Terence

Terence

Original Name Publius Terentius Âfer
Birth
Death unknown
Burial Body lost or destroyed, Specifically: Disappeared in 159 BC, fate unknown to historians
Memorial ID 87163099 · View Source
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Dramatist. He lived from approximately 195 BC to 159 BC. Terence is second only to Plautus as an outstanding creator of Ancient Roman comedy, furthering the genre from its Greek origins. The six plays he wrote during his brief career all survive: "The Girl from Andros" (166 BC), "The Mother-in-Law" (165 BC), "The Self-Tormentor" (163 BC), "Phormio" (161 BC), "The Eunuch" (161 BC), and "The Brothers" (160 BC). Quotes from his work became proverbial, such as "fortune favors the brave" and "as many opinions as there are men", but the most famous line attributed to him - "I am a man, nothing human is alien to me" - is actually by Menander. Terence was probably born in Carthage (now part of Tunis, Tunisia). He was brought to Italy as a slave by the Roman senator P. Terentius Lucanus, who educated and later freed him, whereupon he took the name Publius Terentius Afer. His theatrical debut with "The Girl from Andros" brought him into the "Scipionic Circle", a group of artists sponsored by the wealthy Scipio Africanus the Younger. Like other Latin playwrights Terence adapted old Greek comedies of manners to contemporary Roman tastes. The plots of "The Mother-in-Law" and "Phormio" were borrowed from Apollodorus of Carystus; the rest are from Menander. His claim that he went beyond translation is borne out by his habit of adding scenes from different comedies to the originals. This caused some controversy in his time, though the conflations are seamlessly handled. He was evasive about another charge, that he was assisted in writing by his patrician friends, and the question (while doubted) still stands. Onstage his principal collaborators were the famous comic actor Lucius Ambivius Turpio and the musician Flaccus. Not all of his productions were hits, but "The Eunuch" earned him a record fee and he was able to purchase a 12-acre estate along the fashionable Appian Way. In 159 BC Terence set off on a journey from Rome and never returned. It is believed he visited Greece to acquire comedy manuscripts for future adaptations, and either died there from illness or in a shipwreck on the way home. His age was no more than 36. He left a daughter who married a Roman knight. The plays of Terence and Plautus offer refreshing antedotes to Ancient Rome's reputation for violent, bloodthirsty "entertainment". Roman drama was in its infancy then; the city's first permanent theatre would not be built until a century after Terence's death. Lucius Ambivius related an incident in which the audience deserted a performance of "The Mother-in-Law" when word spread of a gladiator contest being held nearby. Fortunately their works were preserved as early examples of Latin literature. Compared to Plautus and his raucous public-spirited farces, Terence was a conscious craftsman who sought aristocratic refinement and greater realism. Both used stock types but Terence was more interested in developing them as flesh-and-blood characters; he is less funny but more humane. His style of pure conversational Latin was taught for many centuries in the standard curriculum of that language. US President John Adams once wrote, "Terence is remarkable, for good morals, good taste, and good Latin...His language has simplicity and an elegance that make him proper to be accurately studied as a model". He was the first of all ancient playwrights whose work appeared in a printed edition, in 1470. Nicholas Udall was among his earliest English translators and his Roman-inspired farce "Ralph Roister Doister" (1553) is the first known English comedy. Later dramatists influenced by Terence include Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Molière.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 21 Mar 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 87163099
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Terence (unknown–unknown), Find A Grave Memorial no. 87163099, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Body lost or destroyed, who reports a Disappeared in 159 BC, fate unknown to historians.