Comedy and Plautus

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Aulularia is a comedic play written by Titus Maccius Plautus during a time when Athens was one of, if not the most powerful city-states in all of Europe. For this great society, historians use literary works to research and understand what the period was like. Aulularia is great play that can help historians investigate how slaves were, through Plautus’ humor you can catch how marriage and pro-creation is done and viewed in Ancient Athens. Titus Maccius Plautus, born sometime around 254 B.C.E., (died in 185 B.C.E.) in the village of Umbria was not always known as the famous comedic play-writer, but instead as the wandering miller. However, in his early age he is thought to have fled his hometown and made it as a carpenter/mechanic on the Roman stages (Plautus, Titus M, Aulularia). Plautus was in the great Roman army; there he was exposed to the Greek New Comedy and the plays of Menander (Plautus, Wikipedia). It wasn’t until around the age of 45 where he began writing plays while working his hand-mill, grinding corn for the households (Plautus, Wikipedia). Plautus’ work was simply Latin adaptations of this genre of comedy. The people of Rome found everyday life very entertaining (Titus Maccius Plautus, Theatre Database). While writing these plays he had to keep in mind that most of the audience was very un-educated. However, one thing that all Romans had in common was home and family life. Jokes were made about family life and stereotyped personalities. While politics didn’t make there way into these plays, the gods did. It was somewhat controversial in the way his characters portrayed the gods. Characters in stories can almost always be compared to a god, which left him accused of teaching the public indifference and mockery towards the gods. It was interesting how upper class citizens belittled the gods and soldiers ridiculed them. All the while pimps, courtesans, and parasites praised the gods. Plays were never the only entertainment occurring at a given time, which forced Plautus to compete for people’s attention against chariot races, horse races, and boxing matches (Plautus, Wikipedia). He would go to great measures to entertain his audiences and demand their attention. New Greek Comedy had plenty of slaves in their works usually being quite clever while playing the antagonist. However, Plautus used the slaves in his work a little differently in which they had much larger and active roles. Slaves were moved much further into the front of the action as a main character. This was Plautus’ best tactic in creating humor because people found it funny that slaves tricked their masters or compared themselves to gods. The inversion of roles by a devious and witty slave was comical and it wasn’t difficult to create a plot from there (Plautus, Titus Maccius, Theatre Database). Aulularia is a comedic play that takes place in present Athens (in relation to Plautus.) Euclio (main character) is a very poor, older gentleman that lives in Athens. Euclio’s Household God blessed him by causing Euclio to discover the treasure in his home. However, soon you realize this is hardly a blessing because he obsesses over it, keeping it safe and pretty much ostracizes himself from the rest of the community (Konstan). Megadorus a very wealthy, older gentleman decides that he would like to marry Phaedria, Euclio’s daughter. At first Euclio is very skeptical of Megadorus because there is no reason an older rich man of Athens like himself, would want to marry a very poor mans daughter. The paranoid Euclio strongly believes that Megadorus knows of his gold. In a way he forgets about this when Megadorus tells him there is no need for a dowry to go along with the wedding that would happen that same day. Excited by this Euclio accepts the offer but no longer trusts that his home will be safe for his gold. He moves the gold to the temple of Fides. Strobilus (Lyconides’ slave) overhears Euclio talking and begins looking for the gold. When Euclio...
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