Plautus (Titus Maccius Plautus) plôˈtəs [key], c.254–184 b.c., Roman writer of comedies, b. Umbria. His plays, adapted from those of Greek New Comedy, are popular and vigorous representations of middle-class and lower-class life. Written with a mastery of idiomatic spoken Latin and governed by a genius for situation and coarse humor, Plautus' comedies achieved a great reputation. Characteristic of his plays are the stock comic figures—the knavish, resourceful slave, the young lover and his mistress, the courtesan, the parasite, and the braggart soldier. His plots and characters have had great influence upon later literature, with adaptations and imitations by many writers, e.g., Molière, Corneille, Jonson, and Shakespeare. The chronological order for Plautus' plays is unknown; 21, more or less complete, survive: Amphitruo (Amphitryon), Asinaria, Aulularia, Bacchides, Captivi, Casina, Cistellaria, Curculio, Epidicus, Menaechmi, Mercator, Miles gloriosus, Mostellaria, Persa, Poenulus, Pseudolus, Rudens, Stichus, Trinummus, Truculentus, and Vidularia (in fragments).

See G. E. Duckworth, The Complete Roman Drama (1942) and other translations by P. Nixon (5 vol., rev. 1952–62) and J. Tatum (1983); study by E. Segal (1968).

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