Based on a no longer extant play of the same name by Menander, with two characters borrowed from Menander's Kolax, this proved to be the most popular of Terence's plays in ancient Rome, winning him the highest fee ever paid for a comedy. In addition to the characteristically tightly woven plot, Terence here engages in a great deal of fun in a farcical manner that might more readily be associated with Plautus, derived mainly from the stock figure of the ineffectual braggart soldier, Thraso. The figure of Thais reappears in Hrotsvitha's Paphnutius, and The Eunuch provided a source for Ariosto's The Pretenders (1509) and for the first English prose comedy, George Gascoigne's The Supposes (1566), which in turn provided the sub-plot of Bianca and her suitors in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Other versions include Charles Sedley's Bellamira, or the Mistress (1687), Thomas Cooke's The Eunuch, or the Darby Captain (1736), Edmund Ball's The Beautiful Armenia (1778), and the figure of the Braggart Soldier recurs in the plays named under Plautus' play of that name.
Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).