- 西洋古典論集 (ISSN:02897113)
- vol.22, pp.216-248, 2010-03-28
In Plautus' Bacchides we have in Chrysalus a typical cunning slave whose trickery, more than anything else, moves the play forward. The protagonist, however, leaves the stage just before the final act without celebrating his triumph. Stage action is taken over by the Bacchis sisters seducing a pair of old men and inviting them into their house, as if to reflect the change of the title from Menander's Dis Exapaton. No triumph, Chrysalus says to the spectators, because it is all too common (1073). Does this allude to real-life triumphs (thus Ritschl, Barsby), or to a stage convention (Fraenkel, Slater)? This paper attempts to see in the play a metatheatrical reference to the role of servus callidus and, from this point of view, compares the tricks used by Chrysalus and the Bacchis sisters. Points of comparison: (1) money is gained and wasted; (2) deceptions are based on suggesting the opposite of what one's goal is; (3) victims are enslaved and deemed worthless; (4) use of slave 's services. (1): the names of Chrysalus and Bacchis are in a meaningful juxtaposition(240-42, 703-05; 53, 372-73): while Chrysalus is interested in swindling people out of their money (218-21, 229-33, 640-50), the Bacchis sisters focus on luring them into their house to make them incur losses (62-72, 85-86). (2): comparison of 90-91 and 94-100 (Bacchis – Pistoclerus), 988-1043 (Chrysalus – Nicobulus), and 1173-74 with 1184-85 (Bacchis – Nicobulus), shows that similar psychological tactics may be seen at work. (3): finding it difficult to resist Bacchis' charm, Pistoclerus wonders if he is worth nothing (nihili 91) and, once seduced, tells her 'tibi me emancupo' (92). The term comptionalis senex, used of Nicobulus swindled out of his money (976), evidently emphasizes his worthless state. The old men who are victimized like sheep well shorn (1122-28), as predicted by Chrysalus (241-42), have lost all their value (exsoluere quanti fuere 1135). When charmed by Bacchis minor, Philoxenus too admits that he is worthless (nihili 1157) and the same is confirmed by Nicobulus as well (1162). At the end, Nicobulus says to Bacchides 'ducite nos tamquam addictos' (1205). Note also grex explicitly stating that the old men have been worthless (nihili 1207) since their youth, and Chrysalus calling Cleomachus worthless (nihili homo 904) once the deal has been done. (4): while Chrysalus envisions selling Nicobulus as a slave once he gets his job done (814-15, 976-77), the Bacchis sisters seem to keep their slaves in service. Pistoclerus, a typical adolenscens, weak and wavering at the start, seems to change his role and begins to act as if he were a cunning slave (to a lesser degree than Chrysalus), making smart replies to Lydus (e.g. 125-29, 161-62), bragging about his success as if he assumed the persona of Pellio acting the role of Epidicus(206-15), and driving back the parasite sent from Cleomachus (573-611). Since addicti (1205) are to serve as slaves until they have repaid their debt, the old men are supposed to do some menial work in the sisters' house. Conclusion: Chrysalus, an expert in eliciting money from people, has no further business with his victims who are, in his view, worthless. So, once his mission is complete, he just exits with all the booty to the quaestor (1075). The Bacchis sisters seem to use "the worthless'' to create stage action. In the final act, the moment the old sheep are said to be not just shorn but mute (1138-39) and the sisters are about to exit, Nicobulus begins to speak (1140), much to everyone's surprise (prodigium 1141). It is as if a mute character who is supposed just to stand by (astent 1134) speaks out and thus opens up a new strand of action. The paradox noted here, creation from nothing, recalls Pseudolus 395-405 and sounds significant for the whole play; from the grex we hear that were it not for such useless old men, they would not even be able to put on this drama (1207-10).