October 15, 2013, by Alan Sommerstein
“Menander is a vital connecting link. He connects the society of
classical Athens … with the era of Hellenistic kings and of mercenary armies; he connects, too, the language of classical Athenians with that of later Greeks; he connects the arguments and theories of medical men and [philosophers of Aristotle’s school] with the life and love problems of ordinary citizens in extraordinary situations; he connects the traditions of Athenian tragedy and of Athenian comedy, and connects both of these with Rome and, in part through Rome, with the modern world, down to the TV soaps [of our own day].”
So I write in my editor’s introduction to Menander in Contexts, a forthcoming volume (to be published by Routledge) containing sixteen papers from the conference with the same title held in Nottingham in July last year. And some of the papers do make surprising connections. One of them, in particular, prompted me to devise a question that is probably too difficult even for Radio 4’s fiendish and wonderful Round Britain Quiz:
“How does Menander connect a Japanese warlord, a world chess champion, a British prime minister, a Native American chief, and a song about a lamp-post?”
Answer next time.