The Self-Tormentor Characters


Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Antiphila (an-TIH-feh-luh), the daughter of Chremes and Sostrata. Given, at birth, to a Corinthian woman, she grows up unknown to her parents. In love with Clinia, she lives with him as his wife. She becomes involved in a plot designed to assist Clitipho in his affair with the prostitute Bacchis, but he is finally persuaded to renounce his mistress. When Antiphila’s identity becomes known, she receives permission to marry Clinia.


Clinia (KLIH-nee-uh), the son of Menedemus. In love with Antiphila but fearing the disapproval of his strict father, he lives with her as her husband. When his father discovers the affair, his harshness drives Clinia to the wars, from which he returns in secret because of his longing for Antiphila. Involved in a plot to aid his friend, Clitipho, in his infatuation for Bacchis, he learns of his father’s regret over his former severity and receives Menedemus’ permission to marry Antiphila.


Menedemus (meh-nuh-DEE-muhs), Clinia’s father. Because of his unjust severity, he drives his son to the wars. Finally, seeing the error of his way, he repents of his harshness and grants permission for Clinia to marry Antiphila.


Clitipho (KLI-tih-foh), the son of Chremes and Sostrata. In love with the courtesan Bacchis, he becomes a party to a plot to deceive his father about the true state of affairs. Finally, when he is found out and threatened with disinheritance, he decides to mend his ways and marry a virtuous woman.


Chremes (KRAY-meez), an old Athenian, the father of Antiphila and Clitipho.


Sostrata (SOH-strah-tuh), his wife, the mother of Antiphila and Clitipho.


Bacchis (BA-kihs), a courtesan loved by Clitipho.


Syrus (SIH-ruhs) and


Dromo (DROH-moh), Clitipho’s servants.

The Self-Tormentor Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Brothers, A. J. “The Construction of Terence’s Heautontimorumenos.” Classical Quarterly 30, no. 1 (1980): 94-119. Proposes a solution to a major critical problem by looking at the functions of Bacchis and Antiphila in the plot. A well-reasoned essay.

Duckworth, George E., ed. The Complete Roman Drama. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1942. A classic edition. Duckworth’s general introduction remains one of the best overviews of Roman drama. The introduction to The Self-Tormentor incorporates explanations of character motivation into a detailed plot summary.

Forehand, Walter E. Terence. Boston: Twayne, 1985. One of the most readable studies of the playwright, with a systematic examination of each of his plays. Particular attention is given to the complicated plot of The Self-Tormentor and to the effective pairing of the characters. Annotated bibliography of secondary sources.

Goldberg, Sander M. Understanding Terence. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986. In the chapter “The duplex comoedia,” The Self-Tormentor is carefully analyzed. The author concludes that despite its convolutions, the play is essentially simple, designed for one purpose: that of “unmasking Chremes’ hypocrisy.” Bibliography.

Norwood, Gilbert. The Art of Terence. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1923. The opinions expressed in this work have provided the basis for almost all later criticism. Even when Norwood has been judged to be wrong, he still is given credit for originality and brilliance. Should not be overlooked by any student of classical comedy.