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The comedy Amphitruo des Plautus in the manuscript Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana , Plut. 36.41, fol. 1r (15th century)
Verses 85-137 of the comedy Mostellaria des Plautus in the manuscript Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana , Vaticanus Palatinus lat. 1615, fol. 87v (10th / 11th century)

Titus Maccius Plautus (* around 254 BC in Sarsina , † around 184 BC) was a Roman poet. He was one of the first and most prolific comedy poets in ancient Rome.


Plautus was born around 254 BC. Born in the small Apennine mountain village Sassina (today Sarsina in Romagna). As a teenager, he joined one of the wandering theater troupes . Then he became a Roman soldier, later a merchant. In the process, he lost his money and had to make ends meet as a wandering hand mill, according to ancient Vites. How much of this is true can no longer be determined. Only one anecdote by the great scholar Varro (1st half of the 1st century BC), which has come down to us in the Noctes Atticae des Aulus Gellius, is somewhat reliable :

Varro and most of the others have narrated that he wrote Saturio, Addictus, and a third comedy, the name of which is now unavailable to me, in a mill, after having earned all the fortune he had made in the work of the stage craftsmen , had lost in trade, had returned to Rome penniless and, in order to earn a living, had rented his labor to a miller to turn a mill called 'trusatiles' ( Göpel ).

Shipwreck and work in the mill are also central motifs in Plautus' comedies. So the question arises as to whether the content of Plautus' comedies is autobiographical or whether the later vitreous writers only assumed this and adopted details from the works.

Plautus began writing comedies around the age of 45. Comedies were very popular in its day. His - he began with Addictus and Saturio - were quickly successful with the audience, so that he could give up the miller existence and devote himself entirely to writing. Plautus died around 184 BC. Chr.


About 130 comedies were published under Plautus' name. Of these, only 21 are considered genuine. These are probably those works that the ancient philologist Varro declared to be genuine in his study De comoediis Plautinis . In his comedies, Plautus referred to current events such as the Second Punic War against Carthage , the wars in Greece against the Antigonids and Seleucids, and the capture of the poet Gnaeus Naevius . The focus was always on entertainment and a - sometimes crude - comedy, the joke of which is often still accessible to the modern reader. Plautus was strongly inspired in his work by the new comedy , especially by its most famous representative, Menander . He adapted the motifs and characters found there to the reality of Roman life. The spoken theater was supplemented by songs and flute playing.


Plautus' works were used by later dramatists from different eras for their own plays. For example, William Shakespeare leaned closely on his play Menaechmi in his youth work Die Komödie der Errungen . Heinrich von Kleist's tragicomedy Amphitryon is initially a transcription of Molière's Amphitryon , who in turn drew from Plautus 'comedy Amphitruo and based his play on Plautus' Aulularia, who wrote his play The Miser . Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and JMR Lenz dealt particularly intensively with the ancient Roman poet. Lessing studied him thoroughly (see his contributions to the history and recording of the theater ), which influenced him in his own drama style. Directly based on Plautus' Trinummus , he created the comedy Der Schatz . Two unfinished works, Justin und Weiber sind Frauen , were also adaptations of the Plautus comedies Pseudolus and Stichus . Lessing translated the comedy Captivi des Plautus into German. Lenz, the poet of Sturm und Drang , probably edited five comedies by Plautus between 1772 and 1774, transferring the old material to the German conditions of his time. The plays The Father (Asinaria), The Dowry (Aulularia), The Abductions (Miles Gloriosus), The Buhlschwester (Truculentus), and The Turkish Slave (Curculio), reviewed by Goethe, appeared in 1774 under the title Five Comedy Plays after Plautus for the German theater .

The musical composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim put his 1962 first listed Broadway - Musical Funny Thing Happened on the old Roman comedy Pseudolus of Plautus based on the in Plautus in Athens playing action after Rome was moved. The main character in both plays is the clever slave "Pseudolus", who tricks around to help his master's son to his love, a sold slave named "Phoenicium" (near Plautus) or "Philia" (near Sondheim). The musical was made into a film by Richard Lester in 1966 .


  • T. Macci Plavti Comoediae . Edited by Fridericvs Ritschelivs, Friderico Schoell, Georgivs Goetz & Gvstavvs Loewe, 4 volumes, Leipzig 1878–1894.
  • Plavti Comoediae . Edited by Friedrich Leo , 2 volumes, Berlin 1895–1896.
  • T. Macci Plavti Comoediae . Edited by Wallace Martin Lindsay , 2 volumes, Oxford 1904–1905.
  • T. Maccius Plautus: Comedies . Latin and German, ed. and over. by Alfred Klotz , Munich 1948.
  • Plaute . Latin and French, ed. u. trans. by Alfred Ernout , 7 volumes, Paris 1956–1961.
  • Plautus - Terence : Ancient Comedies . Edited by Walther Ludwig , 2 volumes, Munich 1966.
  • Plautus : Truculentus . Ed., Trans. and come by Walter Hofmann , Darmstadt 2001.
  • Plautus: comedies. Latin and German, ed., Transl. u. come over. by Peter Rau , 6 volumes, Darmstadt 2007–2009.
  • Plautus . Latin and English, ed. and over. by Wolfgang de Melo , 5 volumes, Cambridge (Mass.) 2011–2013.


  • Jürgen Blänsdorf : T. Maccius Plautus ; in: Werner Suerbaum (Ed.): The archaic literature. From the beginnings to Sulla's death (= Handbook of Ancient Latin Literature , Volume 1). Munich 2002, pp. 183–228.
  • Benjamin W. Fortson : Language and rhythm in Plautus. Synchronic and diachronic studies , Berlin and New York 2008.
  • Michael von Albrecht : History of Roman literature from Andronicus to Boethius and its continued effect . Volume 1, 3., verb. and exp. Edition. Berlin 2012, pp. 141–177.
  • Erik Gunderson: Laughing awry. Plautus and tragicomedy , Oxford 2015.
  • Elisabeth Hollmann : The Plautinian prologues and their function. On the construction of tension and comedy in the Comedies of Plautus , Berlin 2016.


  • Barbara R. Kes: The reception of the comedies of Plautus and Terenz in the 19th century. Theory - Processing - Stage , Amsterdam 1988.
  • Amy Richlin : Slave theater in the Roman Republic. Plautus and popular comedy , Cambridge et al. 2017.

Web links

Wikisource: Plautus  - sources and full texts
Wikiquote: Plautus  - Quotes
Commons : Plautus  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Aulus Gellius : Noctes Atticae 3, 3, 14
  2. ^ Carl Eduard Geppert : Rudens. A Comedy by Plautus in Latin and German . Berlin 1846.