Roman Adaptations of Greek Plays

The Rope and Other Plays - Plautus, E.F. Watling

This collection of Roman plays is what is generally considered new comedy. To put things into perspective the old comedy of classical Athens is very slapstick, political humour with a lot of fantasy elements, while the new comedy is more like a modern sitcom. Granted, some sitcoms are quite funny, but I generally compare them with sitcoms like the Crosby Show (for those who remember it). I'm not a big fan of such sitcoms myself.



It does not mean that this collection is not good, or useful, though one needs to remember that Plautus, whose name translates into English as Titus the Flatfooted Clown, doesn't necessarily write his own plays, rather he translates Greek plays into Latin. It is sort of like Hollywood taking a popular French movie and making an American version of it. Unfortunately we do not have the Greek originals, though Plautus is good in that we can look at his plays to get an idea of what the new comedy of post-classical Athens was about (not that I'm really all that interested in the new comedy of post-classical Athens).


This is a collection of four of Plautus' plays: The Ghost, which is about an attempted sale of a house; the Rope, about how a father, whose daughter was kidnapped by slavers when she was young turns up in the city of Cyrene; The Three Dollar Day; and the Amphytrio, in which Amphytrio returns home from war and Jupiter, who is sleeping with his wife, must get out of the sticky situation.


The problem with plays, or these plays in particular, is that reading them can make them difficult to follow. All plays are much easier to follow when watched than being performed, though some plays are harder to read that others. I found these plays in the hard to follow category, though it may have something to do with my lack of interest in new comedy.