Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Titus Maccius Plautus: 'Miles Gloriosus' / 'Major Blowhard' (205 B.C.)

Titus Maccius Plautus (circa 254-184 B.C.): Miles Gloriosus aka Major Blowhard (205 B.C.) 

"The new plays exposed the fledgling audience of Rome to the subtleties of Hellenistic humor: intricate plots, ironic twists of fate, clever slaves, stern fathers, heartsick lovers, pompous soldiers, savvy courtesans." ~ Plautus & Terrence: Five Comedies translated by Deena Berg and Douglas Parker (1999 A.D.), page vii.

Miles Gloriosus plays out like a combination of Mission Impossible and Three's Company. There are decoy dummies, rustic ruses, two-faced trickeries and a particularly crafty courtesan diligently dodging "the Braggart" by pretending to be a pair of identical twins -- a technique still employed in modern soap operas and telenovelas.

There's also the touch of the bizarre. For example, a slave peers into a courtyard while chasing an escaped monkey and espies Philo'comasium, the courtesan paramour of Pyrgo'polynices in the arms of "Nautikles" (in the Deena Berg translation). Hint: it's chasing the monkey that makes this such a strange set-up.

A major assist against Major Blowhard is rendered unto Philo'comasium by Acro'teleutium aka "Climax." Think Bond, James Bond with the name games. In the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "they were just being playful." 

Human nature is more or less the same now as it was 2,200 years ago; only the class structure has changed. Enslaved characters would now be more likely to be represented by co-workers, friends and acquaintances. With some minor tweaking in the details of setting and technology, the plot still stands. We see Plautus' continued spectral presence every day. 

Why, a true Major Blowhard is even now running for president in one whacked-out country or another. As they said back in the day, Make Ephesus Great Again!

Today's Rune: Harvest.  


the walking man said...

Save the nation and remember the Maine.

jodi said...

Erik- I wonder if America will ever be great again. Things are not looking so good.