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Menander - Greek New Comedy

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Menander - Roman, after original by Kephisodotos and Timarchos, sons of Praxiteles, Marble

9086 - St Petersburg - Hermitage - Menander Menander, a Greek Playwright circa 343-291 BC. Roman, after original by Kephisodotos and Timarchos, sons of Praxiteles, of 4th century BC. Marble

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Name: Menander (Μένανδρος)
Dates (approx.): (?344/3–292/1 B.C.)
Occupation: Playwright

Menander was born in about 343 B.C. in Athens, shortly before Phillip II of Macedon defeated the Greeks at Chaeronea, about years before Alexander the Great succeeded his father to power. Menander's father was the general Diopeithes pf Cephisia. Menander survives mostly in fragments. New discoveries may yet be found among the papyri.

Menander - Training:


Menander learned philosophy from Theophrastus, the successor of Aristotle at the Lyceum and a philosopher known for his "characters". Demetrius of Phalerum was a fellow pupil. Epicurus was about a year younger.

Menander - Plays:


Menander wrote over a hundred plays, his first at age 22. Eight of Menander's comedies were prize-winners. Menander is thought to have imitated Euripides and was in turn adapted by Roman writers of comedy, Terence and Plautus. Unlike the classical writers who wrote mythical plots or political commentary, Menander, a Hellenistic Greek, chose as topics for his plays aspects of daily life. His characters were stern fathers, young lovers, crafty slaves, and more.

Menander - Survival:


One play by Menander was discovered in 1957. It is the Dyskolos, which won a prize in the Dionysia in 315. In addition, a few fragments of other comedies have survived, as well as traces in the comedy of Terence and Plautus.

Menander - Death:


In about 292 Menander died, supposedly by drowning in the Piraeus' harbor.

Sources:

Loeb edition of Menander, edited and translated by Francis G. Allinson (1921)

"Menander" Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World. Ed. John Roberts. Oxford University Press, 2007.

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