Play by Plautus ~ Ludi Megalenses 2761 AUC (Nova Roma)

From NovaRoma
Jump to: navigation, search


AC-2logo.png This page is maintained under authority of the Aediles Curules


Salvete omnes

Today we present you a play by Plautus in celebration of the Megalesia:


Miles Gloriosus

The play Miles Gloriosus was written by Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254– 184 B.C.), who composed over 100 comedies in Latin, adapting them from Greek originals. His source for Miles Gloriosus was a Greek play, now lost, called Alazon or The Braggart. Although the characters in Miles Gloriosus speak Latin, they are meant to be Greeks, with Greek names, clothing, and customs. The action takes place in Ephesus, a Greek city on the coast of Asia Minor, famous for its Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Plautus wrote his plays entirely in verse with certain sections designed to be sung. Accompaniment was provided by an instrument similar to an oboe. Only male actors were used, and all of them wore masks.

Plot Summary

The play begins with Pyrgopolynices (Fighter of Many Fortresses), a braggart soldier, entering, escorted by three dependents and a parasite, Artotrogus (Bread Gobbler), who earns his meals by flattering the soldier excessively. Then we meet a crafty slave named Palaestrio (Wrestler), who explains, in a delayed prologue, how he has come to be the soldier's slave. Formerly he served a young Athenian, Pleusicles (Sailor), whose girlfriend, Philocomasium, was kidnapped from Athens and taken by our braggart soldier. When Palaestrio tried to reach his master with this bad news, the slave was seized by pirates and sold, by chance, to the same soldier, so both he and the girl have been living in the soldier's house in Ephesus. But Palaestrio has sent a letter secretly to his former master, telling him where they are. Now Pleusicles has come to Ephesus and is staying with a helpful old man who lives right next door to the soldier. The crafty slave has cut a hole in the wall between the two houses, enabling Philocomasium to visit her boyfriend without the soldier's knowledge.

Unfortunately, the next-door neighbor, Periplectomenus (Entangler), is frantic because some unknown slave from the soldier's house, while chasing a monkey on the roof, has observed Philocomasium and her lover kissing in Periplectomenus' house. With Palaestrio's help he chastises his slaves for not having caught the man. Then he and Palaestrio dream up a plan to fool the soldier's slave into believing that the girl he saw kissing was actually Philocomasium's twin sister, recently arrived from Athens with her boyfriend. At that moment the slave himself, Sceledrus (Criminal), conveniently turns up. Palaestrio, Philocomasium, and Periplectomenus succeed in confusing him so much that he despairs and runs away.

Palaestrio enlists the aid of the next-door neighbor and Pleusicles to pull off another scheme that he has cooked up: Periplectomenus will ask a lady friend of his to pretend to be his wife. Palaestrio will convince the soldier that this woman hates her elderly husband and is madly in love with the soldier, hoping this will prompt him to lose interest in Philocomasium and seduce another man's wife. Palaestrio will tell the soldier that Philocomasium's mother and sister from Athens happen to be visiting Ephesus that very day and could take her home with them. Pleusicles will dress up like a ship captain and bring some sailors with him to escort her to the harbor. While Periplectomenus goes off to find his lady friend and Pleusicles goes off to find a disguise, Palaestrio has a brief encounter with Artotrogus, who has been enjoying himself in the soldier's kitchen.

The old man returns with his lady friend, Acroteleutium (Highest Point), and her maid Milphidippa; they go inside his house to prepare to fool the soldier. Pyrgopolynices comes back home and runs into Palaestrio, who gives him a ring, supposedly from Acroteleutium, and tells him how much the woman loves him. Milphidippa emerges from the neighbor's house and confirms Palaestrio's story. The soldier rushes into his own house to tell Philocomasium that he is sending her home. As soon as he reappears, Acroteleutium and Milphidippa complete their trickery.

Pleusicles, wearing his disguise, arrives to escort Philocomasium to the ship where she pretends to be reluctant to leave the soldier, but the sailors' music hastens her departure. The soldier agrees to let her take Palaestrio with her as a consolation present. Two slave-boys invite the soldier to come into the neighbor's house and meet Acroteleutium. He enters, only to find the old man and the cook waiting to give him the punishment he deserves. In consequence, Pyrgopolynices learns more about himself and the world around him—a happy ending for all, with a moral to go with it.

View the Play Online!

Miles Gloriosus, as produced the Italian theater company, called "Compagnia Teatrale della Luna Nuova", at:

About Plautus

Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254–184 BCE), commonly known as Plautus, was a Roman playwright. His comedies are among the earliest surviving intact works in Latin literature. He is also one of the earliest pioneers of musical theater. The word Plautine is used to refer to Plautus's works or works similar to or influenced by his.

Little is known about Titus Maccius Plautus' early life. It is believed that he was born in Sarsina (a city in Umbria) around 254 BCE. According to Morris Marples, Plautus worked as a stage-carpenter or scene-shifter in his early years.[1] It is from this work, perhaps, that his love of the theater originated. His acting talent was eventually discovered; and he adopted the names "Maccius" (a clownish stock-character in popular farces) and "Plautus" (a term meaning either "flat-footed" or "flat-eared," as the ears of a hound [2]). Tradition holds that he made enough money to go into the nautical business, but that the venture collapsed. He is then said to have worked as a manual laborer and to have studied Greek drama— particularly the New Comedy of Menander—in his leisure. His studies allowed him to produce his plays, which were released between c. 205 and 184 BCE. Plautus attained such a popularity that his name alone became a hallmark of theatrical success.

Plautus' comedies are mostly adapted from Greek models for a Roman audience, and are often based directly on the works of the Greek playwrights. He reworked the Greek texts to give them a flavour that would appeal to the local Roman audiences. They are among the earliest surving intact works in Latin literature. (Some might more properly be called "adaptations"). His works include Amphitruo, Asinaria, Aulularia, Bacchides, Captivi, Casina, Cistellaria, Curculio, Epidicus, Menaechmi, Mercator, Miles Gloriosus, Mostellaria, Persa, Poenulus, Pseudolus, Rudens, Stichus, Trinummus, Truculentus and Vidularia.

Ref: [1] M. Marples. "Plautus," Greece & Rome 8.22(1938), p. 1. [2] S. O'Bryhim. Greek and Roman Comedy (University of Texas Press, 2001), p. 149.

Personal tools