mistake to regard the Latin of Plautus as "vulgar" Latin.
The plots of Plautus also are more varied than those of Terence.
In one respect Plautus must be regarded as distinctly original, viz.
The new comedy of Greece was probably limited for the most part to scenes written in the metres of dialogue; it remained for Plautus, as Leo has shown, to enliven his plays with cantica modelled on the contemporary lyric verse of Greece or Magna Graecia, which was in its turn a development of the dramatic lyrics of Euripides.
The lyrical metres of Plautus are wonderfully varied, and the textual critic does well not to attempt to limit the possibilities of original metrical combinations and developments in the Roman comedian.
Plautus was a general favourite in the days of republican Rome.
184), admired Plautus as elegans, urbanus, ingeniosus, facetus (De offic. i.
1: 58), where he says that Plautus was regarded as a second Epicharmus: Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi - a passage which is important as suggesting that Plautus was under some obligation to the Sicilian representatives of the old Dorian comedy; cf.
It is possible that Plautus may have been working on the lines of the old comedy in the tell-tale names which he is so fond of inventing for his characters, such as Polymachaeroplagides (Pseud.
In the middle ages Plautus was little regarded, and twelve of his plays (Bacchides - Truculentus) disappeared from view until they were discovered (in the MS. called D) by Nicholas of Troves in the year 1429.
After the revival of learning Plautus was reinstated, and took rank as one of the great dramatists of antiquity; cf.
Seneca cannot be too heavy nor Plautus too light."
Of Plautus belong to two families, which are proved by the errors which they have in common to be descended from a single source (Sicker, "Novae quaestiones plautinae," in Philologus suppl.
- Good characterizations of Plautus, from the literary point of view, are given by Sellar in his Roman Poets of the Republic, and Wight Duff, in his Literary History of Rome (1909).
The most recent works bearing on Old Latin syntax, are Sjogren, Zum Gebrauch des Futurums im Altlateinischen (1906); Lindsay, Syntax of Plautus (1907); Sonnenschein, The Unity of the Latin Subjunctive (1910).
Thomas, entitled A catalogue raisonne of the Subjunctive in Plautus, in support of the theory of the unity of origin of the Latin Subjunctive, is announced as in preparation.
- A comprehensive view of the influence of Plautus on modern literatures is given by Reinhardstoettner, Spatere Bearbeitungen plautinischer Lustspiele (1886).
Of English plays, the interlude called Jack Juggler (between 1547 and 1553) was based on the Amphitruo, and the lost play called the Historie of Error (acted in 1577) was probably based on the Menae-chmi; Nicholas Udall's Ralph Royster Doyster, the first English comedy (acted before 1551, first printed 1566), is founded on the Miles gloriosus; Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors (about 1591) is an adaptation of the Menaechmi; and his Falstaff may be regarded as an idealized reproduction or development of the braggart soldier of Plautus and Terence - a type of character which reappears in other forms not only in English literature (e.g.
There was no English translation, strictly so called, of any play of Plautus in the 16th or 17th century, except that of the Menaechmi by W.
A translation of the whole of Plautus in "familiar blank verse" by Bonnell Thornton and others appeared in 1767 (2nd ed., 1769-1774).
The imitation of Greek comedy, tragedy and epic poetry, which produced great results in the hands of Naevius, Plautus, Ennius and their successors, received its first impulse from him.
In January 1756 he says: " I determined to read over the Latin authors in order, and read this year Virgil, Sallust, Livy, Velleius Paterculus, Valerius Maximus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Quintus Curtius, Justin, Florus, Plautus, Terence and Lucretius.
The consequence of the latter was sometimes to subject them to a servitude worse than death, as is seen in the plays of Plautus and Terence, which, as is well known, depict Greek, not Roman, manners.
Plautus in more than one place thinks it necessary to explain to the spectators of his plays that slaves at Athens enjoyed such privileges, and even licence, as must be surprising to a Roman audience.
Aristophanes and Plautus show us how often resort was had to the discipline of the lash even in the case of domestic slaves.
Towards the close he incurred the hostility of some of the nobility, especially, it is said, of the Metelli, by the attacks which he made upon them on the stage, and at their instance he was imprisoned (Plautus, Mil.
While he is never ranked as a writer of tragedy with Ennius, Pacuvius or Accius, he is placed in the canon of the grammarian Volcaaus Sedigitus third (immediately after Caecilius and Plautus) in the rank of Roman comic authors.
He is also appealed to, with Plautus and Ennius, as a master of his art in one of the prologues of Terence.
His comedy, like that of Plautus, seems to have been rather a free adaptation of his originals than a rude copy of them, as those of Livius probably were, or an artistic copy like those of Terence.
The titles of most of them, like those of Plautus, and unlike those of Caecilius and Terence, are Latin, not Greek.
As a dramatist he worked more in the spirit of Plautus than of Ennius, Pacuvius, Accius or Terence; but the great Umbrian humorist is separated from his older contemporary, not only by his breadth of comic power, but by his general attitude of moral and political indifference.
The power of Naevius was the more genuine Italian gift - the power of satiric criticism - which was employed in making men ridiculous, not, like that of Plautus, in extracting amusement from the humours, follies and eccentricities of life.
Terence's earliest play was the Andria, exhibited in 166 B.C. A pretty, but perhaps apocryphal, story is told of his having read the play, before its exhibition, to Caecilius (who, after the death of Plautus, ranked as the foremost comic poet), and of the generous admiration of it manifested by Caecilius.
Plautus, though, like Terence, he takes the first sketch of his plots, scenes and characters, from the Attic stage, is yet a true representative of his time, a genuine Italian, writing before the genius of Italy had learned the restraints of Greek art.
Terence justifies this practice by that of the older poets, Naevius, Plautus, Ennius, whose careless freedom he follows in preference to the "obscura diligentia" of his detractor.
He clears himself of the charge of plagiarizing from Plautus and Naevius.
His characters are finely delineated and discriminated rather than, like those of Plautus, boldly conceived.
He makes no claim to the creative exuberance of Plautus, but he is entirely free from his extravagance and mannerisms. The superiority of his style over that of Lucilius, who wrote his satires a generation later, is immeasurable.
The authors of the Augustan age are unduly depreciated, while Ennius, Plautus, Laberius, Sallust are held up as models of imitation.
Maccius Plautus (c. 254-184) was the greatest comic dramatist of Rome.
More than Naevius and Plautus he represented the pure native element in that literature, the mind and character of Latium, the plebeian pugnacity, which was one of the great forces in the Roman state.
In Naevius, Plautus, Ennius and Cato are represented the contending forces which strove for ascendancy in determining what was to be the character of the new literature.
Among the writers before the age of Cicero he alone deserves to be named with Naevius, Plautus Ennius and Cato as a great originative force in literature.