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Woman from Samos


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AT: The Girl from Samos; The Samian Woman A: Menander Pf:c.315–309bc, Athens Tr: 1929 (more complete text, 1972) G: Fragmentary Greek com. in verse S: A street in Athens, the present C: 5m, 3f, extrasDemeas, a prosperous Athenian, lives with his adopted son Moschion, and with Chrysis, ‘the woman from Samos’. Although she is freeborn, Chrysis as a Samian is not allowed according to Athenian law to become Demeas' wife. Moschion has fallen in love with the daughter of their neighbour, who is, however, too poor to provide a dowry for his daughter. Demeas has been away for several months, during which time Chrysis has given birth to their child, which has not survived. The neighbour's daughter has also had a child by Moschion, and, in order to keep this a secret from their parents, gets Chrysis to bring up their baby. On his return, Demeas overhears the old nurse saying that Moschion is the father of the baby Chrysis is rearing. Overcome by jealous rage, he turns Chrysis and the baby out of the house, until Moschion protests his innocence and reveals the truth. On discovering that the baby is his daughter's, the neighbour now flies into a rage, threatening to kill the child. Demeas reveals that Moschion is the father, and reiterates his approval of the marriage of the two young people. Recognizing that he could hardly make a better or more profitable match, the neighbour relents, and the play ends with general forgiveness and wedding festivities.

AT: The Girl from Samos; The Samian Woman A: Menander Pf:c.315–309bc, Athens Tr: 1929 (more complete text, 1972) G: Fragmentary Greek com. in verse S: A street in Athens, the present C: 5m, 3f, extras

The Woman from Samos and The Bad-Tempered Man are the only almost complete surviving pieces of Menander and the New Comedy. Here both comedy and moral lessons derive from the way in which Demeas and his neighbour in turn fly into unjustified rages, based on misunderstanding the situation. Like the trials of young lovers in the search for happiness, the irascibility of the old was to become a standard feature of classic comedy. However, here it is forgivable that they should both be misled by the evidence, and the potentially tragic consequences of these genuine misunderstandings give Menander's comedy a serious edge.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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