Terence, The Woman of Andros

LCL 22: 50-51

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Terence

Andria

prologus

poeta quom primum animum ad scribendum appulit, id sibi negoti credidit solum dari, populo ut placerent quas fecisset fabulas. verum aliter evenire multo intellegit. 5nam in prologis scribundis operam abutitur, non qui argumentum narret sed qui malevoli veteris poetae maledictis respondeat. nunc quam rem vitio dent, quaeso, animum advortite. Menander fecit Andriam et Perinthiam. 10qui utramvis recte norit ambas noverit, non ita dissimili sunt argumento, et tamen dissimili oratione sunt factae ac stilo. quae convenere in Andriam ex Perinthia fatetur transtulisse atque usum pro suis. 15id isti vituperant factum atque in eo disputant contaminari non decere fabulas. faciuntne intellegendo ut nil intellegant? qui quom hunc accusant, Naevium, Plautum, Ennium accusant, quos hic noster auctores habet, 20quorum aemulari exoptat neglegentiam
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The Woman of Andros

The Woman of Andros

Prologue

When the playwright first turned his mind to writing, he believed that his only problem was to ensure that the plays he had created would win the approval of the public. He now realises that the reality is quite different. He is wasting his time writing prologues, not to explain the plot but to respond to the slanders of a malicious old playwright. 6

Now please pay attention while I explain the substance of his criticisms. Menander wrote a “Woman of Andros” and a “Woman of Perinthos.” If you know one, you know them both, since the plots are not very different, though they are written in a different language and style. Our author confesses that he has transferred anything suitable from the “Woman of Perinthos” to the “Woman of Andros” and made free use of it. His critics abuse him for doing this, arguing that it is not right to contaminate 7 plays in this way. But isn’t their cleverness making them obtuse? In criticising our author, they are actually criticising Naevius, Plautus, and Ennius, whom he takes as his models, preferring to imitate their carelessness in this respect rather

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.terence-woman_andros.2001