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Brothers


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A: Terence Pf: 160 bc, Rome Tr: 1598 G: Latin com. in verse S: Street in Athens, before the homes of Micio and Sostrata, 2nd c. bc C: 11m, 4fTwo brothers, Micio and Demea, have different lifestyles: Micio is an easygoing town-dweller, while Demea lives in the country and is much stricter. Micio, a bachelor, has adopted Aeschinus, one of Demea's sons, while Demea continues to bring up his other son, Ctesipho. Demea is horrified to learn that Aeschinus has stolen a music girl and blames Micio for his lax education. However, Aeschinus has actually stolen the girl for his brother, Ctesipho. Aeschinus himself has fallen in love with and seduced Pamphila, the daughter of a neighbouring widow Sostrata. Sostrata imagines that Aeschinus, by taking the music girl, is abandoning her daughter. Confronted by Micio, Aeschinus confesses everything to his uncle, who gives his blessing to his marriage to Pamphila and gets his brother Demea to recognize that he has been too strict. Accordingly, Ctesipho is granted permission to marry his courtesan, and Micio completes the happiness by marrying Sostrata.

A: Terence Pf: 160 bc, Rome Tr: 1598 G: Latin com. in verse S: Street in Athens, before the homes of Micio and Sostrata, 2nd c. bc C: 11m, 4f

The last of Terence's plays, The Brothers is generally accounted his greatest. Without resorting to any of the standard comic devices of disguise or sudden revelation of noble birth, Terence here contrives to create a strong piece of theatre. It combines intellectual interest (the relative merits of two educational methods), emotional involvement (generated by Aeschinus' apparent bad behaviour, when actually he is acting on behalf of his brother), and perceptive psychology in the depiction of the two sets of brothers. Plays which reveal the influence of The Brothers include George Chapman's All Fools (c.1604), Beaumont and Fletcher's The Scornful Lady (c.1615), Molière's The School for Wives, Shadwell's The Squire of Alsatia (1688), Steele's The Tender Husband (1705), Diderot's The Father of the Family (1758), Colman the Elder's The Jealous Wife (1761), Cumberland's The Choleric Man (1774), and Henry Fielding's The Fathers (1778).

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Richard Cumberland (1732—1811) playwright and novelist


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