Tragicomedy In Amphitryon

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Tragicomedy and Meta-theater in The Amphitryon The playwright Plautus was famous for his capability to please the Roman audience, who above all wanted to laugh and have fun at the theater, while forgetting the daily worries. Therefore, the priority for Plautus was to risum movere, to entertain the audience through either the humor of the situation or the humor of the words. The play Amphitryon is about Jupiter who is in love with Alcmene and decides to take advantage of the fact that her husband, Amphitryon, is fighting in the war between Thebes and Teleboi. Jupiter turns into Amphitryon and asks his son Mercury to help him and take the place of the servant of Amphitryon, Sosia. Alcmene welcomes Jupiter/Amphitryon and indulges in a night of love. When Jupiter leaves, the real Amphitryon and the servant Sosia come back. The game between the true and the false Amphitryon is supported by Plautus, who makes it difficult for the viewer to identify which look-alike is the true husband of Alcmene. Comedy melts with the myth of the birth of the two twins; one of them was the demigod Hercules, conceived from love between Jupiter and Alcmene and the other one between her…show more content…
This city is Thebes” (vv. 95-96). As is often the case with Roman plays, the character provides the background before the actual performance. The god addresses the audience directly, and creates the so-called meta-theater, which is created when Mercury or other actors talk about the play itself or they expound the events of the narration. Indeed, still in the prologue, Mercury creates another moment of meta-theater while announcing to transform the original tragedy into comedy: “I will change it. If you want, I’ll immediately turn this same play from a tragedy into a comedy with all the same”(vv. 54-55), therefore meaning that perhaps Plautus coined the term
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