Customs, places and 'gentes' in Plautus.

Title: Customs, places and 'gentes' in Plautus.
Authors: Levis, Richard.
Date: 1998
Abstract: This dissertation examines the cultural constructs that are the basic elements of the comedies of Plautus. To achieve this goal the study has been divided into four chapters: Language, Customs, Places and 'Gentes'. Chapter One, Language, analyzes how the Latin language influences the way in which the characters express the various aspects of their world. Chapter Two, Customs, considers the expression of the affairs of daily life that are of common interest to the characters on stage. This chapter evaluates a cross-section of the activities that the characters describe, such as their reference to public offices and civic duties, the details of their religious practices, their dealings with wealth and money, as well as their references to travel, education and slave duties. Chapter Three, Places, looks at the wide variety of places that construct the world of Plautus' characters. This chapter is divided into three parts: the city sites, the dramatic settings, and the distant countries and cities of the world. Chapter Four, 'Gentes', examines the manner in which Plautus ascribes his characters and the people of the world into particular groups and what variation and importance there are in these attributes and specifications. The comedies of Plautus are filled with descriptions of cultural details that are evidence for some of the ways in which Latin-speaking peoples of the Middle Republican period conceptualized the world. The cultural resonance of the Latin language influences how the characters express important elements of their stage world. This influence is especially acute in the moral and familial terms that the characters use, but it filters through as well into the political world of the comic stage and other customs that are a part of the characters' interactions. Furthermore, the places that the characters of the comic stage describe maintain certain consistent associations which allows for an easy identification from play to play as well as an easy transition from the stage to the places with which the audience was familiar. Finally, Plautus draws upon a fairly narrow band of ethnic characterizations which he applies to the gentes who populate his plays. Many of these attributes follow the themes of comedy itself. Otherwise, the designation of origin is an important attribute that is tied to a character's social status and birthright as a free citizen. Plautus' characters are citizens from all over the Mediterranean world and this fact plays an important role in the development of the plots of the plays and in most of their resolutions.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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