Long before Shakespeare and Moliere carried drama to popular heights across Europe, Roman dramatists set the stage for their arrival—refining this special literary form of collaborative production, and collective reception. Roman playwrights developed stock characters to economize storytelling, many of which are used to this day. The archetypal hesitant hero, shrewd servant, vainglorious soldier, and gossiping maid that we instantly recognize today were perfected in this period. These works, written between 205 BC and AD 65, are the best extant examples of Roman drama.
The Roman Drama Collection contains the comedies and tragedies of Rome’s three most prominent playwrights: Plautus, Terence, and Seneca. All 20 of Plautus’ surviving comedies are included, representing the earliest surviving works of Latin literature. He was the most prolific Roman playwright, and his colloquial writing is rife with puns, wordplay, and shifting meaning. The six comedies of Terence, whom Martin Luther referred to as an expert on the human condition, represents the best in Latin writing. The 10 tragedies of Seneca, and their frequent themes of revenge, influenced revenge plays like Hamlet and The Spanish Tragedy.
This collection contains the complete texts in their Loeb Classical Library editions. Each text is included in its original Latin, with an English translation for side-by-side comparison. Use Logos’ language tools to go deeper into the Latin text with linked translations, definitions, and pronunciation tools. You can also use the dictionary lookup tool to examine difficult English words. Quick and easy access to maps and charts, as well as definitions and lexical information, allows you to see the historical context of these plays like never before. There has never been a better way for students of history, literature, or Latin to study ancient drama.
T. Maccius Plautus (254–184 BC) was born in central Italy and originally worked as a stage hand. He became an actor, and eventually the most popular and prolific Roman playwright. He wrote 52 comedies, 20 of which survive today.
Seneca (4 BC–AD 65), sometimes called Seneca the Younger, was a Roman philosopher, politician, and playwright. He was a tutor and advisor to Nero. He was (perhaps erroneously) caught up in a conspiracy to assassinate Nero, and was forced to commit suicide. His work has been enduringly popular through the centuries. His tragedies had a strong influence on Renaissance drama in England and France.
Terence (195–159 BC) was a Roman playwright of African descent. He was originally brought to Rome as a slave, but his master freed him after educating him and being impressed by his talents. His Libyan birth made him the first in a long line of poets from the African diaspora. He wrote all of his plays before leaving Rome at age 25, and never returned.