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PUBLIUS TERENTIUS AFER (/təˈrɛnʃiəs, -ʃəs/ ; c. 195/185 – c. 159? BC), better known in English as TERENCE (/ˈtɛrəns/ ), was a Roman playwright during the Roman Republic , of Berber descent. His comedies were performed for the first time around 170–160 BC. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator , brought Terence
Terence
to Rome
Rome
as a slave, educated him and later on, impressed by his abilities, freed him. Terence
Terence
apparently died young, probably in Greece
Greece
or on his way back to Rome
Rome
. All of the six plays Terence
Terence
wrote have survived.

One famous quotation by Terence
Terence
reads: "_Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto_", or "I am human, and I think that nothing of that which is human is alien to me." This appeared in his play _Heauton Timorumenos _.

CONTENTS

* 1 Biography * 2 Terence\'s plays * 3 Cultural legacy * 4 See also * 5 External links * 6 References

BIOGRAPHY

Terence's date of birth is disputed; Aelius Donatus , in his incomplete _Commentum Terenti_, considers the year 185 BC to be the year Terentius was born; Fenestella , on the other hand, states that he was born ten years earlier, in 195 BC.

He may have been born in or near Carthage
Carthage
or in Greek Italy to a woman taken to Carthage
Carthage
as a slave. Terence's cognomen _Afer_ suggests he lived in the territory of the Libyan tribe called by the Romans Afri near Carthage
Carthage
prior to being brought to Rome
Rome
as a slave. This inference is based on the fact that the term was used in two different ways during the republican era: during Terence's lifetime, it was used to refer to non-Carthaginian Libyco-Berbers, with the term _Punicus_ reserved for the Carthaginians. Later, after the destruction of Carthage
Carthage
in 146 BC, it was used to refer to anyone from the land of the Afri ( Tunisia
Tunisia
and its surroundings). It is therefore most likely that Terence
Terence
was of Libyan descent, considered ancestors to the modern-day Berber peoples.

In any case, he was sold to P. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator , who educated him and later on, impressed by Terence's abilities, freed him. Terence
Terence
then took the _nomen_ "Terentius," which is the origin of the present form.

He was a member of the so-called Scipionic Circle .

When he was 25, Terence
Terence
travelled to Greece
Greece
and never returned. It is mostly believed that Terence
Terence
died during the journey, but this cannot be confirmed. Before his disappearance he exhibited six comedies which are still in existence. According to some ancient writers, he died at sea.

TERENCE\'S PLAYS

_ 1496 edition of Terence's Works_

Like Plautus , Terence
Terence
adapted Greek plays from the late phases of Attic comedy . Terence
Terence
wrote in a simple conversational Latin
Latin
, and most students who persevere long enough to be able to read him in the original find his style particularly pleasant and direct. Aelius Donatus , Jerome
Jerome
's teacher, is the earliest surviving commentator on Terence's work. Terence's popularity throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
and the Renaissance
Renaissance
is attested to by the numerous manuscripts containing part or all of his plays; the scholar Claudia Villa has estimated that 650 manuscripts containing Terence's work date from after AD 800. The mediaeval playwright Hroswitha of Gandersheim claims to have written her plays so that learned men had a Christian alternative to reading the pagan plays of Terence, while the reformer Martin Luther
Martin Luther
not only quoted Terence
Terence
frequently to tap into his insights into all things human but also recommended his comedies for the instruction of children in school.

Terence's six plays are:

* _Andria_ (_The Girl from Andros_) (166 BC) * _Hecyra_ (_The Mother-in-Law_) (165 BC) * _Heauton Timorumenos_ (_The Self-Tormentor_) (163 BC) * _Phormio _ (161 BC) * _ Eunuchus _ (161 BC) * _Adelphoe_ (_The Brothers_) (160 BC)

The first printed edition of Terence
Terence
appeared in Strasbourg
Strasbourg
in 1470, while the first certain post-antique performance of one of Terence's plays, _Andria _, took place in Florence
Florence
in 1476. There is evidence, however, that Terence
Terence
was performed much earlier. The short dialogue _ Terentius et delusor _ was probably written to be performed as an introduction to a Terentian performance in the 9th century (possibly earlier).

CULTURAL LEGACY

_ Mid-12th century illustrated Latin
Latin
manuscript of Terence's Comedies_ from St Albans Abbey , now held at the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library

Due to his clear and entertaining language, Terence's works were heavily used by monasteries and convents during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
and The Renaissance
Renaissance
. Scribes often learned Latin
Latin
through the meticulous copying of Terence's texts. Priests and nuns often learned to speak Latin
Latin
through reenactment of Terence's plays, thereby learning both Latin
Latin
and Gregorian chants. Although Terence's plays often dealt with pagan material, the quality of his language promoted the copying and preserving of his text by the church. The preservation of Terence through the church enabled his work to influence much of later Western drama.

Terence's plays were a standard part of the Latin
Latin
curriculum of the neoclassical period. US President John Adams
John Adams
once wrote to his son , " Terence
Terence
is remarkable, for good morals, good taste, and good Latin... His language has simplicity and an elegance that make him proper to be accurately studied as a model."

Two of the earliest English comedies, _ Ralph Roister Doister _ and _Gammer Gurton\'s Needle _, are thought to parody Terence's plays.

Due to his cognomen Afer, Terence
Terence
has long been identified with Africa and heralded as the first poet of the African diaspora by generations of writers, including Juan Latino , Phyllis Wheatley , Alexandre Dumas , Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou .

American playwright Thornton Wilder based his novel _The Woman of Andros _ on Terence's _Andria _.

Questions as to whether Terence
Terence
received assistance in writing or was not the actual author have been debated over the ages, as described in the 1911 edition of the _ Encyclopædia Britannica :_

meets the charge of receiving assistance in the composition of his plays by claiming as a great honour the favour which he enjoyed with those who were the favorites of the Roman people. But the gossip, not discouraged by Terence, lived and throve; it crops up in Cicero
Cicero
and Quintilian , and the ascription of the plays to Scipio had the honour to be accepted by Montaigne
Montaigne
and rejected by Diderot .

SEE ALSO

* Translation * Metres of Roman comedy * Codex Vaticanus 3868 * List of slaves

PORTALS Access related topics

* _ ANCIENT ROME PORTAL _ * _ BIOGRAPHY PORTAL _ * _ LITERATURE PORTAL _ * _ THEATRE PORTAL _ * _ AFRICA PORTAL _

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