Terence,(195?–;159 B.C.), a Roman playwright. His full Latin name was Publius Terentius Afer. He is considered second only to Plautus as a Roman writer of comedies. His adaptations of the Greek New Comedy (comedy of the third and fourth centuries B.C.) into Latin were marked by polished writing and skillful construction. Only six of his plays are known today. Of these, four were based on plays by Menander, the foremost writer of the New Comedy period. Terence's plays were not mere translations, but the extent of his originality can only be surmised, since knowledge of Menander's plays is fragmentary.
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Terence's plays were popular in the original Latin and in various translations into contemporary European languages. His subtlety of plot and characterization exerted a direct influence on the comedy of manners, thus making him a literary ancestor of Molière and others who perfected this dramatic form.
Terence was born in Carthage. It is thought that he was brought as a slave to Rome while young. His wit and learning won him freedom and membership in the intellectual circle led by Scipio Africanus Minor. He lived for some time in Greece, and is believed to have died there or on a voyage from Greece to Rome.
Terence's known plays are: The Girl from Andros; The Brothers; The Self-Tormentor; The Eunuch; Phormio; The Mother-in-Law.