Menander (meh-NAN-dur) came of age in Athens just as the democracy fell. He reportedly belonged to the circle of Demetrius Phalereus, who ruled Athens for Macedonia from 317 to 307 b.c.e. In thirty years, Menander wrote more than one hundred plays, winning in dramatic competition eight times. His plays set the standard for refined domestic “situation” comedies. Although he was extremely popular in antiquity, his writings were lost for centuries until some were recovered at the beginning of the twentieth century. Only Dyskolos (317 b.c.e.; The Bad-Tempered Man, 1921, also known as The Grouch) survives complete, but it is not as good as his reputation. Better are the nearly complete Samia (321-316 b.c.e.; The Girl from Samos, 1909) and partial Epitrepontes (after 304 b.c.e.; The Arbitration, 1909), which display the complex plots and subtle characters that are Menander’s hallmark. Menander writes smooth, witty Greek that lends itself easily to being quoted for philosophical maxims.
Menander became the model for virtually all situation comedy in the Western tradition, primarily through the Roman adaptations of his plays by Plautus and Terence. The comedies of the English playwright William Shakespeare and the French playwright Molière and even modern television situation comedies ultimately go back to Menander’s legacy. Famous quotes of Menander were popular in antiquity in their own right, and he is the only pagan author to be quoted in the New Testament.
Allinson, Francis G. Introduction to Menander: The Principal Fragments....
(The entire section is 702 words.)