Tuesday, March 8, 2022


MENANDER (Greek, c. 342-290 BCE)

A Greek dramatist of the "New Comedy," which was mentioned when we talked about Aristophanes and the Old Comedy. Though not its originator, he is considered one of the best-known representatives of the style, which focused more on everyday life rather than on public affairs. There was less satire, then; the humor was based in things like family relations or exploiting the weaknesses of stock characters: the permissive father, young lovers, kind-hearted prostitutes, cunning servants, and so on. One of antiquity's most popular writers, Menander wrote 108 plays, only one of which survives largely intact (though it was only re-discovered in 1952). Oddly, some of his work was known to be around in the early Middle Ages: 23 plays were said to be available in the 11th century. What happened after that is a mystery.

  • The surviving play, Dyskolos ("The Grouch"), tells of a grouchy farmer with a beautiful daughter; the god Pan causes an Athenian gentleman to fall in love with her, the motive that drives the play.


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