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So, here is our question – which of these playwrights is considered one of the greatest Greek writers of comic drama?
Generally, the question comes with four (4) different options. Therefore, you have to select the right answer from the writers’ list of Seneca, Plautus, Terence, and Aristophanes. You may be confused but the answer is Aristophanes.
Why Aristophanes is the greatest Greek comic drama writer? – To make the concept clear, you should dive into the below discussion.
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Who Is Seneca?
Lucius Annaeus Seneca is popularly known as Seneca. He was born in 4 BC in Cordoba. Most of his lifetime, he spent in Italy. He was actually Roman philosopher, dramatist, and also statesman.
Seneca became a tutor and advisor to the Emperor Nero. He influenced Nero’s government by his thought and philosophy. With time, Seneca’s influence declined and he was forced to commit suicide. In numerous famous paintings, his calm and stoic suicide became the key subject.
Seneca was not a writer of comic drama. He had basically most of his powerful philosophical works. Still we know him because of his influential plays and philosophical writings. We all should know that most of his works were tragedies. The tragedy plays include Medea, Phaedra, and Thyestes.
His prose includes 124 letters and 12 essays dealing with various moral issues. These creations establish an important part of basic materials for Stoicism in that time.
Overall, we can’t call Seneca the greatest Greek writer of comic drama because he was not Greek and not a comic writer.
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Who Is Plautus?
Plautus was the greatest Roman comic playwright. The reason behind it was his farcical humor, theatrical genius, and strong control over the Latin language.
In Plautus’s time, writers began to directly follow the contents and forms of Greek writings. Plautus provided the importance on adaptation and translation of New Comedy of Greek.
Most of the Plautus works were plays. He wrote almost 50 plays. Twenty of them were complete writings and still, they are fully significant. Some of the most popular plays were Amphitruo, Aulularia, Asinaria, Bacchides, Casina, Captivi, Epidicus, Cistellaria, Menaechmi, Curculio, Mostellaria, Mercator, Persa, Miles Gloriosus, Poenulus, and so on.
These plays were written based on the works of the Greek comic playwrights Philemon, Menander, and Diphilus. The production times were after 205 B.C.
All-inclusive, Plautus is not the Greek playwright though he wrote many comic plays.
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Who Is Terence?
Publius Terentius Afer was a popular Roman playwright. He is now better known as Terence.
A Roman senator named Terentius Lucanus brought him as a slave in Italy. Later, the senator was very impressed by Terence’s abilities and finally, freed him.
Terence died when he was only 25 years of old. His plays influenced the Renaissance Period and Middle Ages also. These were hugely used to speak to learn the Latin language.
Terence also adapted Greek comic plays. Many historians agreed that his comics were more simple, pleasant, and direct as well than Plautus. Terence’s popular six plays were Andria, Phormio, Hecyra, Heauton, Adelphoe, and Eunuchus.
Although Terence wrote some comic plays, he was not a Greek writer.
Who Is Aristophanes?
Among many of Greek comedy-writers, Aristophanes was most popular. He was the actual representative of the comic drama and comedy writings of ancient Greek. Also, his works have been studied, performed, and preserved in highest quantity.
He wrote around 40 plays which were all popular. Eleven of them are still influential and alive with their qualities. These offer a significant example of comic drama genre recognized as Old Comedy.
Aristophanes was also known as ‘the Prince of Ancient Comedy’, he was one of the most prominent authors who recreated the ancient Greek very convincingly.
Aristophanes started his dramatic career with a play named Daitaleis in 427 BCE. It was a pure satire on the moral and educational theories of his contemporaries.
Most of his works were concerned with the literary, philosophical, and social life of ancient Athens. His writing themes were greatly provoked by the Peloponnesian War occurred between 431–404 BCE.
Aristophanes’ plays are frequently translated in different languages. After around two millennia, they are still popular and oftenly published. The greatness of his writings lies in detailed plot and dialogues.
Some of his surviving plays are following:
The Acharnians, The Wasps, The Knights, The Clouds, The Birds, Peace, Lysistrata, The Frogs, Thesmophoriazusae or The Women Celebrating the Thesmophoria, Wealth, and Ecclesiazusae.
An introduction to Greek theatre:
So, Which of These Playwrights Is Considered One of the Greatest Greek Writers of Comic Drama?
Seneca was a Roman writer and he didn’t write any comic drama.
Plautus was a comic playwright but he was not a Greek. Terence was also a comic playwright but like Plautus, he was a Roman.
On the other hand, Aristophanes was a very significant author in the ancient Greek. And he wrote many plays that are still surviving. His works poked fun at fellow artists, philosophers, and politicians.
So, the answer for the question is Aristophanes.
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