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date: 01 March 2021

Plautuslocked

, comic playwright
  • Peter G. M. Brown

Extract

Plautus (Titus Maccius Plautus) comic playwright, author of fabulae palliatae (see fabula) between c.205 and 184 bce; plays by Plautus are the earliest Latin works to have survived complete. The precise form of his name is uncertain, and in any case each element of it may have been a nickname (see A. S. Gratwick, CQ1973, 78 ff.). He is said to have come from Sarsina in Umbria, inland from *Ariminum (Jerome, Festus; an inference from the joke at Mostellaria 769 f.?), made money in some kind of theatrical employment, lost it in a business venture, and been reduced to working in a mill (Gell.NA 3. 3. 14 f., probably all fictitious). Gell. NA 3. 3 records that 130 plays were attributed to him but that the authenticity of most was disputed; *Varro had drawn up a list of 21 plays which were generally agreed to be by Plautus, and there can be little doubt that these are the 21 transmitted in our manuscripts and listed at the end below (though Varro himself believed some others to be genuine as well). Nearly 200 further lines survive in later quotations (many of one line or less), attributed to over 30 named plays.

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