Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 461

While there are many approaches that one could take to The Brothers (Adelphoe in Latin) by Terence—as centuries of secondary literature shows—I choose to focus on the father-son relationship in my analysis of the play. I do so because I believe it is at the heart of the play and also because it is a subject that Terence has explored in four of his five other plays (the exception being The Eunuch).

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Even though only one of the two eponymous brothers is biologically a father (Demea is father to Ctesipho and Aeschinus), Demea's older son, Aeschinus, is adopted by his bachelor brother, Micio. The adoptive father-son duo of Micio and Aeschinus live in the city-state of Athens whereas the father-son duo of Demea and Ctesipho live in the Greek countryside.

The play begins, rather unusually, with a monologue. The speaker of the monologue is Micio who describes is philosophy of child-rearing while he talks about his worries about Aeschinus. We learn that Micio believes in being liberal and generous and turning a blind eye to his son's wrongdoings instead of being a harsh disciplinarian. The very next scene features his brother, Demea, whose views on fatherhood are diametrically opposed to Micio's. Demea has heard of Aeschinus' extravagances and crimes and is horrified; he makes a trip to Athens to remonstrate with his brother. Micio does not receive this well and the conversation between them is almost a debate about two different ways of raising children.

The relationships between these contrasted fathers and sons are, in both cases, brought to a head by the unfortunate love affairs of their sons. In the the case of Aeschinus, this is the rape and impregnation of the virgin Pamphila, daughter of the widow...

(The entire section contains 461 words.)

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