What is the role of slaves in The Pot of Gold by Plautus ?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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As is typical of Roman comedy, several of the major characters in The Pot of Gold by Plautus are slaves. The slaves serve many different purposes in the plot and the audience experience. Like the rustics of Shakespearean comedy, the slaves are often among the funniest characters in the play, most prone to physical comedy and slapstick, and also providing much of the singing and dancing that were part of the comic spectacle. 

Next, Strobilus plays the part of the "servus callidus", or clever slave, who is an entertaining contrast with the innocence (and slight dim-wittedness) of the young lovers. Throughout the play he schemes to buy his freedom and eventually fails, something that the Romans found funny. Another classic piece of Roman humor is the subplot of slaves trying to avoid being beaten but ending up getting the beating anyway (this is not something we now would find funny -- but the Romans did). 

Both Staphyla and Strobilus  assist the young lovers in reaching their goal of marriage.


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