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Marble portrait of Menander featured at the Getty Villa
Marble portrait of Menander featured at the Getty Villa
Menander [Μένανδρος] (ca. 342 - 291 BCE) Greek dramatist, the chief representative of the "New Comedy," was born in Athens and a contemporary of Epicurus. He was the son of well-to-do parents; his father Diopeithes is identified by some with the Athenian general and governor of the Thracian Chersonese known from the speech of Demosthenes De Chersoneso. He presumably derived his taste for the comic drama from his uncle Alexis.

In the plays of Menander, the story is more or less credible (if one is willing to accept doppelgänger and frequent cases of mistaken identity and misunderstanding) and the characters are realistic. Often, the comedy also contains a tragic element, which makes it even more convincing.

Unfortunately, only one play, The bad-tempered man, survives, together with considerable portions of a further five. However, his comedies continued to be popular well into Roman times and many of them were translated into Latin and adapted by authors like Terentius and Plautus, and these plays have survived. During the Renaissance, several of them were translated into modern languages.

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