This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
THE POET, when first he applied his mind to writing, thought that the only duty which devolved on him was, that the Plays he should compose might please the public. But he perceives that it has fallen out entirely otherwise; for he is wasting his labor in writing Prologues, not for the purpose of relating the plot, but to answer the slanders of a malevolent old Poet.1 Now I beseech you, give your attention to the thing which they impute as a fault. Menander composed the Andrian2 and the Perinthian.3 He who knows either of them well, will know them both; they are in plot not very different, and yet they have been composed in different language and style. What suited, he confesses he has transferred into the Andrian from the Perinthian, and has employed them as his own. These parties censure this proceeding; and on this point they differ from him, that Plays ought not to be mixed up together. By being thus knowing, do they not show that they know nothing at all? For while they are censuring him, they are censuring Naevius, Plautus, and Ennius,4 whom our Poet has for his precedents; whose carelessness he prefers to emulate, rather than the mystifying carefulness5 of those parties. Therefore, I advise them to be quiet in future, and to cease to slander; that they may not be made acquainted with their own misdeeds. Be well disposed, then; attend with unbiased mind, and consider the matter, that you may determine what hope is left; whether the Plays which he shall in future compose anew, are to be witnessed, or are rather to be driven off the stage.
1 A malevolent old Poet: He alludes to Luscus Lanuvinus, or Lavinius, a Comic Poet of his time, but considerably his senior. He is mentioned by Terence in all his Prologues except that to the Hecyra, and seems to have made it the business of his life to run down his productions and discover faults in them.
2 Composed the Andrian: This Play, like that of our author, took its name from the Isle of Andros, one of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, where Glycerium is supposed to have been born. Donatus, the Commentator on Terence, informs us that the first Scene of this Play is almost a literal translation from the Perinthian of Menander, in which the old man was represented as discoursing with his wife just as Simo does here with Sosia. In the Andrian of Menander, the old man opened with a soliloquy.
4 Noevius, Plautus, and Ennius: Ennius was the oldest of these three Poets. Naevius a contemporary of Plautus. See a probable allusion to his misfortunes in the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus, l. 211.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.