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The third deception in 'Bacchides': 'fides' and Plautus' originality.

Chrysalus is one of Plautus' most clever slaves. In the course of Bacchides he deceives his master three times. But the model for Bacchides was Menander's Dis Exapaton, "The Man Deceiving Twice," whose title implies only two deceptions. This difference in arithmetic was the seed of a scholarly controversy which germinated in 1912 with the publication of Eduard Fraenkel's dissertation, De Media et Nova Comoedia Quaestiones Selectae. Fraenkel suggested that Plautus added the final deception in Bacchides through the process of contaminatio, using another, unidentified Attic comedy for his model. The response to this hypothesis was mixed; eventually Fraenkel himself abandoned it in response to the critique of Gordon Williams.(1) Nonetheless, the notion that the third deception is a Plautine addition, if not an example of contaminatio, has persisted, most recently in the work of Eckard Lefevre and Adolf Primmer.(2)

Fraenkel's original hypothesis, its reception by Williams and other critics, and the recent work of Lefevre and Primmer belong to the tradition of Plautine source criticism, or Quellenforschung, which seeks to analyze the text into those parts which are Roman, created by Plautus himself, and those parts which are Greek, adapted by Plautus from his models, which themselves are largely lost to posterity. In the effort to sort out the Roman from the Greek, the text of Plautus has been minutely analyzed in all of its poetic, dramatic, and cultural aspects. But since, apart from fragments, the texts of Plautus' models are lost to us, such Quellenforschung is a kind of philological shadowboxing in which the text of Plautus is matched against the text of a play which no longer exists. Small wonder that consensus is often difficult to achieve on the questions traditional Plautine source criticism addresses.

The present essay takes a different approach to the problem of the third deception (a difference which may not at first be apparent, when I conduct a necessary review of Fraenkel's original hypothesis and Williams's critique),(3) through a close reading of Bacchides as a dramatic unity. I argue that the play is about trust and deception, a thematic antithesis which Plautus has characterized in ethnic terms: on the one hand, trust is romanized as fides; on the other, deceptionis characterized as Greek. This is relevant to the third deception because the ethical expectations of fides help shape the action and the behavior of the characters at several key points. Plautus' nominally Greek characters at times seem rather Roman in their attitude towards fides. I suggest that the third deception works only because the senex Nicobulus, like a good Roman, has regard for fides. This may not prove that the third deception is Plautine in origin; the theme of "trustworthiness" could have been present in Menander's play, now garbed by Plautus in Roman dress as fides to appeal to the sensibilities and ethical preoccupations of his audience. However, I show that where a direct comparison between Dis Exapaton and Bacchides is possible, it is clear that Plautus has introduced fides independently of his model. This suggests that fides is not merely the Romanization of a theme already present in Dis Exapaton. Ultimately I suggest that the characterization of fides as Roman and deception as Greek may be understood in the broader context of Plautus' society and its encounter with Greek culture. Bacchides enables us to see this Roman bias function in the context of an organic and unified work of literature. While we must be careful not to confuse Roman comedy with the Roman social reality, Bacchides both permits us to examine the tensions within the antithesis and helps reveal some of the complexity of the Roman response to Hellenism.


