Who was Menander?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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There were two important Greek figures named Menander, a playwright and a rhetorician.

The playwright Menander, possibly son of the wealthy Athenian general Diopeithes, lived from approximately 342 to 291 BC. An associate of Theophrastus and admirer of Euripides, was a practitioner of a genre known as `new comedy`, a genre focussed on domestic rather than political humour, and lacking a chorus. His works portrayed ordinary people rather than the gods and heroes of tragedy. Substantial parts of a few of his works have been discovered on papyrus in the past 50 years, greatly increasing our knowledge of new comedy.

The late antique rhetorician Menander is probably not the author of the treatises on epideictic which have been transmitted under his name, but was an important commentator on Demosthenes.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The most famous historical figure named Menander was a Greek dramatist.  Menander lived during the Hellenistic period, being born sometime around 340 and dying around 290 BCE.

Menander was best known for his comic dramas.  These plays of his were very influential to later civilizations.  This impact includes his plays' influence on the Roman playwrights Terence and Plautus, who adapted plays of his to their own time, and even on William Shakespeare.  Menander was also the source of many quotations that would have been well-known to people of his time.  He was quoted by Julius Caesar as well as being quoted in the Bible.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The Greek dramatist Menander (342 B. C.–291 B. C.) is best known for his style of New Comedy, writing more than 100 plays, many of them prize-winning. The son of influential parents, Menander was a close friend of the Athenian ruler Demetrius and the philosopher Theophrastus. Few of his bawdy plays were believed to have survived, and his works were primarily known by mention of other writers. However, partial manuscripts were discovered in the early 20th century, including one inside the case of a mummy. Menander suffered the indignities of sharing his mistress, Glycera, with rival dramatist Philemon; and the apparent accidental drowning in his own bath. Menander's best-known quote can be found in 1st Corinthians 15:33 (written by Paul the apostle):

"Bad company corrupts good character."


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