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440Comparative Drama presents factual material in lists and tables. The book's overall thesis clarifies a familiar ambivalence about Rome—in fact, about all classical materials—during this period. Ronan's clear attention to conflation of time and space leads his readers to take a fresh look at the savage price of secular grandeur reflected in British Roman drama. MARGARET J. ARNOLD University ofKansas J. Michael Walton and Peter D. Arnott. Menander and the Making of Comedy. Contributions in Drama and Theatre Studies, 67. Westport , Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. Pp. xiii + 161 pp. + 12 plates. $55.00 (casebound); $16.95 (paperbound). Menander, as many recent studies point out, provides the theater historian and lover of drama with a problem. On the one hand, he wrote as many as one hundred comedies in Athens in the late fourth and early third centuries B.C.E., and although not especially successful in his own day, he became an immediate classic after his death. The effusion of Aristophanes ofByzantium, "Oh, Menander and Life! Which ofyou has imitated the other?" sums up his reputation for effective and realistic presentation of his material. In antiquity his plays were widely disseminated on papyrus rolls and revived in the theater. Illustrations of scenes from them were favorite subjects in domestic art. The Romans knew him also through the adaptations by Plautus, Terence, and their contemporaries . But in spite all this, Menander's plays did not survive the end of the ancient world. Neither the Middle Ages nor the Renaissance knew Menander more than by reputation and as the author of hundreds of short quotations cited in other sources. It was only beginning in the nineteenth century that heftier fragments of the plays began to come to light on ancient papyri found preserved in Egypt, where Hellenistic culture had thrived in the centuries after its conquest by Alexander. Most significant was a codex found in 1905 that contained lengthy portions of five of his comedies including Epitrepontes (The Arbitrators), Perikeiromene (She Who Was Shorn), Samia (The Womanfrom Samos), and Heros (The Guardian Spirit); and the Bodmer codex that came to light after World War II gave us an almost complete play, the Dyskolos (The Malcontent), as well as important sections ofAspis (The Shield) and The Woman from Samos. We can, as a consequence, now judge this once very popular and influential figure on the basis of two performable scripts—Dyskolos, and The Woman from Samos—and a fairly large number of very tantalizing sections of plays. Reaction to the discovery of the complete Dyskolos was tepid, as the play appears superficially to be like a slow play by Terence. This Reviews441 did not discourage scholarly effort, however. Sandbach's 1972 Oxford Classical Text of the extant material was followed in 1973 by Gomme and Sandbach's very thorough commentary, and there have followed a series of translations and analyses of Menander that have made clearer his virtues and the qualities which so appealed to the ancient world. Menander and the Making ofComedy joins this group, in part as an act of homage. Peter D. Arnott, known for his many books on classical drama, but especially for his marionette performances of Greek tragedy and comedy, began the book before his death in 1990. J. Michael Walton—translator of Menander and author of several books on the Greek theater—took Arnott's beginning (some sixty-seven pages oftext in addition to notes and an outline) and has made it into a text which is now part of the series from Greenwood Press titled Lives of the Theatre. It appears in paperback "to facilitate use in college and university courses" (ix); this review will therefore principally be interested in its suitability for that readership. Walton states in his Preface that "the thesis . . . , if there is one, is that [Menander] was a spell-binding story teller who loved his characters like children, sympathizing with them when they were most unreasonable and doing whatever he could to ensure that they escaped from the scrapes that they managed to engineer" (xii). More broadly, he observes, "Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes belong on the world's stages, never more so than in a time as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 440-443
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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