Before reviewing Fraenkel's contaminatio theory and Williams's critique, it is useful to review the three deceptions in Bacchides. The first deception is a straightforward lie. Before the action of the play begins, Nicobulus has sent his slave, Chrysalus, and his son, Mnesilochus, to Ephesus so they may collect money deposited with a guest-friend. However, the two have decided to keep the money for themselves, to help further the young man's romance with a courtesan, Bacchis of Samos. Chrysalus cobbles together a tall tale in which a treacherous guest-friend, pirates, and a narrow escape have forced him and Mnesilochus to leave the money behind in Ephesus. But this deception is as easily undone as it had been accomplished. Back in Athens, Mnesilochus wrongly suspects his friend Pistoclerus of having stolen Bacchis from him. In fact, Pistoclerus has fallen in love with Bacchis' twin, Bacchis of Athens. At any rate, in his distress Mnesilochus tells his father the truth and returns the money. But Mnesilochus soon learns that his friends are true and that his intemperate honesty has created the need for a second deception. Chrysalus has Mnesilochus compose a letter to his father, warning him that Chrysalus is planning to deceive him again and that Nicobulus ought to keep the slave under guard. As the old man has Chrysalus bound up, the slave adroitly seizes an opportunity to impose Bacchis of Samos on Nicobulus as the wife of Cleomachus, an outraged and bloodthirsty soldier, who is now on the verge of catching his "wife" and Mnesilochus in flagrante, but who may, nonetheless, be mollified by an appropriate cash payment. Mnesilochus appears to have his Bacchis, but Chrysalus deems that some extra money is necessary, so that the victorious troops may have proper drink to celebrate their triumph (972-[72.sup.a]). Thus we have a third deception in Bacchides: Chrysalus has Mnesilochus write a second letter in which he confesses to his father that he has promised to pay Bacchis of Samos, who Nicobulus still thinks is the soldier's wife, 200 gold philips; unless Nicobulus pays this amount, Mnesilochus will have perjured himself. So that his son may avoid that shame, Nicobulus pays up again.

Fraenkel's hypothesis that the third deception in Bacchides was not in Menander's Dis Exapaton was based on both the title of Menander's play and Chrysalus' reference in the great canticum to the legendary tria fata auguring the fall of Troy.(4) Chrysalus draws an explicit connection between these tria fata and the three deceptions he has contrived against his master (953-56). The passage is generally recognized to be Plautine in origin. Fraenkel also suggests that the third deception is a case of contaminatio; it was derived from another, unidentified Greek play. Like the second deception, this deception too was based on a letter. For Fraenkel (Quaestiones 102-3) its polished style suggested Attic origins.

Even skillful surgeons leave a scar. Plautus' insertion of material from another play into his adaptation of Dis Exapaton created some confusion for the action of Bacchides. Fraenkel discerned the Plautine suture marks at 920-24, that is, immediately before the canticum. Nicobulus has already promised to pay 200 gold philips to the soldier; however, before he fulfills his promise Plautus has him indulge renewed suspicion about his slave. He resolves first to speak again with his son before paying the money (920-22), but suddenly changes his mind and decides to reread his son's letter: uerum lubet etiam mi has perlegere denuo; / aequomst tabellis consignatis credere (923-24). These last two lines give no indication of Nicobulus' subsequent movements.(5) This vagueness would have been unlikely in Plautus' model, for Greek New Comedy was generally careful in accounting for the exits and entrances and the movements of characters on and off stage. As is frequent in Plautine Quellenforschung, the Roman dramatist is faulted for his failure to meet the aesthetic standards of his Greek model. For Fraenkel the perceived ineptness of 923-24 was partial proof of their Plautinity. Fraenkel implies that in Menander's play the old man would have gone somewhere where he would learn the truth: perhaps to see his son at the courtesans' house, an intention suggested by 920-22; or perhaps to the forum to pay the soldier, from whom he would learn all, which of course is what eventually happened in Bacchides. At any rate, Plautus defers the moment when Nicobulus learns what is going on, and creates a space in which the third deception may unfold.(6)

Williams raised three objections which persuaded Fraenkel to abandon this hypothesis. First, the evident tampering at 923-24 may be attributed to the need to create dramatic space for the canticum at 925-78, not an additional deception. In Dis Exapaton there would have been no such canticum.(7) Second, to square his view that there were three deceptions in the Greek play with Menander's title implying only two, Williams develops a suggestion of Ritschl's that the title simply ignores the first, frustrated deception;(8) thus there were three deceptions in Dis Exapaton, but the title refers only to the second and third, the two accomplished by letter.(9) Third, Williams argues that it was improbable that Plautus found an episode in another Greek play whose many details readily fit the action of Bacchides. This final objection was perhps the most persuasive for Fraenkel, who resisted the idea that Plautus could create dramatic action without relying on a model.(10)

