Play by Terence ~ Ludi Megalenses 2761 AUC (Nova Roma)

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Salvete omnes

Today we present you a play by Terence in celebration of the Megalesia:




Andria (English: The Girl from Andros) is a comedy by Terence, a Roman playwright. It was Terence's first play, and he wrote it when he was approximately 19 years old. Terence adapted through translation from Menander's play, although as he is at pains to point out in his prologue he goes beyond mere translation. It was first performed at the Ludi Megalenses in Rome, about 170 BC. It was also the first of his plays to be performed post-antiquity, in Florence in 1476.


  • Simo - Athenian nobleman, father of Pamphilus. From 'simos', flat-nosed.
  • Sosia - Simo's freedman, party to Simo's initial plans but is not seen after the first scene. From 'sozo', saved in war.
  • Pamphilus - Simo's son publicly betrothed to Philumena but privately promised to Glycerium. From 'pan' and 'philos', a friend to all.
  • Davus - Pamphilus' slave. From Dacia, his native country.
  • Chremes - Athenian nobleman friend and peer of Simo, father of Philumena. From 'chremptomai', to spit.
  • Charinus - friend of Pamphilus, in love with Philumena. From 'charis', grace.
  • Byrrhia - Charinus' slave. From 'purrhos', red-haired.
  • Mysis - Glycerium's slave. From Mysia, her native country.
  • Lesbia - Glycerium's slave. From Lesbos, her native country.
  • Dromo - presumably also a slave of Simo's, has two short lines and is undeveloped as a character. From 'dromo', a race.
  • Crito - Andrian nobleman, an acquaintence of Chysis and Glycerium and a friend of their father. From 'krites', a judge.
  • Chrysis - an unseen character who dies before the start of the play, Glycerium's sister. She immigrated to Athens from Andros and after a time of ecking out a living at the loom becomes a harlot.
  • Glycerium - an unseen character, beloved of Pamphilus. From 'glukeros', sweet.

Plot Summary

Brief overview: Pamphilus has promised to wed Glycerium (the eponymous but unseen girl from Andros). His father had arranged for him to marry Philumena however following Pamphilus' behaviour at Chrysis' funeral, Chremes withdraws his permission to the union.

Wishing to publicly shame his son for his dalliance with a woman of low birth Simo pretends that not only will the match still go ahead it is scheduled for that same day. Pamphilus, on the advice of Davus, who has learnt of Simo's scheme, accepts the proposal willingly in order to wrong-foot his father. Simo however then persuades Chremes to again accede to giving his daughter away. This leaves Pamphilus in an awkward position as he has promised Chrysis on her death bed to protect Glycerium, Glycerium is pregnant with their son and finally his friend Charinus is in love with Philumena. Davus faces the three-way wrath of Pamphilus (for his advice), Charinus (for causing the loss of his beloved) and Simo (for double-dealing between him and his son).

The situation is saved by the fortuitous arrival of a stranger from Andros. He tells the protagonists that Glycerium was not Chrysis' natural sister. She had been left in her family's care when her uncle Phania, while searching for his lost brother, became shipwrecked on Andros and died. Chremes reveals that Phania was his brother and therefore he is Glycerium's true father. He gives Glycerium's hand in marriage to Pamphilus which leaves Philumena free to marry Charinus and absolves Davus from fault.


Terence's attittude towards prologues in general is amply displayed in this his first play. In essence it is an anti-prologue, railing against the concept and the conceits ususally contained within the dramatic device.

Act One

Simo tells his freedman Sosia that the nuptials that he is preparing for Pamphilus are a sham. When Sosia enquires as to the purpose of the sham Simo tells him of Pamphilus' shameful secret attachment to Glycerium the sister of a harlot. While Chremes had previously been so impressed by Pamphilus' moderate and upright behaviour he offered his daughter unprompted, following the uncovering of the affair between ┬┤Pamphilus and Glycerium at Chrysis' funeral he has withdrawn his offer. Simo is outraged that Pamphilus does not feel abashed by his private admonition of Pamphilus' behaviour and is continuing with the appearance of the nuptials so that he will be seen as publicly defeying his father. He also hopes he might draw out the rougish plotting of Pamphilus' slave Davus.

Davus, hiding in the background, overhears Simo's plan. Having made himself known he is told by Simo to ensure the planned nuptials go to plan, as any hint that Davus' scheming had caused the wedding's cancellation will result in Davus' incaceration. After Simo's departure Davus vows to undermine Simo's plan. He also reveals that in order to curry favour with Simo Glycerium has concocted a story that she is a free-born citizen of Athens who was shipwrecked as a child on Andros and thusly is not of base birth. Davus heaps scorn on this idea.

