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MENANDER
Form: Gr. Menandros.
The chief representative of the Later Attic Comedy, born in B.C. 342, at Athens, of a distinguished and wealthy family. He received a careful education, and led a comfortable and luxurious life, partly at Athens, and partly at his estate in the Piraeus, the harbour of Athens, enjoying the intimate friendship of his contemporary and the friend of his youth, Epicurus, of Theophrastus, and of Demetrius Phalereus. He declined an invitation of king Ptolemy I of Egypt, so as not to have his comfort disturbed. At the height of his poetic productiveness he was drowned while bathing in the Piraeus, at the age of 52. His uncle Alexis had given him some preparatory training in dramatic composition. As early as 322 he made his first appearance as an author. He wrote above a hundred pieces, and worked with the greatest facility; but he only obtained the first prize for eight comedies, in the competition with his popular rival Philemon. The admiration accorded him by posterity was all the greater: there was only one opinion about the excellence of his work. His principal merits were remarkable inventiveness, skillful arrangement of plots, life-like painting of character, a clever and refined wit, elegant and graceful language, and a copious supply of maxims based on a profound knowledge of the world. These last were collected in regular anthologies and form the bulk of the extant fragments. Unfortunately not one of his plays has survived, although they were much read down to a late date. However, apart from about seventy-three titles, and numerous fragments (some of considerable length), we have transcripts of his comedies (in which, of course, the delicate beauties of the original are lost), in a number of Latin plays by Plautus (Bacchides, Stichus, Poenulus), and Terence (Andria, Eunuchus, Hautontimorumenos, Adelphi). Lucian also, in his Conversations of Hetoeroe, and Alciphron in his Letters, have made frequent use of Menander.
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