What are the terms for the major stock characters in Roman comedy?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Roman, and especially Plautine, comedy is constructed around a set of stereotypical or stock characters. One typical character is the Senex, or Old Man, who is normally portrayed as a wealthy and powerful head of household, who is preoccupied with chasing young prostitutes and often being cheated or fooled by other characters in the play. The Senex is usually the major obstaclle with which other characters contend in obtaining their wishes inĀ  the play, and frequently gets cheated or outsmarted.

The young man or Iuvenis is the romantic lead, usually in love with someone of whom the father disapproves; he is usually neither intelligent nor courageous, and his slave or friends often are essential to his achieving his objectives.. The most entertaining character is the Servus Calidus, or clever slave, who is scheming for his freedom, and often aiding various other characters in their romantic endeavours. The Puella or Virgo is a young female usually desired by the Iuvenis and often trying to avoid the amorous advances of either the Senex or Miles (braggart soldier). The Matrona, or mother, is a force of conventional propriety, and the Leno, or pimp, is normally an avarious character thwarted by the servus.


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