Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus

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Oxford University Press, May 21, 1987 - Literary Criticism - 316 pages
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"Mr. Segal has performed the by no means trifling task of making [Plautus's] achievement credible and understandable."--Times Literary Supplement. "It is refreshing to find Plautus examined for what he undeniably was--a theatrical phenomenon."--Classical World. "We certainly need in English a book devoted to Plautus alone and here we have it."--Phoenix. "Many readers will do as I have done: read Roman Laughter with enjoyment and profit."--Classical Philology. "Of all the Greek and Roman playwrights," Erich Segal writes, "Titus Maccius Plautus is the least admired and the most imitated." In Roman Laughter, the first book-length study of Plautus, Segal argues that this neglected writer, often denounced by scholars for such crimes as "barbarous clownery," merits our serious attention precisely because he was the most successful poet of the ancient world. He analyzes the reasons behind this success, placing the author in his social and historical context and observing that Plautus's wildly comedic flouting of Roman law and custom had a cathartic effect upon a people bound by rule in every aspect of their lives. This expanded edition contains a new preface that reconsiders the work of Plautus in light of recent scholarship and also contains essays on the Amphitryon and the Captivi.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
I O Tempora O Mos Maiorum
15
II From Forum to Festival
42
III Puritans Principles and Pleasures
70
IV From Slavery to Freedom
99
V From Freedom to Slavery
137
Problems in Plautus
171
Abbreviated Titles
227
Notes
229
Index of Passages from Plautus
289
General Index
295
Copyright

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About the author (1987)

Erich Segal was a writer, educator, and screenwriter. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 16, 1937. He graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in 1958, a M.A. in 1959, and a Ph.D. in 1964. Segal began a teaching career at Harvard University before moving to Yale University in 1964. He was also a visiting professor in classics at Princeton University and the University of Munich. He achieved international acclaim for his verse translations of Roman playwright Plautus and delivered papers before the American Philological Association and the American Comparative Literature Association. Segal collaborated on the 1958 Harvard Hasty Pudding Club production and wrote several Hollywood screenplays, including the 1968 animated Beatles film, Yellow Submarine and A Change of Seasons. His most famous novel was Love Story, written in 1970. The book was made into a film in 1970. He received a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for his screenplay. His other novels include Oliver's Story, The Class, and Doctors. He died of a heart attack on January 17, 2010 at the age of 72.

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