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Definition: Terence, who died either at sea or in Greece in about 159 B.C., was born about 195 B.C. in Carthage. He was brought to Rome as a slave by Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator, freed, and became a Roman playwright who based his comedy on the New Comedy of Menander. New comedy was the forerunner of the comedy of manners (written by Molière, Congreve, Sheridan, Goldsmith, and Wilde).

Production notices for his plays provide approximate dates:

  • Andria - 166 BC
  • Hecyra (The Mother-in-Law) - 165 BC
  • Heauton timoroumenos (The Self-Tormentor) - 163 BC
  • Eunuchus (The Eunuch) - 161 BC
  • Phormio - 161 BC
  • Adelphi (The Brothers) - 160 BC.
Terence's plays were more refined than Plautus' for which reason he was less popular. There was also controversy during his lifetime. He was accused of contaminating the (borrowed, Greek) material and of having had assistance in the creation of his plays.

Our main sources for information on him are the prologues to his plays, the production notices, biographical material written centuries later by Suetonius, and commentary written by Aelius Donatus, a fourth century grammarian.

Also Known As: Publius Terentius Afer
Terence wrote "According as the man is, so must you humour him." Adelphoe. Act iii. Sc. 3, 77. (431.)

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