A NATIVE of Carthage, born about 190 B.C., Terence came at an early age to Rome, where from the lowly position of a slave in one of the patrician households he rose to distinction as one of the great representatives of Roman comedy. He belonged to the literary clique known as the Scipionic circle, of which the younger Scipio Africanus was the most conspicuous figure, and which included among others Laelius, whom Cicero afterwards made the principal interlocutor in his dialogue On Friendship, Polybius the historian, Panaetius the Stoic philosopher, Philus, and Metellus,--all of them men of broad culture and deeply imbued with a love of Greek literature.
His literary activity was confined to the production of palliatae, comedies the scenes of which were laid in Greece, and which obtained their name from the fact that the personages represented wore the Greek pallium. They were not original compositions, but were based on plays of Menander ( 342-292 B. C.), and other dramatists of the so-called New Attic Comedy, who, differing essentially in their aims from the playwrights of the Old Attic Comedy, avoided politics, and devoted themselves to the portrayal of social life. Their comedies were comedies of manners. In a majority of the plays the central interest is a love intrigue of more or less doubtful morality. The same types of character recur again and again: the tearful lover, the damsel in distress, the unscrupulous parasite,1 the intriguing slave,____________________