Titus Maccius PLAUTUS

Miles Gloriousus (The Braggart Soldier)

      A native of Sarsina in Umbria, Plautus (ca. 254-184 B.C.) wrote more than 100 comedies, of which twenty are extant. All of his comedies are adaptations and exhibit borrowings (contaminatio) from the plays of (mostly) Athenian comic playwrights of the fourth century B.C., such as Demophilos, Diphilos, Menander and Philemon. The Miles Glorisus is derived from a Greek original called "The Braggart", whose author is unknown. The scene is EPHESUS.

ACT I Pyrgopolyneices, the braggart soldier, boasts to his parasite Artotrogus about his military exploits, while Artotrogus prefers to talk about food. It becomes apparent that P is a womanizer and imagines himself to be irresistable. They head off to the Forum.
ACT II An Athenian, Pleusicles, met a professional woman in Athens and fell in love. But while he was absent from Athens, Pyrgopolyneices turned up, tricked the girl's mother, and carried off the girl to Ephesus against her will.

Pleusicles' slave rushes off to inform Pleusicles, but he is captured by pirates and is given as a gift to Pyrgopolyneices. The slave and the girl pretend not to know one another. The slave manages to send a message to Pleusicles.

Pleusicles arrives in Ephesus, and takes up residence next door to Pyrgopolyneices in the house of an old bachelor Periplectomenos. The slave Palaestrio digs a tunnel through the walls of the houses, and thus the girl and Pleusicles can meet secretly.

Periplectomenos orders his slaves to keep people off the roof of his house. One of Pyrgopolyneices' slaves has caught sight of Pleusicles and his girl friend (Philocomasium) kissing up there. The girl is supposed to be sent home to Pyrgopolyneices' house, but the slave Palaestrio invents a story that the girl is really twins, and that one of them is staying with her lover.

Pyrgo's slave who saw the lovers (Sceledrus) is accused by the girl (who has snuck home through the tunnel) of defamation of character. She tells of a dream she had about the arrival of her twin sister. Then she rushes back into Pyrgo's house, only to emerge from Periplectomenos' house as her own twin sister (called Dicea). Dicea/Philocomasium says that she has just arrived in Ephesus with her lover and is searching for her twin. The slave Sceledrus becomes convinced that there are really two girls.

Periplectomenos accuses Pyrgo's slave Sceledrus of mistreating his guest Dicea. Sceledrus is compelled to apologize and promises to keep his mouth shut in the future.
ACT III Pyrgopolyneices' slave Palaestrio , his real master Pleusicles, and the bachelor Periplectomenos appear and plot to deceive the soldier and make it possible for Pleusicles and Philocomasium to escape from Ephesus for Athens. Periplectomenos is supposed to hire a courtesan to pretend to be his wife and to pretend to fall in love with Pyrgopolyneices. Palaestrio will provide a ring for delivery to Pyrgopolyneices, allegedly as a gift for his 'wife'. The ring will be used as the 'proof' of adultery.

The bachelor Periplectomenos returns with his new 'wife', the courtesan Acroteleutium and her maid Milphidippa. Palaestrio explains the whole plan again. The go-betweens, the maid and the slave Palaestrio, go off to find the soldier Pyrgopolyneices.
ACT IV Palaestrio gives Pyrgo the ring, and fills him in on the 'love' of the 'wife' next door. Pyrgo is eager, and Palaestrio advises him to get rid of excess baggage (Philocomasium) and clear the decks for action. Pyrgo agrees to do so.

The maid Milphidippa rhapsodizes on Pyrgo's charms, and tells about her mistress' rapture for him. Pyrgo rushes off to rid himself of Philocomasium.

The 'wife', her maid, and young Pleusicles (disguised as a ship's captain) pretend that Philocomasium's mother has arrived and seeks her daughter. Pyrgo reports that Philocomasium has agreed to leave (He has offered her jewelry, clothing and the slave Palaestrio as farewell gifts.)

The 'wife', it is reported, has turned out her new/old husband and is eager to give herself forever to the soldier. Pyrgo informs the 'wife' that he will be at her house soon, soon, soon.

Pleusicles , as the ship captain, brings Philocomasium and her luggage out of Pyrgo's house. She and the slave Palaestrio bid a 'reluctant 'farewell to Pyrgo, and Pyrgo rushes into Periplectomenos' house.
ACT V The bachelor Periplectomenos and his slaves drag the soldier Pyrgopolyneices out of Peri's house, where he has been 'visiting' Peri's 'wife'. He is (apparently) caught in flagrante delicto. They beat him, whereupon he admits his guilt and begs for mercy, desiring not to be castrated for his crime.

Pyrgo's slave Sceledrus enters and tells Pyrgo that the ship has sailed, and that the captain was really Pleusicles, the lover of Philocomasium. Pyrgo realizes at last that he has been duped by Palaestrio the slave of Pleusicles, and he good-naturedly admits that he has got what he deserves.


May 25, 2009 8:36 AM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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