The late fourth century b.c. gave rise to New Comedy---a comedy of manners that was more refined and lacked the robustness of Old Comedy. Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, the Greek playwright Menander's plays were known only through adaptations and translations made by the Roman dramatists Plautus and Terence and by the comments of Ovid and Pliny. Menander wrote approximately 100 plays, and the few extant in the Greek text were found on papyrus rolls in the rubbish heaps of Roman Egypt. However, "The Dyskolos," the first complete Menander New Comedy to be discovered intact, turned up on papyrus in a private Swiss collection. His comedies are skillfully constructed, his characters well delineated, his diction excellent, and his themes mostly the trials and tribulations of young love with conventional solutions. Menander was born and died in Athens, presumably a member of the upper class, and studied under the philosopher-scientist Theophrastus, the successor of Aristotle.
Norma Miller wasformerly a lecturer in Classics at Royal Holloway College, London.