It is worth examining Williams's arguments in some detail.(11) The first point, that lines 923-24 may be adequately motivated by Plautus' insertion of the canticum which follows, cannot be resolved. The canticum and the third deception are so closely connected that it is difficult to know whether the obscurity raised by 923-24 creates dramatic space for the canticum alone or both the canticum and the deception it introduces. Williams's apparently simpler solution is not necessarily the correct one. Second, in his effort to discount the first deception Williams argues that only a moralist interested in the process of deception itself would have counted three deceptions in Menander's play. In his view only the actual extraction of the money would have mattered to Menander's audience--the proof of the perjury was in the payment. Thus when Mnesilochus returned the money to his father, the first deception was no longer a deception. Hence Williams argues ("Construction of Pseudolus" 453-54) that only a moralist would have been tempted to call Menander's play Tris Exapaton. This is surely special pleading. In the first deception Chrysalus successfully deceived his master because Nicobulus believed his lie. That deceit occurs when a lie is believed is not a view peculiar to moralists. But if we wish to accept Williams's argument to the contrary, we should remember that the money acquired through the third deception is also returned (cf. 1184). In that case we should have expected Menander to have called his play Hapax Exapaton.

Williams also objects that Fraenkel's theory of contaminatio asks us to accept the improbable idea that Plautus had at his disposal another Greek play containing an episode neatly fitting the details of Bacchides and ready to be grafted onto the main plot. This was a serious objection for Fraenkel, in whose view Plautus did not compose dramatic action which furthered the plot independently of a Greek model. But it is not a serious objection for us. Recent scholarship in the tradition of Plautine Quellenforschung has established a more generous appreciation of Plautine originality, one that acknowledges the Roman dramatist's ability to compose original dramatic action.(12) In particular, Primmer, in his reconstruction of Dis Exapaton from close analysis of Bacchides, argues that the third deception is Plautine, on the basis of the probable structure of Menander's play.(13)

The argument advanced here for the Plautinity of the third deception differs from that of Primmer and others writing in the tradition of Plautine source criticism in that it emphasizes the dependence of the third deception on the main dramatic idea of the play, the antithesis between Roman fides and Greek deception, a theme which is Plautine in origin. The third deception works only because Nicobulus, like a good Roman, has regard for fides. The antithesis between the Roman ethic and its Greek opposite accommodated Bacchides to the biases of its original audience and provides us with some of the social logic behind Plautus' alteration of his Greek original.


Before discussing the importance of fides in Bacchides, it is useful to review the importance of the ethic in the lives of the play's audience.(14) Plautus' audience would have recognized an important aspect of fides in the "reliability" or "trustworthiness" of the individual. This aspect of fides was concerned with the honoring of contracts and obligations of all sorts, personal, political, and commercial. Here fides worked as a social ethic, regulating the various ties which bound society together. This concern with social ethics is related closely to another aspect of fides concerned with personal morality. For the audience of Bacchides, as much as for its characters, fides was the guarantor of oaths and solemn promises such as stipulatio. To break one's word was an offense against fides. The ethic was associated with a particular pair of reciprocal promises: first, the promise of protection made by the strong to the weak; then, the promise of loyalty and subservience made by the weak in return for the protection the strong afford. In this regard Romans closely associated fides with the distrbution of power and the social order.

This last aspect would have addressed the concerns of the aristocrates in the audience. The reciprocity of fides moderated the relationship between people of unequal rank, such as master and slave or patron and client. Thus while fides provided for some measure of protection for the weaker, it also recognized and legitimated the privileges of the stronger. For the aristocrats in the audience, in whom the personal and the political were inextricably bound, fides pertained to political as much as to personal conduct. The aristocrat's desire to maintain his fides was motivated not just by a concern for ethics and consideration for the weak. One's reputation for fides was also an index of one's power. The patron who failed to protect his client suffered injury not only to his ethical reputation but also to the public perception of his power--hence the practice in Roman politics of attacking a man through his clients. Correspondingly, the act of affirming one's fides could serve as a demonstration of one's power as much as it could serve as proof of ethical probity.

