Topic 2: Roman Comedy, Pseudolus
Pseudolus is a play by the ancient Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus. It is an early example of Roman literature. The play is about a young man by the name of Calidorus who is in love with a prostitute by the name of Phoenicium. Phoenicium is owned by Ballio the pimp, and is one of his sex slaves. Ballio treats his slaves very badly. Phoenicium is being sold to a Macedonian soldier which obviously upsets Calidorus greatly. Calidorus seeks the help of his slave Pseudolus. Pseudolus is a cunning, intelligent and cheeky slave. Pseudolus devises an elaborate scheme to swindle Ballio out of both his money and Phoenicium. Simo who is Calidorus’s father and Pseudolus’s owner hears about the scheme and confronts Pseudolus. Pseudolus bets Simo that he can accomplish everything he has set out to do. Simo agrees not to beat him as well as to pay him if he does indeed succeed. Pseudolus carries out his plan with the help of the cunning slave Simia who impersonates Harpax, the servant of the Macedonian soldier. As each twist of fate unfolds, Pseudolus’s plan falls into place and it is a success.
This play centers around the servant Pseudolus, a Greek name which means ‘liar’. It is an apt name for him because he is a skilled liar and a master of mischief. Pseudolus is also extremely intelligent, often more so than his upper class masters Simo and Calidorus. The play Pseudolus is interesting as it depicts a slave (Pseudolus) as