Women and the Comic Plot in Menander

Taking a fresh look at mistaken identity in the work of an author who helped to introduce the device to comedy, Professor Traill shows how the outrageous mistakes many male characters in Menander make about women are grounded in their own emotional needs. The core of the argument derives from analysis of speeches by or about women, with particular attention to the language used to articulate problems of knowledge and perception, responsibility and judgement. Not only does Menander freely borrow language, situations, and themes from tragedy, but he also engages with some of tragedy’s epistemological questions, particularly the question of how people interpret what they see and hear. Menander was instrumental in turning the tragic theme of human ignorance into a comic device and inventing a plot type with enormous impact on the western tradition. This book provides new insights into his achievements within their historical and intellectual context.

• Explores neglected literary aspects of the questions about women’s status and sexual relations raised in Menander’s plays • Situates Menander in a contemporary intellectual and literary context by showing connections with philosophy and tragedy • All citations from the Greek/Latin are translated


1. Those obscure objects of desire; 2. Misperception of sStatus; 3. Misperception of character; 4. Informing the audience; 5. The women of the Epitrepontes; 6. Why women?