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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Early revival performances formed the earliest stage in the ancient reception of Plautus. Various interpolations hint at the different spin that revival comedians gave his texts, expanding some parts assigned to particularly successful characters or simplifying parts for humbler troupes. Later comedians imitated single lines of Plautus; imitation at the level of plot types and invention is more difficult to ascertain, because so little of comici minores has survived. When comedy receded from educated interests in the late republican and early imperial periods, Plautus came to be appreciated mostly as a source of archaic language, even a master of correct Latin usage (so Cicero), but the school syllabus included Terence, not Plautus. After a famous scolding by Horace, in school commentaries Plautus was to become the foil against which Terence's preeminence could be assessed. Donatus saw Plautus as a master of verbal humor, rather than sensible plot construction; Evanthius of Constantinople, another commentator, criticized Plautus for his use of obscure topical allusions, for a lack of stylistic unity, and for the failure to maintain the dramatic illusion.

Keywords: reception, repeat performances, interpolations, fragments of Roman comedy, intertextuality, school syllabus / canon of school authors, lexicography, archaic language, linguistic correctness, dramatic illusion, plot construction, verbal humor

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