Erin K. Moodie presents a rigorous yet accessible guide to Plautus’ satirical play Poenulus for use in the contemporary classroom. Likely written and staged in the years following the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage, Poenulus tells the tale of a young Carthaginian,
the adopted son and heir of the man who purchased him as a slave when he was a child, who is in love with a female Carthaginian slave and prostitute. The comedy, especially Plautus’ portrayal of his main character, compels the reader to consider Rome’s relationship with Carthage, its former enemy; Plautus’ role in choosing and adapting plays for the Roman stage; and the constraints of the palliata genre.
A detailed introduction, map, and comprehensive notes approach the text from several angles, enabling the advanced undergraduate or graduate student to grapple directly with the issues the Poenulus raises. The Latin text is based primarily on that of Friedrich Leo, while Moodie’s introduction and commentary provide assistance with early Latin grammar and syntax, Plautine meter, Roman history, and the influences on and performance contexts of Roman comedy. The commentary also introduces students to modern scholarship on the genre, including metatheatrical interpretations and performance criticism.
“A comprehensive, user-friendly tool for students of Plautus and ancient comedy . . . almost everything that a student could ask seems to have been anticipated by the author.”
—Radd Ehrman, Kent State University