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Prefaces to Terence's Comedies and Plautus's Comedies (1694)   By: (1670?-1730)

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First Page:

The Augustan Reprint Society

Lawrence Echard


To Terence's


And Plautus's



Introduction by JOHN BARNARD

Publication Number 129 WILLIAM ANDREWS CLARK MEMORIAL LIBRARY University of California, Los Angeles 1968


George Robert Guffey, University of California, Los Angeles Maximillian E. Novak, University of California, Los Angeles Robert Vosper, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library


Richard C. Boys, University of Michigan James L. Clifford, Columbia University Ralph Cohen, University of Virginia Vinton A. Dearing, University of California, Los Angeles Arthur Friedman, University of Chicago Louis A. Landa, Princeton University Earl Miner, University of California, Los Angeles Samuel H. Monk, University of Minnesota Everett T. Moore, University of California, Los Angeles Lawrence Clark Powell, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library James Sutherland, University College, London H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., University of California, Los Angeles


Edna C. Davis, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library


Perhaps no higher praise can be paid a translator than posterity's acceptance of his work. Laurence Echard's Terence's Comedies , first printed in 1694 in the dress and phraseology of Restoration comedy, has received this accolade through the mediation of no less a modern translator than Robert Graves. In 1963 Graves edited a translation of three of Terence's plays. His Foreword points to the extreme difficulty of translating Terence, and admits his own failure "It is regrettable that the very terseness of his Latin makes an accurate English rendering read drily and flatly; as I have found to my disappointment." Graves's answer was typically idiosyncratic. "A revival of Terence in English, must, I believe, be based on the translation made . . . . with fascinating vigour, by a young Cambridge student Laurence Echard . . . ."[1]

The Prefaces to Echard's Terence's Comedies: Made English . . . . (1694) and to his Plautus's Comedies, Amphitryon, Epidicus, and Rudens (1694) are of interest for several reasons. Both of them outline the intentions and rationale which lie behind the translations. They also throw light upon the sense of literary rivalry with French achievements which existed in some quarters in late seventeenth century England, make comments on the contemporary stage, and are valuable both as examples of seventeenth century attitudes to two Classical dramatists, and as statements of neoclassical dramatic theory. Finally, they are, to some extent, polemical pieces, aiming at the instruction of contemporary dramatists.

Laurence Echard, or Eachard (1670? 1730), was a minor cleric, a prolific hack, and an historian, a typical enough confusion of functions for the time. It suggests that Echard had energy, ability, and political commitment, but lacked a generous patron or good fortune to take the place of private means. Within the Church his success was modest: he was installed prebendary of Louth in 1697, but had to wait until 1712 before becoming Archdeacon of Stow. Echard achieved the little fame by which he is remembered as an historical writer. Perhaps he is more accurately described as a compiler rather than as an historian. His major works were The Roman History, from the Building of the City, to the Perfect Settlement of the Empire by Augustus Caesar . . . (1695 98), the equally comprehensive A General Ecclesiastical History from the Nativity of Our Blessed Saviour to the First Establishment of Christianity . . . (1702), his all inclusive The History of England from the first Entrance of Julius Caesar . . . to the Conclusion of the Reign of King James the Second ... Continue reading book >>

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