Bloomsbury (2019) p/b 141pp £17.00 (ISBN 9781350020627)

This little book is an excellent introduction to Terence’s Andria and indeed to Roman comedy in general. Chapter 1 ‘Comedy at Rome’ answers many basic questions: on what occasions were plays produced in Rome? How were they organised? Who were the writers? The actors? What were the abiding characteristics of the comic genre? Ch. 2 focuses on Terence himself: successful in his lifetime, very different from (but also sharing many features with) Plautus, not much staged in later times but becoming eventually the epitome of a refined Latin style. Ch. 3 consists of a detailed analysis of Andria: prologue, exposition, development, resolution. Ch. 4 deals with reception and Ch. 5 with translation. There is a Guide to Further Reading as well as a detailed bibliography and a helpful index.

There is very little that is new about any of this, especially in the light of G.’s own fine work Understanding Terence (Princeton 1986). But it is expressed in G.’s very clear and entertaining style. Traditional Terentian issues like contaminatio and the wordy pen-fights of the prologues are dealt with. The structure of the play receives a very detailed analysis, for its general excellence and for its occasional weaknesses (what happens to all the wedding goodies which are such a feature of Act 1.1?). The characters are subjected to a searching and stern analysis, which works very well almost all the time: the two fathers come in for especially close analysis: ‘What it means to be a father, the question that comes to dominate Adelphoe, … is already being held up for scrutiny here in his first [play].’ Occasionally one feels ‘Give Simo a break’, e.g. when in lines 55-9 he is slated for a complacent attitude to his son’s education which is surely no more than the affectionate tolerance with which Squire Brown packed Tom off to Rugby. And the ‘callous relief’ (p.37) at Chrysis’ death is surely shown by Sosia rather than Simo. But everyone will have their ‘stop-a-moment’ points when reading this detailed and clear analysis.

The final chapter—‘The Translator’s Dilemma’—seems the most original of the book. G. begins with Machiavelli’s version and ends with the late Peter Brown, with a delightful discussion of versions wilful, laborious, imaginative (‘Look ye Sirrah! If I catch you in any of your Roguy Legerdemain tricks …’[Echard, 17th century]) and sympathetic. 

The only point I would make about the organisation of the book is that I would have put Appendix 2 ‘Chronology’ in with the Introduction. The only misprint of any significance I found was ferat for fert twice on p. 23. 

Keith Maclennan