What is Plautus's Rope about?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This is a great question. I am surprised that a high school student is asking about this. 

Here is a brief summary of the main action. Palaestra, a pious freeborn woman, is enslaved unjustly and shipwrecked.  She states that she would not lament her misfortunes, if she had done anything impious towards her parents or the gods, but as it stands she cannot explain her misfortune. She goes even as far as to say that she would not complain about her misfortune, if she were punished for the wickedness of her parents.

Palaestra’s point is clear; ethically speaking, she is stating her innocence, and more importantly in her worldview, the way a person lives is tied to divine favor or disfavor. As the play develops, Palaestra’s worldview is vindicated as she finds herself at the temple of Venus entreating the goddess for relief.

Eventually, her prayers are answered with comic irony. Through this shipwreck she happens to be under the auspices of her father, Daemones, who later discovers that Palestra is his long lost daughter.

In addition, in the closing scenes of the play, instead of being prostituted out, she is set to marry Plesidippus, a young gentleman from one of the best families in Athens, who also happens to be related to Daemones.The ending could not be better. From this perspective, the whole thrust of the play may be seen as the unfolding of Arcturus’ prologue, that the gods notice the lives of pious people and punish immoral ones.


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