MENANDER (342-292 BC). The Athenian comic playwright Menander was the most prominent representative of New Comedy. In contrast to the Old Comedy of Aristophanes, comedy in Menander’s time moved away from political satire, concentrating instead on stock characters (the superstitious man, the flatterer, the rustic, the misanthrope) with all their weaknesses, failings and desires. Menander wrote over one hundred plays, winning eight victories at dramatic festivals. However, only six of his comedies have survived reasonably well-preserved, the most complete of which are Dyskolos (“The Grouch”), Samia (“The Girl from Samos”) and Epitrepontes (“Men at Arbitration”), together with numerous fragments. Thanks to later adaptations of his plays by Roman dramatists, elements of his art not only survived, but also found their way into the comedies of Molière and Shakespeare. A number of famous quotes are attributed to him, such as “What a fine thing a human being is, when truly human!”.
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