Finally, many in the audience, some more than others, were aware that the Romans had exported fides, the domestic ethic which regulated unequal relationships within Roman society, and used it as a principle in Rome's dealings with subordinate foreign powers. Foreign states which submitted themselves to the will of Rome and expected protection in return were said to be in the fides of the Roman people. The Romans themselves advertised their fides to other states as a guarantee of Roman reliability and fairness, but also as a reminder of Roman power.(15) This principle of conduct had been given concrete expression in the temple to the goddess Fides on the Capitoline, which was constructed in the 250s and served for the reception of foreign embassies.

Thus, in the ideal if not the reality, fides was an ethic that played a role in almost every aspect of a Roman's life, both public and private. Plautus' audience were both well prepared to recognize situations in Bacchides where fides was at issue and well conditioned to judge a character's moral worth in relation to his fides. Such a situation occurs at 526-62, a point when Mnesilochus has already undone Chrysalus' first deception, told his father the truth, and returned the money. He now confronts his friend Pistoclerus, who, Mnesilochus erroneously thinks, has betrayed him by falling in love with his girlfriend. We are fortunate that discovery of a papyrus from Oxyrhynchus containing fragments of Dis Exapaton permits us to compare this episode from Bacchides directly with its model.(16) In the corresponding passage of Dis Exapaton the young lover, named Sostratos, soliloquizes on the relative guilt of his girlfriend, Bacchis, and his friend, whom Menander called Moschos. Direct comparison shows clearly how Plautus has reformulated the ethical aspect of the action, which in Menander turns on a notion of dike, into terms of the Roman concept of obligation, fides.

In Menander the first part of 108-10, in which Sostratos tells Moschos of his grievance, is badly mutilated, but in light of Moschos' response in 111 the essence of Sostratos' charge appears distilled in the word edikekas (110): Moschos has committed an injustice.(17) From this passage and Sostratos' soliloquy, where he notes the adikema (101) committed against him, it is clear that Menander has dramatized the situation in terms of justice, dike. Moreover, Sostratos charges Bacchis with the chief responsibility for the adikema. Moschos, to whom he has given a sensitive trust involving the young woman, is not as harshly judged (100-102). In Plautus, Mnesilochus' judgment on Pistoclerus is not as forgiving.

In Menander, directness and economy characterize the exchange between Sostratos and Moschos. On the other hand, Plautus draws out this scene by having Mnesilochus baffle Pistoclerus, his imagined betrayer. Mnesilochus is wearing a long face and leaves it to Pistoclerus to discover what is wrong. Pistoclerus asks a series of questions and from the other's answers learns that a false friend, yet unnamed, has wronged Mnesilochus. In response to this partial revelation Pistoclerus inveighs against such false friends, ignorant that it is he himself who stands accused:

multi more isto atque exemplo uiuont, quos quom censeas

esse amicos, reperiuntur falsi falsimoniis,

lingua factiosi, inertes opera, sublesta fide.

There are many men like that. You think they're your friends,

they turn out to be perfidious perjurers,

all talk, no show; fides means nothing to them.

Lines 540-42 are the Plautine rendering of what Menander distills in one word.(18) But the difference between Plautus and Menander lies not only in the more extravagant rhetoric of the Roman poet. Plautus has reinterpreted the Greek idea, based on dike, into a Roman one, based on fides: the fides of such men is sublesta, "of no consequence." The ethical terms in which Plautus has dramatized the conflict are reflected in the new name he has found for his unjustly accused protagonist: Pistoclerus. Built on Greek pistis, this name echoes in Greek the new Roman theme and underscores Pistoclerus' true innocence.

This Romanization of the ethical terms that frame the action affects the characterization of the two young men, who seem Roman in their attitude towards fides. In Menander, Sostratos expresses pity for the foolishness of his friend (99) and reserves the harsher judgment for Bacchus; in Plautus, the emphasis is on Mnesilochus' anger at his friend and Pistoclerus' guilt. Pistoclerus himself unknowingly articulates the nature of the charge: he has betrayed the fides placed in him. Recast in these Roman ethical terms, Pistoclerus' supposed betrayal of his friend represented, dramatically and ethically, a more serious matter for the audience of Bacchides than alleged betrayal in Dis Exapaton represented for its audience. Like the good Romans in the audience, both Mnesilochus and Pistoclerus have little sympathy for a betrayal of fides.

