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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter reassesses the advances achieved by those twentieth-century Plautine studies that abandoned earlier Hellenocentric views of Plautus as a derivative playwright or a mere source text for his Greek originals. The first part of the chapter reviews landmark works of Plautine scholarship, arguing that their investigation of formative stimuli of non-Greek or “nonliterary” traditions on the Plautine theater helped establish an intricate, “triadic” model of interaction between Plautus and his Greek and/or Italian models, which vindicated Plautus’s essential originality. The second part, however, suggests this insight has occasionally caused Plautus’s divergence from the performance code of Greek New Comedy to be exaggerated or misconstrued. Recent interpretations of Plautus’s system of masks are offered as a typical example of such overstatement.

Keywords: Titus Maccius Plautus, comoedia palliata, fabula Atellana, “popular” theater, “plautinisches” in Plautus, Saturnalia, Mikhail Bakhtin, metatheater, improvisation, Eduard Fraenkel, Freiburg School, masks of Greek and Roman New Comedy

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