The Arbitration Characters


Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Pamphila (PAM-fih-luh), Smicrines’ daughter. She is ravished by an unknown, drunken young man who leaves his signet ring at the scene. She later marries her ravisher, Charisius, and bears his child. The baby is left exposed in the hills, along with the signet ring. The baby, found by peasants, is identified by the ring and returned to its rightful parents.


Charisius (kay-RIH-see-uhs), an upright young Athenian. During a drunken revel, he ravishes Pamphila, whom he later marries without remembering her as his victim. Disavowing the child he learned was born to his wife during his absence, he leaves home and spends his substance on the slave girl, Habrotonon. He is reunited with his wife after Habrotonon identifies Pamphila as his companion at the revel of a year before.


Smicrines (SMIH-krih-neez), Pamphila’s father.


Habrotonon (ha-BROH-teh-non), a pretty slave woman who turns out to be Smicrines’ long-lost daughter. As companion of Charisius after he learns that his wife has born a child whom he disclaims, she brings about the reunion of the husband and wife by identifying Pamphila as Charisius’ victim on the night of the revel. She marries Chaerestratus.


Onesimus (oh-NEH-sih-muhs), Charisius’ slave.


Chaerestratus (kee-REHS-treh-tuhs), Charisius’ friend, who marries Habrotonon.


Sophrona (SOH-freh-nuh), Pamphila’s nurse.


Davus (DA-vuhs), a goatherd who discovers Pamphila’s baby in the hills.


Syriscus (sih-RIHS-kuhs), a charcoal burner who adopts Pamphila’s baby.


Carion (KAY-ree-uhn), a vain, prying cook.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Arnott, W. Geoffrey. Menander, Plautus, Terence. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1975. Chapter on Menander discusses techniques in The Arbitration and other plays, placing the dramatist in the historical context of Greek dramatic art. Remarks on his use of traditional methods of dramaturgy to achieve comic effects.

Goldberg, Sander. The Making of Menander’s Comedy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Comprehensive study of the dramatist’s works. A chapter on The Arbitration provides careful explication of the plot and highlights Menander’s various dramatic techniques.

Gomme, A. W., and F. H. Sandbach. Menander: A Commentary. London: Oxford University Press, 1973. Extensive, detailed, scholarly notes elucidating characters and scenes in The Arbitration and other plays. Comments on textual problems and highlights structural techniques used by the playwright.

Hunter, R. L. The New Comedy of Greece and Rome. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Uses The Arbitration as a principal example to illustrate techniques used by Menander and his contemporaries when they created their plots, analyzed relationships between the sexes, interjected philosophical issues into their plays, and used earlier works as sources for their dramas.

Webster, T. B. L. Studies in Menander. 2d ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1960. Extensive commentary on the various extant fragments of the original play. Remarks on the insights this work provides into the playwright’s chief concerns as a comic dramatist.