Plautus takes the Romanization of the young men a step further, intimating an aspect of fides associated with Roman political life, when Pistoclerus condemns friends who are lingua factiosi. Factiosi is a word closely associated with Roman politics and means something like "busily active on behalf of one's political faction." It thus implies a political aspect of fides, which could guarantee political as well as personal amicitiae.(19) This reference to politics, while relevant to fides, seems unconnected with the action, which concerns an imagined betrayal of a personal friendship--the success the young men seek is sexual, not electoral. So it is tempting to fault Plautus for lack of artistry. However, there is a rationale for this apparent infelicity, which, as I argue later, affected how the audience perceived the "Romanness" of Mnesilochus and Pistoclerus.

In the second deception Chrysalus gulls Nicobulus into believing that Cleomachus is Bacchis' husband, about to catch his "wife" in bed with Mnesilochus, her adulterous lover: iam manufesto hominem opprimet (858).(20) The wily slave heads the soldier off, getting Nicobulus to promise payment to him as compensation for the outrage (842-924). The key event in this scene reflects circumstances in both Menander's Athens and Plautus' Rome, where a husband who caught his wife and her lover in the act had the right to kill the adulterer. At the same time, the arrangement in which the adulterer is able to make amends to the injured husband with a payment of money seems peculiarly Greek. Thus the second deception, while depicting a legal situation common to both Athens and Rome, is likely to be Greek in origin.(21)

Though basically Greek in its legal background, the second deception turns on the Roman contractual practice of stipulatio, an institution which depends on fides.(22) At 865-66 as Cleomachus blusters about, threatening to kill Bacchis and her lover, Chrysalus urges his master to "come to terms" with the soldier through a payment of money: pacisci cum illo paullula pecunia / potes (865). It is a suggestion Nicobulus desperately adopts (cf. 866), especially after Cleomachus' bloodthirsty threat at 868-69: nunc nisi ducenti Philippi redduntur mihi, / iam illorum ego animam amborum exsorbebo oppido. The ambiguity of redduntur reflects the misunderstanding: the soldier intends that something which belongs to him be returned; Nicobulus, who believes Bacchis is his wife, understands redduntur in reference to the meeting of an obligation, namely, the payment of the debt incurred for the violation of the man's marriage.(23) He urges Chrysalus again and again to "come to terms" with the soldier (pacisce, 870, 871). Chrysalus steps forward and orchestrates a formal promise between the two men:

CH. roga hunc tu, tu promitte huic. NI. promitto, roga.

CL. ducentos nummos aureos Philippos probos

dabin? CH. "dabuntur" inque. responde. NI. dabo. (881-83)

CH. You! Ask him for the money. You, promise him. NI. I promise--ask for it!

CL. Will you give me 200 good gold philips?

CH. Say, "They shall be given,"--answer! NI. I shall give them.

In stipulatio, "the substance of the answer had to correspond to the question and the verb used in reply had to be the same as that of the question." The prime guarantor of such a contract was the fides of the promiser (cf. 878, uerbum sat est); no writing or witnesses were required, although "no one possessing ordinary caution would fail to avail himself of one of these modes of proof."(24) This dramatization of the stipulatio indicates that Nicobulus' promise is a legal and formal one, one which he was obligated to fulfill according to the oldest and most deeply felt principles of Roman morality.

Here again Plautus' introduction of Roman practices and ethical standards has helped to Romanize his Greek characters. Chrysalus and Nicobulus, though nominal Greeks, were as familiar with the conventions of stipulatio as the audience of Bacchides. Nicobulus eagerly asks Chrysalus when he should make his formal pledge: quam mox dico "dabo"? (880). In other words, Plautus characterizes them in some way as Romans. On the other hand, the soldier, who would likely have been a foreign mercenary in Menander's play, is still depicted as a foreigner but, here, one who is unfamiliar with Roman practices. Thus Chrysalus and Nicobulus instruct him in what he must say in the stipulatio (881). We note that later, when misinforming Cleomachus about the whereabouts of Bacchis, Chrysalus supplies the kind of details that might interest a foreigner and tourist: Illa autem in arcem abiuit aedem uisere / Mineruae. nunc apertast (900-901).(25)

