Plautus' comedies were adapted from Greek `new' comedies, that is `romantic' comedies rather than political comedies like those of Aristophanes which have come down to us. Full of stock characters such as the miserly old man, the libertine son, the prostitute with a heart of gold, and the clever and wily slave, these have influenced later authors such as Molière and Shakespeare (The Comedy of Errors).
This is an old translation but, like the Penguins in general, it is extremely readable but not always particularly accurate to the Latin original. The introductions are rather sparse and there are no notes. This is great, then, for the general interested reader but rather misleading if you're looking for a Latin crib.
on 6 February 2003
I bought this book to prepare me for a Latin course that involves translating one of Plautus' plays. I hadn't encountered this type of play before and was expecting heavy, dreary, unamusing hard work. You can imagine my delight when I read them to find that plays written over two thousand years ago are just as funny today. The plots are cleverly written and it is easy to see how they have inspired other playwrights. The characters are timeless.
There are introductions to each of the plays by the translator, E.F. Watling, which give you an overview of the play and some of the changes the translator has made and why. I found these interesting and as somebody new to Roman plays, very helpful.
I would recommend this book to anyone doing a Latin course or with an interest in the classics.