Play of "Character"
THE BRAGGART WARRIOR (Miles Gloriosus)
- A crude farce
based on the character of a braggart soldier
written by T. Maccius Plautus
. The two parts of the double plot
are poorly connected. The play has been extraordinarily influential
, and Holberg
Miles Gloriosus is a typical Plautine comedy
: a young lover trying to be with the courtesan
he loves, and a tricky slave
who will arrange the union. The antagonist
, a braggart warrior named Pyrgopolynices
, is another stock character
, and gives the play its title
, the tricky slave, manages to convince Pyrgopolynices to send the courtesan away by explaining that there is another woman
who desires him even more. Palaestrio's little ruse
works, leaving the audience with the desired happy ending
Miles Gloriosus presents some interesting
angles on areas of Roman society
. Courtesans, or kept women, appear in this play as objects to be possessed
, rather than our notions of prostitutes
(the courtesan) stays with Prygopolynices until he dismisses her, although he did not purchase
her for a sum of money
(he instead talked with her mother
" her to let him take the girl
) so he apparently does not own her. In the context
of the play, Palaestrio arranges her "dismissal" so that she is allowed to keep the clothing
, etc. which she received from Pyrgopolynices while she was staying with him. Thus, one could argue
that she remained with him for financial reasons
. However, given her profession
it is hardly unlikely that she would be unable to find another man
to support her in a similar fashion.
raised in Miles Gloriosus is that of marriage
, an old man who helps Pleusicles win back Philocomasium, spends an entire scene debating
the merits of marriage versus bachelorhood
. He complains that women spend too much money, that he does not need children
because he has relatives
. Perhaps Plautus
is just pulling this out for some cheap jokes
about the stereotypical spending habits of women
, but this line of reasoning runs against the family bonds
exhibited in Captivi
. In a patriarchial society
such as Rome
, where the pater familias
literally had the power of life and death
over his family, one may see Periplectomenus's rantings simply as a counterpoint
to Pleusicles constant statements of love and devotion
(although the play never mentions that they will get married and have children). This contrast
suggests to the audience that the best way to conduct one's personal affairs is not by falling in love
with courtesans, nor by remaining a bachelor
, but by getting married to a respectable woman
and having children.
It is a great plague to be too handsome a man.
Nimia est miseria nimis pulchrum esse hominem.
- Miles Gloriosus (I, 1, 68)
Know not what you know, and see not what you see.
Etiam illud quod scies nesciveris;
Ne videris quod videris.
- Miles Gloriosus (II, 6, 89)
No man is wise enough by himself.
Nemo solus satis sapit.
- Miles Gloriosus (III, 3, 12)
No one can be so welcome a guest that he will not become an annoyance when he has stayed three continuous days in a friend's house.
Hospes nullus tam in amici hospitium diverti potest,
Quin ubi triduum continuum fuerit jam odiosus siet.
- Miles Gloriosus (III, 3, 12)