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Braggart Soldier


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AT: The Braggart Warrior; The Swaggering Soldier A: Titus Maccius Plautus Pf:c.205 bc, Rome Tr: 1852 G: Latin com. in verse S: Before the home of Pyrgopolynices in Ephesus, 3rd c. bc C: 8m, 3f, extrasPyrgopolynices is a boastful and lustful soldier who has abducted a young Athenian woman, Philocomasium, who is in love with a young gentleman called Pleusicles. By chance, Pleusicles' slave Palaestrio also finds himself in Pyrgopolynices' household, having been sold to him by pirates. Pleusicles is now living in a neighbouring house, and Palaestrio has contrived to break through the walls, so that the lovers can meet secretly. Unfortunately, another slave sees Philocomasium in the neighbouring house with Pleusicles; so she has to pretend that it was her twin sister he saw, requiring her to make sudden appearances via the secret passage. Palaestrio now persuades Pyrgopolynices that his neighbour's wife is in love with him, reinforcing the deceit by getting a courtesan to play the part. Losing interest in Philocomasium, Pyrgopolynices allows her to be taken away by a ‘ship's captain’ (in fact, Pleusicles in disguise) and pursues his affair with his supposed new conquest. On entering his neighbour's house, he is beaten for his adulterous behaviour and threatened with castration. Reduced to blubbering cowardice, he buys his way out of trouble and receives a contemptuous pardon.

AT: The Braggart Warrior; The Swaggering Soldier A: Titus Maccius Plautus Pf:c.205 bc, Rome Tr: 1852 G: Latin com. in verse S: Before the home of Pyrgopolynices in Ephesus, 3rd c. bc C: 8m, 3f, extras

Usually the character who blocks the lovers' path to happiness is a cantankerous older man, but here he is a vigorous and energetic younger figure, whose main vice is egotistical behaviour based on a claim to military prowess that is wholly undeserved. Based on a Greek original by an unknown playwright, The Braggart Soldier served as a model for a stock figure in European theatre, the bombastic soldier who is in fact a coward. He reappears in the figure of Thraso in Terence's The Eunuch; Beolco's Ruzante; the Captain in commedia dell'arte, in Lodovico Dolce's The Captain (1545); in Udall's Ralph Roister Doister; in Shakespeare's Falstaff and Parolles; in Ben Jonson's Captain Bobadil (Every Man in His Humour); in Corneille's Matamore (The Theatrical Illusion); and in Shaw's Sergius (Arms and the Man).

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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