Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Amphitryon (am-FIHT-ree-uhn), a Theban general. Having defeated his enemies, Amphitryon is eager to return to his home and his wife. When she says that she already has seen him, he first thinks her unfaithful or mad. Confronted by a man who looks like him and insists he is indeed Amphitryon, he begins to think that he himself has lost his mind. When he breaks down the door to his house, he is insulted by Mercury, who is disguised as Sosia, then rebuked by his wife, and finally confronted with someone who looks just like him. On his way to kill everyone inside the house, Amphitryon is knocked down by one of Jupiter’s thunderbolts. Coming back to consciousness, he is assured that his wife is innocent of any wrongdoing, and he bows to the will of Jupiter.
Alcmena (alk-MEE-nuh), the faithful wife of Amphitryon, who left her pregnant when he went to war. She believes that she has spent the night with her husband, and she has the golden cup he gave her to prove it. When he turns up again, with another golden cup, she is stunned. All she can do is deny his accusations of infidelity and conclude that he is mad. Alcmena goes into labor. She invokes the gods and, with much thunder but without pain, she produces twins, one of whom jumps up and kills two snakes. Jupiter explains that he is the father of the stronger son.
(The entire section is 505 words.)
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