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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The literary elite of the second century CE rediscovered their interest in Roman comedy, especially Plautus. The archaists concentrated on the twenty-one Varronian plays; grammarians produced commentaries on the plays they considered genuine. Fronto studied especially Plautine diction in order to make correct use of unusual archaic words in his writings. Gellius stepped beyond linguistic correctness to discuss content and literary value of both Menandrian and Roman comedy, and judged the authenticity of non-Varronian Plautine plays based on their "elegance." Apuleius showed a wide interest in comedy, its language, themes, and literary possibilities. He adapted these qualities freely in his poetry and speeches and in his novel (Metamorphoses). In his Apologia, comic allusions play to a learned and highly literate audience as a winning strategy. In the Metamorphoses, Apuleius manipulates his audience's ready recognition of Plautine stock characters and scenes, often inverting them. This practice indicates a widespread knowledge of Roman comedy among his readers.

Keywords: Apuleius, archaism, Caecilius, comic language, Fronto, Gellius, popularity, reception, Second Sophistic, stock characters, Varronian plays

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