Summary

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 410

The Braggart Soldier is the story of a man who kidnaps the love of another man and is tricked into giving her up without bloodshed. It is also called Miles Gloriosus and was written by Titus Maccius Plautus.

The play opens with the introduction of the namesake: Pyrgopolynices, the braggart...

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The Braggart Soldier is the story of a man who kidnaps the love of another man and is tricked into giving her up without bloodshed. It is also called Miles Gloriosus and was written by Titus Maccius Plautus.

The play opens with the introduction of the namesake: Pyrgopolynices, the braggart himself. He is a soldier who is more than willing to brag about unimpressive accomplishments and plays up his own heroics. However, he is less grand than he would have people believe. He has a man who follows him around to bolster his self-esteem and servants who carry an oversized shield for him.

Pyrgopolynices has returned from Athens with a woman he kidnapped, Philocomasium. Even though she was in love with another man—Pleusicles—the braggart stole her and trapped her in his home in Ephesus. When Palaestrio, the servant of Pleusicles, found out about the abduction of Philocomasium, he boarded a ship to follow her to Ephesus. Unfortunately, his ship was overtaken by pirates. Fortunately, they gave Palaestrio to Pyrgopolynices, which left him in the same house as Philocomasium. They pretend to not know each other.

Palastrio writes to Pleusicles, urging him to come to Ephesus. He does and moves into the neighbor's house that connects to Pyrgopolynices's house. They cut a hole in the wall so that Philocomasium and Pleusicles can visit one another. Unfortunately, they are observed by Sceledrus, a slave of Pyrgopolynices. All the conspirators create the illusion that Philocomasium has a twin sister so that Sceledrus does not report what he saw to his master. Once he is convinced, they scheme to free Palaestrio and Philocomasium from Pyrogopolynices's house.

Ultimately, they trick Pyrgopolynices by pretending that the neighbor has a wife who is in love with him. She is actually a courtesan named Acroteleutium. Pyrgopolynices has to release Philocomasium and let her leave if he is going to be with Acroteleutium, so he lets her go. When she acts bereft, he allows her to take her jewels and Palaestrio with her back to Athens. Pleusicles arrives dressed as the captain of the ship that will take her home.

When Pyrgopolynices arrives to visit Acroteleutium at the neighbor's house, he is instead beaten by the neighbor and others. He pays them to stop. Sceledrus sees the two lovers kissing at the docks and reports it to his master, but he has promised not to take revenge on anyone and seems disinclined to try to stop them.

Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 966

Pleusicles, a young Athenian, is in love with and is loved by Philocomasium, a young woman of Athens. While he is away on public business in another city, a captain of Ephesus, Pyrgopolinices, comes to Athens and, in order to get Philocomasium into his power, works his way into the confidence of her mother. As soon as the opportunity presents itself, he abducts the daughter and carries her off to his home in Ephesus.

News of the abduction of Philocomasium soon reaches Pleusicles’ household, and Palaestrio, a faithful servant, immediately embarks for the city in which his master is staying, intending to tell him what happened. Unfortunately, however, Palaestrio’s ship is taken by pirates; he is made captive and is presented by chance to Pyrgopolinices as a gift. In the captain’s house, Palaestrio and Philocomasium recognize each other but tacitly agree to keep their acquaintance a secret.

Perceiving that the woman bears a violent hatred for Pyrgopolinices, Palaestrio privately writes to Pleusicles, suggesting that he come to Ephesus. When the young man arrives, he is hospitably entertained by Periplecomenus, an old gentleman who is a friend of Pleusicles’ father and who happens to live in a house adjoining that of Pyrgopolinices. Since Philocomasium has a private room in the captain’s house, a hole is made through the partition wall, enabling the two lovers to meet in the approving Periplecomenus’s house.

One day Sceledrus, a dull-witted servant appointed to be the keeper of Philocomasium, is chasing a monkey along the roof of the captain’s house when he happens to look through the skylight of the house next door and sees Pleusicles and Philocomasium at dalliance together. He is observed, however, and before he can report his discovery to the captain, Periplecomenus tells Palaestrio how matters stand. Palaestrio then develops an elaborate hoax to convince Sceledrus that he did not see what he thought he saw. Philocomasium is to return immediately through the hole in the wall and pretend never to have left the captain’s house. In addition, she is to make a reference at the proper time to a dream she had regarding the sudden advent in Ephesus of a pretended twin sister. This ruse is carried out before the ever more confused Sceledrus, Philocomasium first playing herself and then changing clothes, going through the hole to the other house, and playing her nonexistent twin sister. Sceledrus is slow in taking the bait, but at last he swallows it and becomes unshakably convinced that he did not see Philocomasium.

The danger of discovery temporarily averted, Palaestrio, Periplecomenus, and Pleusicles confer on how they might trick Pyrgopolinices into giving up Philocomasium and Palaestrio. The servant again formulates an elaborate ruse. Since the captain is ridiculously vain regarding his attractiveness to women as well as his pretended prowess in battle, it is decided that the plotters will use an Ephesian courtesan to undo him. Periplecomenus, a bachelor, is to hire her to pretend to be his wife but so infatuated with Pyrgopolinices that she is willing to divorce her aging husband for the captain’s favor.

This plan is executed. Acroteleutium, chosen as the courtesan and using her maid and Palaestrio as go-betweens, sends the ring of her “husband” to the captain with word of her infatuation. Pyrgopolinices is immediately aroused, but as he is discussing the situation with Palaestrio, it occurs to him that he will be compelled to get rid of Philocomasium before he can take advantage of Acroteleutium’s offer. When Palaestrio informs him that Philocomasium’s mother and twin sister just arrived in Ephesus looking for her and that the captain can easily put her out and let her return to Athens with them, Pyrgopolinices eagerly accepts the suggestion. Overwhelmed by Palaestrio’s flattery, he even agrees to let Philocomasium keep the gold and jewels he gave her.

When Pyrgopolinices goes in to tell her to leave, however, she feigns immense grief. Finally she agrees to leave quietly but only after he promises that she can take Palaestrio with her as well as the gold and jewelry. The captain, amazed at this sudden display of affection, attributes it to his irresistible masculine charm. When he returns to Palaestrio he is given to understand that Acroteleutium wants him to come to her in Periplecomenus’s house. Although he is at first reluctant to do so for fear of the old man’s wrath, he is told that Acroteleutium put out her “husband” and that the coast is clear.

At that moment Pleusicles, disguised as the master of a ship, appears and says he was sent to take Philocomasium and her effects to the ship where her mother and sister are waiting. Pyrgopolinices, overjoyed that the matter is being handled with such dispatch, sends Philocomasium and Palaestrio off as soon as he can manage it.

After their departure he hurries into Periplecomenus’s house in expectation that Acroteleutium will be waiting for him. Much to his dismay, however, Periplecomenus and his servants are waiting instead, armed with rods and whips and intent on giving Pyrgopolinices the beating that a real husband would have inflicted under such circumstances. This punishment they accomplish with great alacrity, extorting from the captain, under threat of even more dire punishment, the promise that he will never retaliate against any of the persons involved.

When they are finished, Sceledrus comes up and crowns the captain’s beating with the news that the ship’s master is Philocomasium’s lover and that he saw them kissing and embracing as soon as they were safely outside the city gate. Pyrgopolinices is overwhelmed with rage at the way he was tricked, but as Sceledrus and he enter the house the servant observes that the captain received only what he deserved.

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