Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD CLASSICAL DICTIONARY ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy).

Subscriber: null; date: 20 November 2017


Contaminatio, a word used by modern scholars to express the procedure of Terence (and perhaps Plautus) in incorporating material from another Greek play into the primary play which he was adapting. Terence tells us that he had done this in adapting Menander (1)'s Andria (adding material from Menander's Perinthia), and that his critics had complained that he ought not to contaminare plays in this way (i.e. to ‘spoil’ them by adding alien material: An. prologue 9 ff.; at Haut. 17 he says he has been accused in a general way of ‘contaminating’ many Greek plays while writing few in Latin). Terence claims the precedent of Naevius, Plautus, and Ennius, we cannot tell how truthfully (though some have claimed to detect contaminatio in Plautus; the fragments of Naevius and Ennius are too meagre to judge). He followed the same procedure in Eunuchus and Adelphoe but was there accused of ‘theft’ (plagiarism from earlier Latin comedies), not contaminatio.


G. E. Duckworth, The Nature of Roman Comedy (1952), 202 ff.Find this resource:

    G. Guastella, La contaminazione e il parassita (1988).Find this resource:

      Do you have feedback?