In Nicobulus' stipulatio to Cleomachus, Plautus again has associated a public or political aspect of fides with a private arrangement. This is accomplished through the emphasis on Nicobulus' "Romanness" and the "non-Romanness" of the Greek solider Cleomachus. As Gruen notes ("Pistis and Fides" 54-55), in their dealings with foreigners at this time Romans placed particular emphasis on the fides of the Roman people as a guarantee of Roman reliability, protection, and fairness. Characterized ethnically, as a promise made by a Roman to a Greek soldier, Nicobulus' stipulatio suggests an allusion to Rome's tendency to advertise its fides in its dealings with other nations.(26) Here again, Plautus appears to have suggested a political aspect of fides which seems inappropriate to the action. The high-minded allusion to Roman foreign conduct does not fit the circumstances of Nicobulus' stipulatio, which is a desperate promise to save his son from a disgraceful death in a tawdry affair. As with the reference to Roman politics implied by factiosi, I argue below that this apparent infelicity was intended to adjust the audience's perception of the characters' "Romanness."

Nicobulus' "Romanness" is confirmed by the unswerving determination he exhibits through the rest of the play to keep his promise. Both slave and master emphasize the connection between the promise and the certainty that Nicobulus will pay. This is the basis for Chrysalus' confidence at 968-70: is nunc ducentos nummos Philippos militi, quos dare se promisit, dabit.

The 200 philips he promised--now he'll give them to the soldier.

Nicobulus himself refers to his promise at 920 and 1051. At 1096-98, after he has learned the true relationship between the woman and the soldier, Nicobulus pays nonetheless, because of his promise: ita miles memorat meretricem esse eam quam ille uxorem esse aiebat, omniaque ut quidque actum est memorauit, eam sibi hunc annum conductam, relicuom id auri factum quod ego ei stultissumus homo promisissem ...

The soldier told me that the woman Chrysalus said was his "wife" is a "working girl."

He told me all the details, that he'd hired her for the year, and finally the truth about the money, which I, like an idiot, promised to pay.

Promised to pay ... and therefore had to. Of course, in real life Nicobulus would have been relieved of his obligation under such circumstances. But real life matters less here than the comic reality and the social assumptions behind it. The fulfillment of the second deception makes a kind of comic sense because it plays on the Roman ideal, if not practice, according to which one's stipulatio was strictly observed, as well as the Roman awareness of the moral obligation implied by stipulatio. Plautus' audience could have seen in Nicobulus a Roman fantasy of comic exaggeration, an extreme version of themselves. We do not know what was in Plautus' model at this point; however, there was no Greek equivalent to stipulatio. Nor does it seem likely that Menander would sacrifice social verisimilitude to the distorted demands of comic logic as Plautus has here.(27)


The stipulatio and the emphasis on Nicobulus' fides we have just seen in the second deception anticipate the theme of the third deception. However, in contrast to the second deception, which appears to reflect Greek practices and realities regarding adultery, the third deception is thoroughly Roman in its preoccupations and motivation. This Roman tenor is signaled by the words Nicobulus speaks at the controlversial lines 923-24. While the soldier is gone, Nicobulus orders Chrysalus to go into the house of the Bacchis sisters to read young Mnesilochus the riot act. Nicobulus himself wavers. First he resolves to confer again with his son before paying, because Chrysalus cannot be trusted (920-22). But then he abruptly changes his mind: uerum lubet etiam mi has pellegere denuo: aequomst tabellis consignatis credere.

But just the same, I'd like to read this letter again.

You can depend on a document that's signed and sealed.

The vagueness of these lines about Nicobulus' subsequent movements led Fraenkel rightly to suspect that Plautus ceased to follow Dis Exapaton at this point. However, while these lines sacrifice Menandrian clarity, they add thematic relevance to the coming deception. Fraenkel notes ("Fides") that fides may also be the quality which makes a person or thing worthy of trust or belief. The issue here is the fides of the letter, which Nicobulus foolishly takes for granted.(28) This neatly anticipates the manner in which he is about to be deceived again.(29) Not only is Nicobulus comically foolish in maintaining his own fides, he is incapable of estimating the fides of others. Thus the Roman motif of the third deception is introduced at the suspected point of Plautine insertion.

