Celebrity actors in the later republic are attested by the relationship between Cicero and Roscius. The stigma attaching to acting in the Roman world is not an obstacle to celebrity status. See Csapo and Slater —7. The Virgo in Pl. McCarthy comments that the Virgo does not see any gap between appearance and reality and so is functioning in a very different universe from that of comedy. OLD s. Possibly the weaker sense of boundaries around the self in Greek thought might contribute to the complexities involved in picking up a role as theatrical performer.
Webb 7—11 discusses the anxieties expressed by late antique commentators on theatrical mimesis and the dangers it poses both to audience and to actor. On the wider history of ambivalence about the theatre from this perspective, see Goody , who situates the anti-theatrical tradition alongside iconoclasm and other forms of anxiety about representation. The role of sight in deception will be considered in ch. All theatre, then, especially all Roman and Greek scripted drama, both in form and in content is concerned with identity, but identity perverted and manipulated.
What in tragedy was hamartia — at least a part of which is a mistake based on an error about identity19 — in comedy is renegotiated and replayed, but not fundamentally denied, by comic capers around the unstable identities of its characters and ourselves.
In this analysis, hamartia is the dark twin of the comedy of errors and ultimately of the intrigue as programmatic device, where pro-comic characters get away with deceit. The humours of mistaken identity, disguise, intrigues, deceit, play-acting and recognitions all offer different but intimately connected ways of exploring the complexities, the possibilities, the limits, the difficulties of personal identity, and the control of knowledge about it, and so act programmatically for the action of the play itself. Most of his plays have recognition bound up in averting disaster cf.
This plot-type is one highly favoured by Aristotle. In response to an interlocutor who suggested that Pacuvius was just making use of a successful plot-type, rather than being influenced directly by Aristotle, Fantham points out that Ennius did not use this plot-type, as far as we can tell. But if Plautus did? This binding-up of identity, intrigue and recognition seems to be Aristotelian as well as tragic, whether or not Plautus was directly conscious of it. This is in keeping with his strongly intellectualist reading of Aristotle.
Linking comic deceit to tragic hamartia is a stage further, and not one that Aristotle makes, but it seems a small step worth taking. Art and artifice 7 which we have a sneaking feeling might be inevitable and hence, perhaps, not really too threatening. The end must finish what the beginning set out to do: sometimes it does so in ways we expect, sometimes — being comedy — it may overturn our expectations.
Every beginning is a Big Bang, every end is Finis, Time, Apocalypse Now, but even the Big Bang tempts us to ask what went before, how it relates to everything else, whether it is really The Beginning, while The End always implies its own afterglow. Not wishing to overplay comic inversion, I begin with Beginnings chapter 2 and end with Endings chapter 5.
For theoretical and critical discussion of beginnings, see Nuttall on narrative literature, and Said on both literature and wider culture. On beginnings and endings in Roman comedy, the most explicitly literary reading is that of Slater a. The brief but rich discussion of beginnings and endings in Slater —7 touches on several of the same points that underpin the Plautine parts of my chs.
See also Duckworth 61—5 on Terence and Lanuvinus, —18 on Plautine prologues and exposition; Leo ; Abel ; Raffaelli b ; Anderson ; Gowers The literature on literary ending is wide, among which Kermode is crucial. In many Plautine plays, there is an intrigue which directs and constitutes the action: get money from the old man, pass off a prostitute as a matron, divert a letter which releases a girl from the pimp, persuade someone that his house is haunted, or that his eyes or ears deceive him, to give only a few examples.
That the deceits which constitute the plays come right in the end is an affirmation not only of the comic spirit but also more widely of the aesthetics of literary fiction. Chapter 4 brings together a range of types and devices of repetition, seeking to present them as having something in common with each other in the generic self-positioning of comedy.
This chapter attempts to capture a range of repeating devices used by Plautus and Terence, verbal, structural, thematic, metaphorical and intertextual. It seeks, moreover, to offer a holistic interpretation of them, by suggesting that they all partake in different ways in the same underlying phenomenon — the comedy of repetition. And to finish: chapter 5.
Here I return to the idea that edges are generically both intense and vulnerable. That would be for comedy. A commonly expressed classical non-specialist view of the Roman comic playwrights is that their plays are very similar, but that Terence is wet compared with Plautus. These two views would, of course, show some inconsistency. Art and artifice 9 pimp is invited in to dinner.
The pimp goes in to dinner with the man whose daughter he was trying to sell into prostitution.
Or so it would have us believe. One of the clever tricks comedy pulls on us is to make us believe in the party — not literally, but emotionally and metatheatrically. Comedy also offers us the seeds of endlessness, however, and here too we see the artifice of the playwright. Bergson The enormous sea of words represents possibilities of expression that can never be used. Words are gestural and have a life of their own available for comic exploitation.
