Who was Plautus?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This is a great question. Plautus was a Roman playwright and his dates as best as we can tell are 255 (?) B.C.E. to 184 B.C.E. He was born in a small town (Sarsina) in Umbria. Not much else is known about his early biography. He wrote comedies, which were mostly remakes of earlier Greek one. However, this is not to say that he was not original. He certainly made these works his own with his own touches.

There are close to thirty comedies of Plautus that are extant today in at least some fragmentary form, which means that he is the single most important witness of the second century of all Roman writers. This makes his singularly important. 

In addition, it is important to keep in mind that Plautus wrote public plays and that he was a theatrical phenomenon, and so an individual whose work reflects cultural views. Erich Segal, one of the great Roman scholars once stated:

"Horace might boast that he created a monumentum aere perennius, but Plautus created a perennial goldmine."

In a word, Plautus’ comedies may be viewed as a way to study shared Roman cultural values as well as Roman history.

Sources:
alusingtam's profile pic

alusingtam | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

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Titus Maccius Plautus, the greatest Roman comic playwright, was born 254 B.C. in Umbria, a wine, olive, and grain producing region east of Etruria in ancient Italy. He died in 184. We think he wrote 130 plays, which we would consider musical comedy.

The name Plautus means something like "flat-footed."

Plautus was one of the two major writers of Roman (Fabula Palliata) -- Roman comedy. Plautus usually wrote about young men sowing their oats. Some of the plots of his plays can be recognized in the comedies of Shakespeare. The movie and play A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum -- note that it is appropriately musical comedy -- is based on Plautus.

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