The Latin poets to be studied include Virgil, Lucan, Statius, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and (with certain limitations) Horace, Juvenal and Persius, as well as Plautus, Terence and the tragedies of Seneca; the prose authors recommended are Cicero, Livy and Sallust.
A consequence of this change of circumstances was that comedy was no longer national in character and sentiment, but had become imitative and artistic. The life which Terence represents is that of the well-to-do citizen class whose interests are commonplace, but whose modes of thought and speech are refined, humane and intelligent.
By looking at them together we understand how much the comedy of Terence was able to do to refine and humanize the manners of Rome, but at the same time what a solvent it was of the discipline and ideas of the old republic. What makes Terence an important witness of the culture of his time is that he wrote from the centre of the Scipionic circle, in which what was most humane and liberal in Roman statesmanship was combined with the appreciation of what was most vital in the Greek thought and literature of the time.
The one complete survival of the generation after the death of Ennius, the comedy of P. Terentius Afer or Terence (c. 185-159), exemplifies the gain in literary accomplishment and the loss in literary freedom.
Sainte-Beuve calls Terence the bond of union between Roman urbanity and the Atticism of the Greeks, and adds that it was in the r 7th century, when French literature was most truly Attic, that he was most appreciated.
The comedies of Terence may therefore be held to give some indication of the tastes of Scipio, Laelius and their friends in their youth.
He was the author of editions of several classical authors, of which the most important were: the complete works of Cicero (2nd ed., 1869-1874); Clement of Alexandria (1831-1834); Euripides (1841-1867), in continuation of Pfiugk's edition, but unfinished; Terence (1838-1840), with the commentaries of Donatus and Eugraphius.
Among critical estimates of Terence may be mentioned Sainte-Beuve's in Nouveaux lundis (3rd and 10th of August 1863), and Mommsen's in the History of Rome, book iv., chapter xiii.
Though without claims to creative originality, Terence must have had not only critical genius, to enable him fully to appreciate and identify himself with his originals, but artistic genius of a high and pure type.
The chief manuscript of Terence is the famous Codex Bembinus, of the 4th or 5th century, in the Vatican.