Glycerium is soon to give birth. Mysis leaves her mistress' house to make some preparations for this when she overhears Pamphilus bemoaning that fact his marriage to Philumena is still going ahead. Mysis reveals herself to him. Pamphilus earnestly repeats that he will not desert Glycerium. Mysis leaves to find a midwife.

Act Two

Charinus and Byrrhia talk, Byrrhia confirms the rumour that Pamphilus is still proceeding with the marriage to Philumena. Charinus declares his love of Philumena and as he is unsure why Pamphilus is going ahead with the match he vows to go and beg him at least to delay. Byrrhia warns him not to as it might appear to Pamphilus that Charinus is effect telling him that he will cuckold him at the first opportunity.

Charinus catches up with Pamphilus and begs him to break-off or delay the wedding. Pamphilus tells him that he would love nothing better than acquiese to this request and is endevouring to bring about its termonation. Charinus is relieved by this. He dismisses Byrrhia for his poor counsel. Davus approaches them and they surmise from his happy disposition that Davus is unaware of their fated heartbreak. Davus tells them that in fact the planned nuptials are a ruse and that he has checked Chremes' house and there is no sign of preparations. Charinus leaves happy that he will have his beloved Philumena.

Davus counsels Pamphilus to accept Simo's wish to marry. This will cause the match to be publicly ended by Chremes. As a disclosed libertine Simo will be willing to let him marry Glycerium rather than no one at all. Pamphilus agrees but asks Davus to ensure his father dose not discover that he has agreed to bring up Glycerium's child.

Simo enters to set his trap. Byrrhia enters and hides himself as he is under orders to watch Pamphilus' movements in regard to Philumena. Simo tells Pamphilus he must marry today. Pamphilus surprises him by agreeing. Byrrhia believes that Pamphilus is betraying his master.

Simo collars Davus and voices his suspicions of Pamphilus' volte face. Davus parries these queries and the accusation that Davus is somehow plotting against him. Davus says that any unhappiness Simo might have detected was due to Simo's mean expense on the celebrations.

Act Three

Simo and Davus overhear Mysis and Lesbia, who in the course of their conversation reveal that Pamphilus has made a pledge to support Glycerium's child. Simo believes that this is a ruse concocted by his son to anger Chremes and thereby end his wedding to Philumena.

Glycerium gives birth to a son.

Simo accuses Davus of advising his master in this deception, Davus sees his chance and denies this. With a view to avoiding suspicion to his true plans Davus tells Simo this is a plan by Glycerium to keep the attentions of his son and the next move of Glyceium's servants will be to place the new-born son on Simo's doorstep so as to prevent the wedding.

Simo meets Chremes in the street. Chremes asks why there is a rumour about town that their children will still be wed. Simo implores Chremes to reagree to the match. He reveals that, as Davus has said, Glycerium is faking a birth in order to get back together with Pamphilus. Believing Simo appraisal of the situation Chremes agrees. Simo meets Davus and thanks him for helping with his plans. He 'reveals' the nuptials had been a sham and says if they now go ahead it is wholly due to Davus' good advice. Davus privately berates himself. Pamphilus searches for Davus seeking to imprision or kill him for putting him in an intractable situation. Davus impores him to let him reedem himself and promises to come up with something to stop the wedding, but no plan comes to mind.

Act Four

Charinus on hearing that the wedding will proceed believes that his friend has betrayed him taking Philumena only because he had revealed his love of the girl. He comes on Davus and Pamphilus and accuses his friend. Pamphilus sas that it was not his doing but down to the plotting of Davus. Facing a two-time wrath Davus doubles his promise that, somehow, he will extricate Pamphilus from the union. Mysis enters telling Pamphilus that Glycerium needs his presence. Davus tells Charinus that he has a plan but there may not be enough time to pull it off, but he should go and wait in his house.

Davus bids Mysis to stay a moment, and returns with the child. He tells her to place it on the doorstep of Simo's household. Davus retires into the background as Chremes comes onto the scene, and then reappears after Chremes has seen what Mysis was doing. Chremes hides himself not realising that Davus knows he is present. Davus berates a confused Mysis for her actions, saing that it would be terrible if Chremes had come on the scene and not him. Chremes reveals himself and says the wedding is off.

Crito arrives in Athens, and on learning of Chrysis' death berates his ill fortune because, as Glycerium is in reality an orphan, he is Chrysis' closest relative and will need to take a case to law to claim her estate ahead of Glycerium who will no doubt be defended by some gallant protector.