Once words and actions are separated from communicable meaning, they are freed of their utilitarian taint. Charney 7 Artificiality, however, is of the essence of comic art. Not all comedy is verbal, and indeed it is a topos of critical responses to Roman comedy to insist that the original performance would have been a lot more spectacular, more impressive, more visually funny, than the dry text left to us. Perhaps it is Rud. On the other hand, in Per. Konstan 73— Beacham is a sustained effort to offer more than a textual reading of Roman comedy.
It will be argued in this book, particularly in chapter 3, that trickery is not only a crucial element in the workings of a play, but also programmatic for the nature of comedy. The rich specific vocabulary which Roman comedy employs for intrigue32 consists of words for a trick, a trickster and a big mess. None of this is surprising per se, although the employment of this register of words can work interestingly in some contexts. For example, Tyndarus in Captiui who both is and is not a slave uses and has used of him the language of comic-slave trickery to describe his exchange of identity with Philocrates.
See also Slater 3 ; Goldberg Meisel also stresses the role of words, even though much of his interest is in modern dramatic forms of much more variable media than ancient theatre. At the extreme verbal end of the reading of funniness is Chiaro on the language of jokes in popular media. Slater ch. Brotherton ; Petrone esp. Related is the important study of comic imagery by Fantham For the connection between the action of the trickster in the play and that of the celebrants of the ludi, see Chiarini , who connects the phrase ludos facere aliquem, i.
Petrone —9 also connects ludi scaenici with games of deception. Art and artifice 11 neque iam Salus seruare, si uolt, me potest, nec copia est, nisi si aliquam corde machinor astutiam. What cleverness, damn it? What should I plot? What can I invent? The capture of Troy is not normally a facinus, especially not from the point of view of the victors — but it becomes so when it is playing the role of a comic trick.
Three comic words which signify comedy with particular intensity are consilium, turbare and architectus. Plautus, typically, transfers the word from its highly respectable linguistic register into that of comedy, and gives consilium a programmatic force, signifying the cunning plan which is also the plot of the play. See Anderson ch. See esp. These words are all quoted from OLD definitions. There is a nice additional irony here: for once the audience is in a position to laugh at the scheming slave, because Chrysalus at this point does not know that Mnesilochus has gone and ruined his lovely plot!
Chrysalus uses the word again in his magnificent speech comparing the play with the story of Troy, at a crucial moment for Chrysalus as the controller, the mover and shaker, of this play ego sum Vlixes, quoiius consilio haec gerunt. See further ch. Jocelyn b and Skafte Jensen The tale goes round the houses, with first a refusal from the debtor, then a court case, then a pursuit by pirates or rather, the aggrieved debtor and his friends.
During this story, Nicobulus has been neatly trapped — by the power of plotting and storytelling.
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The next day we carry off all the gold from under their noses, openly and overtly, so that they know that it has been done. The trickster of Miles gloriosus and his team use the word consilium at almost every available opportunity. Chrysalus comments on what he is doing in manipulating his audience at Palaestrio says something similar at Mil. Clearly this playwright cannot work with noise around him, as Hofmann says apropos There is an additional joke in the gap between the programmatic comic meaning of consilium on the one hand, and the import of the word in ordinary discourse and its good pedigree in legal and political language on the other.
You all stay inside a moment, Pleusicles, and let me first reconnoitre, to make sure that no one is laying a trap for the council that we want to hold. For we now need a safe place where no enemy can make a raid on our plans. Some editions, including Lindsay, give the lines to Periplectomenus, but see e. Fantham for the attribution to Palaestrio.
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Whoever is the speaker, the lines also pick up the military and political vocabulary of — uiden hostis tibi adesse tuoque tergo opsidium? The metaphor from hot food is nicely brought out by Fantham See Fraenkel Scholars have suspected possible interpolations in this speech, as is an occupational hazard of Plautine verbal fireworks. See Zwierlein a: 78— If some of the accumulation e.
Art and artifice 15 not be an obstacle to you; for a well-planned plan is very often stolen, if the place for plotting is chosen with insufficient care and caution. Indeed, if your enemies have got to know about your plot, they fasten shut your tongue with your own plot and tie up your hands and they do to you what you wanted to do to them. On seeing that the coast is indeed clear with a wink at the audience , Palaestrio calls out his troops and makes sure that they are ready to carry through the consilium that they have planned.
Terence takes up the programmatic force of consilium with gusto. The line is quoted by Cicero N. Gowers ch. On the role specifically of cooks in the metatheatrical machinations of Plautus, see 87—93; on turbare, see 90—1. When applied to the plot, it is celebrated by the controlling characters.
Palaestrio also celebrates his comic power: Quantas res turbo, quantas moueo machinas! Epidicus, hearing in his programmatic opening scene with Thesprio that the rules of the game have changed under his feet and that he needs a new plot, exclaims eu edepol res turbulentas! And there are many more.
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