Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 232

Miles Gloriosus, a Latin play by Plautus, the title of which is sometimes translated as The Braggart Soldier, The Braggart Warrior, or The Braggart Captain, is a play Plautus adapted from a Greek original that is no longer extant. The authorship of the Greek original, called Alazon (the braggart or impostor), is not known.

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The protagonist of the play, Pyrgopolinices, is a stock figure of Greek New Comedy and the Roman comedies that adapted or translated the Greek originals. This figure is normally a bully, coward, and in some ways an impostor, whose deceptions and cowardice are revealed and whose victims manage to turn the tables on him as the play ends. The play ends, as many in this genre do, with him receiving a beating at the hands of his victims. This plot line, although stereotypical, is nonetheless satisfying to audiences who enjoy seeing bullies thwarted.

Many other aspects of the play also have stock elements. The two romantic leads are the young man Pleusicles and the young woman Philocomasium, who are sweet, naive, somewhat helpless, and deeply in love. Separated by Pyrgopolinices, they are eventually reunited by the clever schemes devised by Palaestrio, the clever and faithful slave (a character type known in Latin as the servus callidus). Other stock characters in the play include a foolish slave, a miserly elderly gentleman (senex), a good courtesan, and a parasite (toady).

Places Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 232

Periplecomenus’s house

Periplecomenus’s house. Home of the old gentleman Periplecomenus in Ephesus, a Roman town in Asia Minor. The front of this house appears stage right (to the audience’s left); its front door opens onto the street, which is represented by the stage, on which all the action takes place. The stage right exit, right of the house, leads to the harbor. It is clear that the houses share a common wall through which a clever servant has made a secret opening, which is a key to the plot. The house’s roofs are also connected, since the soldier’s servant Sceledrus is able to move from one to the other while chasing a monkey.

Pyrgopolynices’ house

Pyrgopolynices’ house. Home of the braggart army captain, Pyrgopolynices, adjacent to Periplecomenus’s house. The description of this house gives much more detail on the structure of Roman houses. From the roof of Pyrgopolynices’s house, his neighbor’s servant violates his privacy by peering into his living quarters. This is possible because the roof slopes inward to an opening (impluvium) below which a courtyard or patio (atrium) is open to the sky. Here the slave observes the mistress of Pyrgopolynices kissing the houseguest of his neighbor Periplecomenus. This house is situated stage left (to the right of the audience), and the stage left exit next to it leads to the forum.

(The entire section contains 696 words.)

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