The Comedies of Terence
Translated by Frederick Clayton and introduction by Matthew Leigh
Frederick Clayton was Professor of Classics at the University of Exeter.
Matthew Leigh is Fellow and Tutor in Classics at St Anne’s College, Oxford. He is author of 'Lucan: Spectacle and Engagement' (Oxford, 1997) and 'Comedy and the Rise of Rome' (Oxford, 2004).
Acknowledgements Introduction - Matthew Leigh Select Bibliography A note on editions of the Latin texts TRANSLATIONS OF TERENCE'S PLAYS 'The Woman from Andros' 'The Self-Tormentor' 'The Eunuch' 'Phormio' 'The Mother-in-Law' 'The Brothers' Frederick W. Clayton, 1913-99 - Margaret Tudeau-Clayton Epilogue to 'The Mother-in-Law' - Frederick W. Clayton
If I had to choose a recent translation of Terence, I would favour Clayton's, in amazingly lively and readable couplets (it also has a good introduction by Matthew Leigh, but no notes or full bibliography). In Clayton's version, the Don Juan-ish rhymes sometimes call the shots and the language is inevitably not much like modern spoken English. But at least he does not let you forget that Terence was a poet, a clear-minded, writerly writer. Sometimes Clayton's Terence actually seems funny, even in our enlightened day and age.
…an enjoyable way to get to know one of the founders of European comedy.
Journal of Classics Teaching,10
Fred Clayton was a man in love with literature, and with the English and Latin languages. He was immensely learned, but hopeless at putting together the sort of connected argument that scholarly articles or monographs need, and in any case he wasn't interested in reading what other scholars had written. What he did was read the texts (and teach them, of course); his memory was simply full of them, and he could hear echoes and spot allusions that no-one else had suspected. His translations of Terence's plays, with no attempt at scholarly apparatus, are done in brilliantly deft rhyming couplets with the fluency and elegance you'd expect from someone who had most of the English poets in his head.
This is a respectable, plain version, which tells you what the Latin is about. But Clayton does more. He reminds us that we can find in Terence an ancestor for English comic verse, ranging from Ralph Roister Doister through Pope to Bernard Shaw and Ogden Nash. Clayton’s Demea sounds like a strangely laid-back, Byronic version of Prospero at the end of the Tempest.
London Review of Books
...the likeable introduction by Matthew Leigh... ... the tone is lively and readable.
Times Literary Supplement, August 24 & 31
Clayton keeps up a terrific pace and energy throughout, with varied rhythms and ingenious rhymes. It is translated into an English that is not far from modern speech, but with a dramatic distance imposed by the verse form.
Journal of Classics Teaching, 10
Size: 229 x 149 mm
Publication: January 27, 2006