LCL 260: viii-ix
To an editor of Plautus, every play and every volume presents its own challenges. The greatest challenge in this volume, which comprises the Poenulus, the Pseudolus, and the Rudens, was the Punic passages in Latin script in the first play. Punic is a Semitic language that cannot be rendered in the Latin alphabet without problems. And as if it were not difficult enough to understand passages that are written in an ill-suited script and that moreover belong to a language whose finer grammatical points are still a matter of debate, the texts themselves are more corrupt than other passages of Plautus; the reason is that copyists naturally make more mistakes if they do not know the language of the texts they are copying.
The old Loeb edition of Plautus by Paul Nixon left the Punic passages untranslated, and most Latinists still ignore them today, as if they were an irrelevant oddity. However, our knowledge of Phoenician and Punic has increased to such an extent over the last fifty years that such a procedure is hardly justifiable today. Much of the Semitist literature on Punic in general and Plautine Punic in particular is inaccessible to the average Latinist for two reasons: the grammatical categories and terminology differ from Latin, and there is a tendency to render Punic in the Hebrew/Aramaic script, since unlike the Latin alphabet it