Alleged portrait of Terence, from Codex Vaticanus Latinus 3868. Possibly copied from 3rd-century original.

Publius Terentius Afer (s/; c. 195/185 – c. 159? BC), better known in English as Terence (s/), was a Roman playwright during the Roman Republic, of Berber descent. His comedies were performed for the first time around 170–160 BC. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator, brought Terence to Rome as a slave, educated him and later on, impressed by his abilities, freed him. Terence apparently died young, probably in Greece or on his way back to Rome. All of the six plays Terence wrote have survived.

One famous quotation by Terence reads: "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto", or "I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me."[1] This appeared in his play Heauton Timorumenos.[2]


Terence's date of birth is disputed; Aelius Donatus, in his incomplete Commentum Terenti, considers the year 185 BC to be the year Terentius was born;[3] Fenestella, on the other hand, states that he was born ten years earlier, in 195 BC.[4]

He may have been born in or near Carthage or in Greek Italy to a woman taken to Carthage as a slave. Terence's cognomen Afer suggests he lived in the territory of the Libyan tribe called by the Romans Afri near Carthage prior to being brought to Rome as a slave.[5] This inference is based on the fact that the term was used in two different ways during the republican era: during Terence's lifetime, it was used to refer to non-Carthaginian Libyco-Berbers, with the term Punicus reserved for the Carthaginians.[6] Later, after the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, it was used to refer to anyone from the land of the Afri (Tunisia and its surroundings). It is therefore most likely that Terence was of Libyan[7] descent, considered ancestors to the modern-day Berber peoples.[8]

In any case, he was sold to P. Terentius Lucanus,[9] a Roman senator, who educated him and later on, impressed by Terence's abilities, freed him. Terence then took the nomen "Terentius," which is the origin of the present form.

He was a member of the so-called Scipionic Circle.

When he was 25, Terence travelled to Greece and never returned. It is mostly believed that Terence died during the journey, but this cannot be confirmed. Before his disappearance he exhibited six comedies which are still in existence. According to some ancient writers, he died at sea.

Other Languages
العربية: ترنتيوس
aragonés: Terencio
беларуская: Тэрэнцый
български: Теренций
brezhoneg: Terentius
català: Terenci
dansk: Terents
Deutsch: Terenz
eesti: Terentius
Ελληνικά: Τερέντιος
español: Terencio
Esperanto: Terentio
euskara: Terentzio
français: Térence
Frysk: Terentius
furlan: Terenzi
galego: Terencio
Հայերեն: Տերենտիուս
hrvatski: Terencije
íslenska: Terentius
қазақша: Теренций
latviešu: Terencijs
македонски: Теренциј
മലയാളം: ടെറൻസ്
norsk: Terents
polski: Terencjusz
português: Terêncio
română: Terențiu
Scots: Terence
slovenčina: Terentius
slovenščina: Terencij
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Publije Terencije Afer
suomi: Terentius
svenska: Terentius
Türkçe: Terentius
українська: Теренцій