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Menander

  • By: Michael Ewans
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Menander (342/341–291/290 BCE) is the only writer of New Comedy by whom any substantial work survives. He first competed at the theatrical festivals in Athens in 321 and wrote 108 plays. One of them ( The Bad-Tempered Man) survives complete, and there are substantial fragments of six more comedies, together with shorter fragments and more than 900 citations of words, lines, or short passages quoted by later ancient writers.

Menander was less popular in his lifetime than his contemporary Philemon (he won only eight victories at the festivals), but in the 3rd century BCE he rapidly became the most celebrated comic playwright in Greece. The Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence drew heavily on Menander for plots, situations, and characters, and he was highly regarded by ...

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