This book introduces readers who may have no previous knowledge of Menander's comedies to Epitrepontes (The Arbitration), arguably the most exquisitely crafted of his better-preserved plays.
It explains what we know about the play, how we know it, and how far we can tentatively fill in the gaps in our knowledge. Sommerstein analyses the nature of the dramatic genre (Athenian New Comedy) to which Epitrepontes belongs.
He assesses the plot and the characters, every one of whom makes an essential contribution to the uplifting outcome, and the social and ethical assumptions that dramatist and audience shared.
As well as looking at the influences of earlier drama and of contemporary philosophical and popular thought, he considers the afterlife of Menandrian comedy in general and of Epitrepontes in particular, both in antiquity and in modern times, but also in the long period in between, when Menander was the great dramatist whose plays were thought to have been irrevocably lost.