Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Amphitryon, a Theban, joins the army of Thebes to fight against the Teloboans. When he leaves for the wars, his wife Alcmena, daughter of Electryon, is pregnant. Nevertheless, in the absence of Amphitryon, Jupiter falls in love with Alcmena and decides that he must enjoy her favors. Disguising himself as Amphitryon, Jupiter appears to Alcmena as her husband, just returned from a battle with the Teloboans. Alcmena is unable to recognize the impostor and welcomes Jupiter as her husband. Because Jupiter wishes to enjoy Alcmena as long as possible, he has the sun, moon, and stars remain fixed, and so the night he spends with Alcmena is long enough for her to conceive and be ready to bring forth a child by Jupiter at the same time she gives birth to the child by her husband.
In the meantime Amphitryon’s ship returns to Thebes. It is still night, so Amphitryon’s slave, Sosia, fearfully walking the streets of the sleeping town, tries to console himself with the pleasantness of the news he is bringing to its citizens. He thinks how well his master, Amphitryon, handled the war with the Teloboans, how the enemy refused to arbitrate the dispute over lands, how the battle was joined, and how Amphitryon was awarded the golden cup of Pterela as a token of the valor displayed in the battle.
While Sosia soliloquizes, Mercury, disguised as Sosia, is listening to every word. Mercury assumes the disguise to aid his father, Jupiter, in the latter’s scheme...
(The entire section is 1077 words.)
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