Miles Gloriosus (Plautus)

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Miles Gloriosus (Latin for "the glorious" or "showy soldier") is the title of a farcical comedy of ancient Roman poet Titus Maccius Plautus v, about the 206th Was performed for the first time. In ancient Roman literature, there were adaptations from Greek- Hellenistic literature with regard to subjects, characters and the structure of the drama, which were by no means just translations. So also is Miles Gloriosus originally the basic figure of a lost Greek comedy with the title Ἀλαζών Alazon (German "big mouth", "show-off"). Plautus translated Alazon into Latin , simplified and expanded the piece.


Plautus adopts Greek names in his comedy:

  • Miles gloriosus: Pyrgopolinices (Greek "towers")
  • The adjutant: Artotrogus (Greek "Brockenschnapper")
  • The Guardian: Sceledrus
  • Slave: Palaestrio
  • Young woman: Philocomasium
  • Young navigator: pleusicles
  • Homeowner: Periplectomenus
  • Hetaera : acroteleutium
  • her slave: Milphidippa
  • other slaves: Lurcio, Cario

Figure types

The glorious (also: grandiose ) soldier became the original type of figure of the ridiculous, presumptuous and inflated mercenary leader ( Bramarbas ), whose negative qualities he unites: nouveau riche, violent, boastful and stupid. The comedy of the character arises from the contrast between his pomposity and his real courage. The big talk is underlined and heightened by his companion, a type of flattering parasite who maintains his boastful master in his self-confidence by confirming and praising the supposed heroic deeds in front of other people.



In the prologue , Miles Gloriosus and his servants are introduced: his adjutant , his slave and his bodyguard. The mercenary leader Pyrgopolinices , Miles Gloriosus, introduces himself in the first scene as a vain braggart who speaks of heroic deeds he never accomplished and believes that women also adore himself. The flatterer Artotrogus , his adjutant, sees through Miles, but sticks to him and repeatedly sings praises of him. Miles also characterizes his slave Palaestrio as a grand spokesman and foolish woman hero , who introduces the audience to the plot:

A young woman from Athens named Philocomasium loves a young Greek sailor ( Pleusicles ), but is extradited by her mother to the mercenary leader Pyrgopolinices . He locks her against her will in his house in Ephesus , the scene of the action. Ironically, the slave of the mercenary leader, Palaestrio , is the former slave of the very seafarer whom the young woman loves - and who is still loyal to his former master. Since he was able to tell Pleusicles the whereabouts of his lover, the young Greek travels to Ephesus and settles in Miles' house next door , which is occupied by an old family friend named Periplectomenus . The intriguing slave drills a hole in the wall of the house so that the lovers can secretly see each other without Miles knowing about it. When Miles's monkey climbs onto the roof, the girl's guardian, Sceledrus , hurries after him and sees the two lovers kissing and hugging in the neighboring house.

First intrigue

This is where the action begins. The protagonists forge a plan: on the advice of the Palaestrio , they want to convince the guard that the woman he has seen is the Philocomasium's twin sister who has just arrived in Ephesus . The slave and the homeowner confuse and frighten the guardian. They make the alleged twin sister dance in front of him ( Philocomasium plays the role of her fake sister) and claim that she is not Miles' prisoner. Thereupon the guard tries to bring her back into the house, the host of the twin sister breaks out in a rage. Finally, the guard is convinced that there are two sisters, which is why he does not tell Miles what he saw.

Second intrigue

The second part of the Miles are tricked, the beautiful wife of the neighbors, in fact, a courtesan named Acroteleutium was in love with him. The plan works, he lets the prisoner go and sneaks into the neighbour's house, where he is caught red-handed. The cook is already sharpening the knife to castrate the "adulterer", but Miles gets away with a beating and payment of a ransom. The navigator and his mistress sail to Athens, Miles remains behind as the cheated.


The plot - with a hole in the wall and the double role of a twin sister - was taken up repeatedly over the centuries, in Lodovico Dolces Il Capitano (Italy, 1560), Jean-Antoine de Baïfs Le Brave (France, 1567), Antoine Maréchal's Le Capitan Fanfaron (France, 1640), Reinhold Lenz ' The Abductions (Germany, 1772). The figure of Miles Gloriosus is preserved in other comedies, such as in Julius von Braunschweig's Vincentio Ladislao (1594) in the style of the later Lügen-Münchhausen . In Horribilicribrifax Teutsch (1664) Andreas Gryphius contrasts two talkers named Horribilicribrifax and Daradiridatumtarides . In 1597 William Shakespeare elevated the type in the person of Falstaff in the plays Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor to the great figure of the world. Later features of Miles Gloriosus entered the picaresque novel , up to The good soldier Schwejk ( Jaroslav Hašek , 1921–1923).


  • Plautus: Miles gloriosus. The glorious captain. Latin / German . Reclam, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-15-008031-2 .
  • Julius Leopold Klein : History of the Drama II. The Greek Comedy and the Drama of the Romans . TO Weigel, Leipzig 1865 ( full text online ).
  • Isolde Stark : The malicious muse. Mockery as social and mental control in Greek comedy . CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-52347-1 (Zetemata, monographs on classical antiquity, issue 121).

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