One of the supreme comic writers of the Roman world, Plautus (c.254-184 BC), skilfully adapted classic Greek comic models to the manners and customs of his day. This collection features a varied selection of his finest plays, from the light-hearted comedy Pseudolus, in which the lovesick Calidorus and his slave try to liberate his lover from her pimp, to the more subversive The Prisoners, which raises serious questions about the role of slavery. Also included are The Brothers Menaechmus, which formed the prototype for Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, and The Pot of Gold, whose old miser Euclio is a glorious study in avarice. Throughout, Plautus breathes new, brilliant life into classic comic types - including deceitful twins, scheming slaves, bitter old men and swaggering soldiers - creating an entertaining critique of Roman life and values.
Titus Maccius Plautus was born in Umbria about 254BC. Little is known of his life, but it is believed he became an actor and translated Greek comedies for the Roman stage. He was rewarded by being granted Roman citizenship. According to Cicero he died in 184BC. EF Watling was educated at University College, Oxford. His translations for the Penguin Classics include seven plays of Sophocles, nine plays of Plautus and a selection of Seneca's tragedies. He died in 1990.