Manuscripts transmitting Donatus’s commentary on Terence sometimes preserve an anonymous treatise on dramatic works - tragedy and, primarily, comedy - whose first part can reasonably be attributed to a certain Evanthius on the basis of two citations made by Rufinus of Antioch in his works on Terence’s meters: Evanthius in commentario Terentii de fabula… sic dicit: ‘concinna argumento…’ et postea sic: ‘veteres etsi ipsi…’ (GL Keil VI 554, citing Evanthius 2.6 and 3.3). This passage also provides us with a possible title, viz. De fabula, that some scholars have used in referring to the work; against these, however, other scholars focus on the title De comoedia that appears at the end of the fourth and final chapter in some manuscripts. This seems to divide the preceding section from a new one and is - according to this group - a title that is more consistent with the contents of the work that has survived to us. It nevertheless remains clear that we have no way to be certain that the text as we have it is exactly what Rufinus was reading rather than a synthesis or reworking of it. Very little can likewise be said about the author unless one accepts the relevance of a notice from year 358 of Jerome’s Chronicle: Evanthius eruditissimus grammaticorum Constantinopoli diem obiit, in cuius locum ex Africa Charisius adducitur (note, however, that Charisius is Usener’s conjecture for the transmitted reading Chrestus).
If this is the same Evanthius - something probable even if absolutely uncertain, given the rarity of the name ‘Evanthius’ and the coincidence that both are grammatici - then the author of the De fabula will have taught at Constantinople during the first half of the 4th c.; he will have studied Terence and his meter - Rufinus inserts his name in a list of those who believed theatrical works were written in verse rather than prose (GL Keil VI 565) - and he will have been considered among the most gifted grammatici of his age until his death in 358. We may reasonably dismiss the possibility that the references are to another pair of people with the same name who also lived in the 4th c. [G. Polara; tr. C. L. Caterine].