The Menaechmi

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  • Topic: Twin, Family, The Venetian Twins
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Plautus’ comedy The Brothers Menaechmus easily brings about laughs. The play is full of comedic motifs that keep the audience entertained. For example, in this comedy there is dirty and sexual humor, mistaken identities, asides, literal wordplay, and running gags all throughout but this paper will focus on a few key parts. This comedy outdoes itself when it comes to dirty and sexual humor . For example, in the play when Menaechmus had just stolen his wife’s night gown he asks Peniculus to smell the skirt with which he replies “I’d rather smell the upper part of a woman’s garment; elsewhere the nose detects a somewhat unwashed odor.” This is funny because it shows the dirty side of male conversation when the two fuss with each other over what had been done.

THE SUBJECT.
MOSCHUS, a merchant of Syracuse, had two twin sons who exactly resembled each other. One of these, whose name was Menaechmus, when a child, accompanied his father to Tarentum, at which place he was stolen and carried away to Epidamnus, where in course of time he has married a wealthy wife. Disagreements, however, arising with her, he forms an acquaintance with the Courtesan Erotium, and is in the habit of presenting her with clothes and jewels which he pilfers from his wife. The original name of the other twin-brother was Sosicles, but on the loss of Menaechmus, the latter name has been substituted by their grandfather for Sosicles, in remembrance of the lost child. Menaechmus Sosicles, on growing to manhood, determines to seek his lost brother. Having wandered for six years, lie arrives at Epidamnus, attended by his servant, Messenio. In consequence of his resemblance to his brother, many curious and laughable mistakes happen between him and the Courtesan Erotium, the wife of Menaechmus of Epidamnus, the Cook Cylindrus, the Parasite Peniculus, the father-in-law of Menaechmus of Epidamnus, and lastly Messenio himself. At length, through the agency of the latter, the brothers recognize each other; on which Messenio receives his liberty, and Menaechmus of Epidamnus resolves to make sale of his possessions and to return to Syracuse, his native place. Menaechmi, or The Twin Brothers, is probably the best known of the Plautian comedies because it was translated into English at an earlier date than others of his works. It is from this play that Shakespeare took the plot for his Comedy of Errors. At a glance:

* Type of Work: Drama
* Type of Plot: Farce
* Setting: Epidamnum, a city of Macedonia
* Characters: Menaechmus of Epidamnum, Menaechmus Sosicles, Messenio, Wife of Menaechmus of Epidamnum, Erotium, Peniculus * Genres: Drama, Farce
* Subjects: Traveling or travelers, Brothers, Food, Wealth, Greek or Roman times, Time, Greece or Greek people, Merchants * Locales: Europe, Roman Empire, Macedonia, ancient, Syracuse, ancient Characters Peniculus (Menaechmus's friend)

Menaechmus of Epidamnus
Erotium (Menaechmus's mistress)
Cylindrus (Erotium's cook)
Sosicles/Menaechmus of Syracuse)
Messenio (slave)
Erotium's servant
Menaechmus's wife
Father-in-law of Menaechmus
a doctor
Decio (wife's servant) Setting a street in Epidamnus, before the houses of Menaechmus and Erotium THE ACROSTIC ARGUMENT. 1
A SICILIAN merchant (Mercator) who had two sons, on one being stolen from him (Ei), ended his life. As a name (Nomen) for him who is at home, his paternal grandfather (Avus) gives him that of Menaechmus instead of Sosicles. And (Et) he, as soon as he is grown up, goes to seek his brother about (Circum) all countries. At last he comes to Epidamnus; hither (Huc) the one that was stoien has been carried. All think that the stranger, Menaechmus (Menaechmum), is their fellow-citizen, and address him (Eum) as such: Courtesan, wife, and father-in-law. There (Ibi) at last the brothers mutually recognize each other.

THE MENAECHMI
A synopsis of the play by Plautus
Almost identical twins were born to a merchant of Syracuse, in Sicily, and...
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