Aspects of Plautus' Originality in the Asinaria

Classical Quarterly 42 (01):152- (1992)
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Abstract

That the palliatae of Plautus and Terence, besides purporting to depict Greek life, were in general adaptations of Greek plays has always been known. Statements in the prologues of the Latin plays and by other ancient authors left no room for doubt about this, while allowing the possibility of some exceptions. The question of the relationship of the Latin plays to their Greek models was first seriously addressed in the nineteenth century, mainly by German scholars, under the stimulus of Romantic criticism which attached paramount importance to originality in art. Since then the question has been constantly debated, often with acrimony, and to this day very different answers to it continue to be given. Yet the question is obviously important, both for those who would measure the artistic achievement of the Latin dramatists and for those who would use the plays to document aspects of Greek or Roman life. It is not disputed that Plautus' plays contain many Roman allusions and Latin puns which cannot have been derived from any Greek model and must be attributed to the Roman adapter. What is disputed is whether this overt Romanization is merely a superficial veneer overlaid on fundamentally Greek structures or whether Plautus made more radical changes to the structure as well as the spirit of his models

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