Эссе: Critical Essay by Dana F. Sutton


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Английский язык
Тип работы:
Эссе
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14

... Terence was willing to reproduce the quieter and more thoughtful tone of his Greek New Comedy models. Most of the specific adaptive and Romanizing touches we find in Plautus are missing. To the extent that Plautus borrowed an outlook and specific features from Italian farce-forms, Plautine comedy is firmly anchored in native Roman soil. Terence's plays are unrelentingly Hellenistic. Plautus' audience was the holidaymaking Roman people gathered in the Forum. Terence also ostensibly wrote for the kind of theatergoers described in the prologues of some of his plays, but in reality he enjoyed the patronage of progressive, enlightened, and thoroughly Hellenized patricians, Scipio Africanus (the conqueror of Carthage) and his circle. He was not so dependent on popular reception of his work, and he had good reason to concentrate more on catering to the tastes of his patrons. Insofar as he wrote for their consumption, in presenting works reflecting Hellenistic values he was therefore in the position of a man preaching to the converted, and his plays are shaped to appeal to a sophisticated intellectual elite whose idea of comedy may well have been shaped by firsthand contact with the kind of Greek originals from which Terence was working. If much in Plautine comedy invites a specifically Freudian interpretation, the same is scarcely true of Terence, particularly as he does not invite the spectator to side with sons in their contentions against their fathers in the same straightforward way. One might be tempted to explain this difference between the two playwrights in terms of their personal psychic dispositions, but such an explanation would probably be both superficial and impertinent. For Plautus the especial interest of the Oedipal situation was that it could be co-opted as a powerful sociopolitical metaphor. Terence was not, and was not obliged to be, so concemed with the conflict of Hellenistic and traditional Roman values, and so had no similar use for the Oedipal metaphor. Instead, he took a wholly different (and much more sophisticated) tack. In some of his tragedies Euripides employed the trick of placing ordinary characters in traditional heroic situations that are highly stressful, where their consequent behavior can be studied. Naturally, they cannot conduct themselves in heroic ways, and so they act out of their weaknesses and foibles rather than out of their strengths, and their motivations are those of recognizable men and women. Critics both admiring and hostile (beginning with Aristophanes, especially in The Frogs) have observed that the veneer of mythology-based tragedy often wears very thin in his plays and that he was groping toward a new kind of realistic melodrama. Terence adopts the comic equivalent of Euripides' strategy. ...