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Pseudolus


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AT: The Trickster A: Titus Maccius Plautus Pf: 191 bc, Rome Tr: 1827 G: Latin com. in verse S: Before the homes of Simo and Ballio in Athens, 2nd c. bc C: 10m, 1f, extrasCalidorus confesses to his slave Pseudolus that he is in love with a girl Phoenicium, who is about to be sold to a Macedonian soldier. The purchase price is 2,000 drachmas, and Pseudolus undertakes to find this amount for his master. The pimp Ballio comes out of his house, cruelly herding his women, among them Phoenicium. Despite having promised Phoenicium to Calidorus, Ballio insists that he will sell her to the Macedonian. Pseudolus warns Calidorus' father Simo that the old man will be giving him 2,000 drachmas before the day is out. Pseudolus now arranges for a fellow slave to disguise himself as the Macedonian's emissary, and Phoenicium is handed over. Ballio is so pleased to have concluded the transaction that he bets 2,000 drachmas with Simo that his son will never get Phoenicium. When the genuine emissary arrives, Ballio is obliged to pay back the purchase money to him and, recognizing that he has been tricked by Pseudolus, is also obliged to settle his bet with Simo. Simo pays the 2,000 drachmas to Pseudolus, who agrees to share it with him so that they can celebrate Simo's son's success.

AT: The Trickster A: Titus Maccius Plautus Pf: 191 bc, Rome Tr: 1827 G: Latin com. in verse S: Before the homes of Simo and Ballio in Athens, 2nd c. bc C: 10m, 1f, extras

Based on an unknown Greek original, Pseudolus establishes a recurrent theme of European comedy, the cunning and inventiveness of the servant who can outwit his master. It is a common feature of the commedia dell'arte, occurs in Molière (e.g. The Rogueries of Scapin, 1671) and in Beaumarchais (e.g. The Marriage of Figaro). Here Plautus handles a complex (if not wholly consistent) plot with his usual deftness. It is a longer play than most of his, giving him time to develop character more fully, especially that of the obnoxious Ballio, who, in the best comic tradition, gets his deserved comeuppance.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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