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To the ancient world Menander was a poet second only to Homer; nowadays, with his tremendous influence on European drama, he provides genuinely interesting theatre. As Greek New Comedy's foremost innovator, he devised the first plays that really concentrate on the lives of ordinary people, polished comedies of manners turning on character and misunderstanding, executed in language that closely reflects the colloquial speech of his time. The unearthing of fragments from Menander has been among this century's most exciting literary discoveries, and scholars are hoping to find more. In the meantime, this Penguin Classic contains all but two of the plays whihc have survived on papyrus, with a selection of passages attributed to Menander, and a full introduction and notes.
Menander (c. 341-291 BC) was the foremost innovator of Greek New Comedy, a dramatic style that moved away from the fantastical to focus upon the problems of ordinary Athenians. This collection contains the full text of 'Old Cantankerous' (Dyskolos), the only surviving complete example of New Comedy, as well as fragments from works including 'The Girl from Samos' and 'The Rape of the Locks', all of which are concerned with domestic catastrophes, the hazards of love and the trials of family life. Written in a poetic style regarded by the ancients as second only to Homer, these polished works - profoundly influential upon both Roman playwrights such as Plautus and Terence, and the wider Western tradition - may be regarded as the first true comedies of manners.
Menander (341-290bc) was teh most distinguished author of Greek New Comedy. An Athenian of good family, he wrote over a hundred plays although only one survives intact today. Norma Miller was educated at the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge and spent her life as a teacher of Greek and Latin languages and literature at the Royal Holloway College. SHe is now Reader Emeritus of the University of London.