Monday, April 8, 2019
The Role of Slavery in Roman Comedy Essay Example for Free
The Role of Slavery in Roman Comedy EssayA Greek comedic playwright named Menander wrote a play with the same title. Since Menanders sport is lost, historians arent sure how original Terences version is. We can suspect that at least virtually of Terences version is merely a translation or a very slightly alter form of Menanders. One of the most recurring themes in Greek and Roman Theater is that of the master and the slave. virtually every play by Plautus contained the cunning slave who outwitted or ridiculed his masters action. George Duckworth expound this relationship saying, It is hardly possible that in real life ancient slaves had as much exemption as the slaves of Roman comedy, nor could they ready been as outspoken and as impudent, (Duckworth 288). Themes such as this sought to decrease the harsh reality of slavery and racism through comedy. Because Plutarch and Terence depicted slaves more as free work force than as prisoners, their comedies fought the traditiona l ideas of slavery and discrimination. Before discussing slavery in Roman plays, it is important to know the customs duty of the Roman Theater.All Roman citizens attended the theater for free, because either the city funded the play, or a wealthy, person citizen paid for the production. These individuals might be running for an upcoming election, so they provided entertainment to the Roman people to get into favor with them. The better the play, the better their reputation would be. In general, the Romans of the time, combat and bloodshed were of the utmost desires for entertainment. The more virtual(prenominal) and gruesome the event, the more they enjoyed themselves.At the time, women were non allowed to have roles in the theater, and in the beginning stages of Roman Theater, women could non even attend the productions. Young boys played the female roles instead. scarcely most interestingly, slaves usually made up the entire cast of a Roman production. There are twenty surv iving plays written by Plautus. The first instance of a slave acting out of theatrical role is in the play Captivi. In this play, Philopolemus, an Aetolian is captured and sold into slavery under an Elean doctor.His start, Hegio proceeds to buy many Elean slaves to trade for his son. He ends up buying a well-known Elean named Philocrates, who is accompanied by his own slave, Tyndarus. Hegio plans to send the master back to Elis to facilitate the trade. But Tyndarus and Philocrates switched identities, which would have caused the deal to fall through. Hegio is infuriated, and orders Tyndarus to the quarries. David Konstan explains the theme of this play as, the conflict between a stern, conventional father and a son driven to defiance by the irresistible force of erotic passion.A parking area figure in these plays is the household slave, who risks the displeasure of his senior masterin order to advance the amatory interests of the junior, (Konstan 59). Instead of the general stor yline, Philocrates is the senior master because he is the original owner of Tyndarus. Hegio is the junior master because he has only recently obtained Tyndarus. Hegio still holds all power over Tyndarus, though, and this act of defiance would normally be penalise with death for the perpetrator. Instead, Hegio is convinced by Tyndarus that his actions were purely out of loyalty, and not to offend Hegio.Hegio respects this and decides to let him live. Another famous play by Plautus that contains the role of the cunning slave who is not punished justly is Rudens. Gripus, the slave of a poor man that lives on the coast comes across a nurse chest while fishing, and dreams of what he get out do with his spoils, explaining that he will buy his freedom and sprain a tyrant with his immense wealth. Another slave, Trachalio comes along, though, and claims that if Gripus doesnt split the treasure with him, hence he will report Gripus to the original owner of the treasure.Gripus argues that the treasure is his because the sea belongs to no one, and consequently that which is recovered from the sea belongs to the finder. Trachalio suggests they strengthen the argument by talking to Gripus owner Daemones. Daemones sides with Trachalio, who emergencyed the treasure not for himself, only when for the original owner, Palaestra. Daemones then chides Gripus for his selfishness, Daemones angrily sends him into the house and complains about the poor quality of slaves luckily, he reflects, Gripus didnt meet another akin himself, or both would have been implicated in the crime, (Konstan 84).Trachalio is the cunning slave in this example, and he, like Tyndarus, is not motivated by selfish reasons, entirely by doing what is right. This is the reason why the cunning slave is storeyed in Roman Theater. Duckworth describes the attitude of this slave as, the freedom and insolence of the humorous slaves, their immunity from serious punishment, their happy-go-luck foundationcomb ine to paint a picture of slave life that bears little relation to reality, (Duckworth 290). In his leaven entitle Comic Shackles, Ulrike Roth elaborates on this point saying, But Getas concern is not recount for the employment of chained labour on the land.Both Plautus and Terence, then, do not employ the movie of the chained slave for work on the land of Roman slave owners, (Roth). The slaves dont real suffer any torture throughout the course of the productions. In reality, the Roman master surely would have punished his slave for even the most minor mistakes, just to keep his reputation as a man in power. Duckworth says that, however much the slaves of comedy refer to whips and chains, to the mill and the quarry and the cross, they seldom meet them in the plays.The frequent use by slaves of epithets like mastigia, furcifer, uerbero, verbereum caput, as terms of banter or abhorrence does not mean that the slaves are necessarily referring to punishments which they or their fe llow-slaves have themselves undergone, (Duckworth 290). Plautus and Terence do not want to show the truth about slavery of the time in their productions. This may be so that they didnt insult anyone by generalizing what most Romans did. If a play was poorly received, then the citizen who invested in the production would belike destroy the name of the playwright.Duckworth explains that, when the intrigue is directed against a pompous soldier or a rascally leno, the slaves machinations have the approval of the other characters and the sympathy of the spectators. Such trickery is successful and on that point is no question of punishment, (Duckworth 288). When the auditory sense is on the side of the trickster, there is no need for punishment in the look of the audience. This technique is essential in Roman theater. It makes the slave, a degenerate type in the eyes of most Romans, the hero of the play an integral part in the outcome of the story. Just like in Miles Gloriosus.Plautu s writes about the character of Palaestrio as another example of this motif. He plots and schemes against his new master Pyrgopolynices in order to return the kidnapped Philocomasium to his former master, Pleusicles. Pleusicles hides with an old man next door after receiving a garner from Palaestrio about their location. Palaestrio crafts an opening in the wall so that the girl can visit her true come behind the soldiers back. The plan almost fails when another slave sees the girl with another man, but through his craftiness Palaestrio manages to convince him it was the girls visiting twin sister.He then enlists the armed service of a courtesan to stand in for the neighbours wife and seduces the soldier so he will set the girl free. The ruse is successful, and Palaestrio escapes with his old master and the girl. The freedom that Palaestrio has in this play is something to be desired by all slaves. The fact that he could find paper to write a garner to his master in secret and th at he could even write at all is hard to say of a slave during this time period. But his defiance of the unjust soldier Pyrgopolynices is admired by the audience because he is one of the main characters.This depiction of the life of a slave is not one of reality, but it does make for good entertainment. The pardoning of slaves and the cunning slave are two important motifs in Roman theater. Duckworth states, tempestuous threatsare not to be taken seriously. They are more useful in portraying the comic aspects of a young mans impatience or an old mans fretfulness than in throwing light upon the relation of master and slave in antiquity, (Duckworth 289). The slave is usually meant to be a beloved character that either encourages the main character to do what is right or is the main character himself.