Terence’s literary activity displayed itself wholly in the production of palliatae , plays that are fundamentally Greek and are representations of Greek habits, morals, and customs. The name palliatae comes from the pallium, a Greek cloak worn by the actor. It is clear that Terence deliberately tried not to break the Greek illusion. The characters must have seemed distinctly foreign to the Roman audience to such an extent that sometimes it appears that the only truly Latin element in his plays is the language. He based all of his plays on the Greek New Comedy; his favorite model was Menander , on whose plays four of Terence’s are based (Andria, The Self-Tormentor, The Eunuch, and The Brothers). The remaining two (Phormio and The Mother-in-Law) are based on originals by the later writer Apollodorus.
Terence’s use of the Greek plays led to an accusation of contamnatio (contamination). Normally, the use of a Greek original meant the closest possible adherence to it. Terence, contrary to the artistic usage of the time, used parts and materials drawn from more than one Greek model in the construction of a play. Terence countered the charge in the prologues of several plays, most notably in Andria. It is now generally accepted that the charge was malicious and inspired by the jealousy of his enemies.
All six of Terence’s plays tend to be...
(The entire section is 2308 words.)
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