Terence’s Hecyra

Terence (c. 195 – c. 159? BC), translated by Kelk, Christopher (contributor-contact-email)

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Hecyra by Terence centres on Pamphilus, obligated by his father to marry Philumena despite his relationship with courtesan Bacchis. Philumena gives birth post-marriage; Pamphilus initially disavows her but later discovers he is the child’s father, leading to reconciliation. The story also delves into the familial strain induced by Pamphilus’s actions and features Parmeno, a nosy slave, for comic relief. The titular mother-in-law, Sostrata, is wrongly blamed for mistreatment of Philumena, while Myrrina, Philumena’s mother, also plays a significant role.

Initially unsuccessful, Hecyra’s 165 BC debut faced distractions, while a 160 BC performance was cancelled due to disorderly fans. It only prospered on its third staging. A once-authentic musical snippet from the play is now deemed spurious. The play draws on previous works by Apollodorus of Carystus and Menander.

Author Details

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Kelk, Christopher

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