Act Five

Chremes berates Simo for enticing him into giving permission for the wedding again. Simo molifies his rage saying what he saw was a ruse orchestrated by Glycerium and that Davus had even warned him beforehand that this would be attempted in order to break the wedding off. They then spy Davus exiting Glycerium's house. They ask him why he was there. Davus rplies that he was attending Pamphilus and that there is news that claims Glycerium is an Athenian citizen. Not believing him Simo has Davus arrested. Pamphilus arrives and Simo berates him for breaking his word. Pamphilus responds that he will indeed break his word but that his father ought to listen to Crito's story before he scolds him. Crito tells all present that Glycerium is the niece of an Athenian nobleman shipwrecked on Andros while searching for his brother. Chremes reveals that he was that brother and approving of the match gives a dowry of ten talents.

View the Play Online!

About Terence

Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence, was a playwright of the Roman Republic. His comedies were performed for the first time ca. 170-160 BC, and he died young probably in 159 BC, in Greece or on his way back to Rome. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator, brought Terence to Rome as a slave, educated him and later on, impressed by his abilities, freed him. All of the six plays Terence wrote have survived. One famous quote by Terence reads: "Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto", or "I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me." This appeared in his play Heauton Timorumenos. This phrase demonstrates the progressive, tolerant way that Terence viewed the world.

Terence's date of birth is disputed; Aelius Donatus, in his incomplete Commentum Terenti, considers the year 185 BC to be the year Terentius was born; Fenestella, on the other hand, states that he was born ten years earlier, in 195 BC. He may have been born in Carthage or in Greek Italy to a woman taken to Carthage as a slave. Terence's ethnonym Afer suggests he lived in Carthage prior to being brought to Rome as a slave. This inference is based on the fact that the term was used in two different ways during the republican era: during Terence's lifetime, it was used to refer to anyone of the Libyan corner of Africa (including Carthage); later, after the destruction of Carthage in 146, it was used to refer to non-Carthaginian Africans, with the term Punicus reserved for the Carthaginians. It is also possible, however, that Terence was of Libyan descent.

In any case, he was sold to Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator, who educated him and later on, impressed by Terence's abilities, freed him. Terence then took the nomen Terentius, which is the origin of the present form.

When he was 25, Terence left Rome and he never returned, after having exhibited the six comedies which are still in existence. Some ancient writers tend to say that he died at sea.

Like Plautus, Terence adapted Greek plays from the late phases of Attic comedy. He was more than a translator, as modern discoveries of ancient Greek plays have confirmed. However, Terence's plays use a convincingly 'Greek' setting rather than Romanizing the characters and situations.

Terence worked hard to write natural conversational Latin, and most students who persevere long enough to be able to read him in the vernacular find his style particularly pleasant and direct. Aelius Donatus, Jerome's teacher, is the earliest surviving commentator on Terence's work. Terence's popularity throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is attested to by the numerous manuscripts containing part or all of his plays; the scholar Claudia Villa has estimated that 650 manuscripts containing Terence's work date from after 800 AD. The mediaeval playwright Hroswitha of Gandersheim claims to have written her plays so that learned men had a Christian alternative to reading the pagan plays of Terence, while the reformer Martin Luther not only quoted Terence frequently to tap into his insights into all things human but also recommended his comedies for the instruction of children in school.

Terence's six plays are:

  • Adelphoe (The Brothers)
  • Andria (The Girl from Andros)
  • Eunuchus
  • Heauton Timorumenos (The Self-Tormentor)
  • Hecyra (The Mother-in-Law)
  • Phormio

The first printed edition of Terence appeared in Strasbourg in 1470, while the first post-antiquity performance of one of Terence's plays, Andria, took place in Florence in 1476.

A phrase by his musical collaborator Flaccus for Terence's comedy Hecyra is all that remains of the entire body of ancient Roman music. This has recently been shown to be inauthentic.


  • Aeli Donati Commentum Terenti, accedunt Eugraphi Commentum et Scholia Bembina, ed. Paul Wessner, 3 Volumes, Leipzig, 1902, 1905, 1908.
  • G. D' Anna, Sulla vita suetoniana di Terenzio, RIL, 1956, pp. 31-46, 89-90.
  • Tenney Frank, "On Suetonius' Life of Terence." The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 54, No. 3 (1933), pp. 269-273.
  • H. J. Rose, A Handbook of Latin Literature, 1954.
  • Michael von Albrecht, Geschichte der r├Âmischen Literatur, Volume 1, Bern, 1992.
  • See, e.g., in Luther's Works: American Edition, vol. 40:317; 47:228.

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