The Braggart Soldier Summary
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.
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...
(The entire section is 1,376 words.)