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Preface

Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire, et quod uides perisse, perditum ducas.

Poor Catullus, stop behaving like a fool; what you can see has been lost you should consider as lost.

In my school days, the opening lines from the eighth poem by Catullus were a favorite with lovesick teenage boys; now, many years later, I cannot look at them without thinking of generations of scholars who tried to reconstruct the lost Greek originals of our Latin plays. Much has indeed been lost, but reconstruction is not as futile a business as it might seem. Where it can contribute something to our understanding of Plautus, I have not hesitated to mention it in the introductions to individual plays. In the Curculio, for instance, signs of compression are clearly visible and the Greek original must have been longer and in places more explicit in its plot structure. I also thought it worth mentioning that the Greek original of the Epidicus is unlikely to have ended with a half-sibling wedding, even though claims to that effect can occasionally still be heard. In the Cistellaria it is some of the Latin plot that needs to be reconstructed, due to the deplorable state of the manuscript transmission. But on the whole I have tried to focus

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