Chrysalus has been planning a third deception, a scheme to procure money for a wild party with the Bacchis sisters. He reenters bearing tablets which contain a second letter from Mnesilochus to his father, a second letter which, in fact, he has dictated to the boy. His entrance monologue is a triumphant Plautine canticum built around a grandiose, polyvalent metaphor comparing the mulcting of his master to the sack of Troy (925-78).

Nicobulus encounters Chrysalus after the Iliadic song. The slave falsely affirms that he has chastised Mnesilochus and presents his master with a letter from the boy. Fraenkel argues that the charm of this letter pointed to its Attic origins, that Plautus borrowed it from another Greek model.(30) The key moral isue, however, is Roman. After groveling apologies and expressions of shame (1007-9, 1013-16), Mnesilochus entreats his father for a second 200 gold philips:

NI. (reading) "ego ius iurandum uerbis conceptis dedi, daturum id me hodie mulieri ante uesperum, priu' quam a me abiret. nunc, pater, ne peiierem cura atque abduce me hinc ab hac quantum potest, quam propter tantum damni feci et flagiti."

"I gave my most solemn word of honor that I would give the woman the money today before evening, before she left me. Now, father, arrange it so that I won't have broken my word and take me away from here, as far as possible from this woman, because of whom I have committed so much outrage and suffered so much loss."

Mnesilochus pretends to need the additional money because he has promised it to the soldier's wife; if he cannot pay, he will have perjured himself. The formulae ius iurandum and uerbis conceptis characterize Mnesilochus' supposed promise as solemn and binding. The Roman solemnity of this promise echoes that of the earlier stipulatio. However, whereas that promise to pay reflects an actual Athenian law providing that an adulterer compensate the outraged husband, Mnesilochus' promise here has no such legal point of reference. We may be dealing with Plautine burlesque of Athenian law--in this case, it is the woman who is offered money. It seems less likely that such a travesty of Athenian law would be in Menander.

Nicobulus asks Chrysalus for his advice. The slave knows his master's attitude toward promises and slyly replies that he himself would rather pay the money than permit a situation to come about in which the boy would have committed perjury: dem potius aurum quam illum corrumpi sinam. duae condiciones sunt: utram tu accipias uide: uel ut aurum perdas uel ut amator peiieret.

I would rather pay the money than allow him to be compromised morally.

You have two choices; you be the judge: either you lose the money or lover-boy is a liar.

Nicobulus realizes he must pay again; Chrysalus helps him rationalize the expense with the observation that the loss of more money is preferable to a public airing of that disgrace--that his son is a perjurer: si plus perdundum sit, perisse suauiust quam illud flagitium uolgo dispalescere.

If more money must be lost, it is better to lose it than to have that shameful deed aired in public.

Thus Chrysalus pries even more money away from the old man. Nicobulus fears the disgrace Mnesilochus would incur by reneging on a solemn promise. In flagitium uolgo dispalescere there may be an allusion to the Roman practice of flagitatio, a right which allowed an offended party to expose and shame publicly a person who had failed to maintain his fides. Thus, the aspect of fides at issue here concerned the question of one's public reputation for trustworthiness.

The third deception succeeds only because Plautus has endowed Nicobulus, nominally a Greek, with a Roman sense of scrupulosity for fides which the old man carries to the point of farcical obsession. It matters not that he thinks the woman to whom Mnesilochus made his promise was herself an adulterous wife. Nor does it occur to Nicobulus that the flagitium his son may incur for breaking his word to such a woman may pale in comparison to the flagitium he has already admitted as an adulterer. I sense that Plautus' Roman audience had little difficulty recognizing a caricature of themselves in Nicobulus' obsession. Both this social caricature and the deception itself make "sense," albeit comic sense, in terms of Roman society only, which held fides as a core value. This, I suggest, points to the Plautine and Roman origins of the third deception.


It is now time to go beyond the parameters of this old problem in Plautine source criticism and to consider the antithesis between trust and deception in Bacchides in its social context. We have seen that the audience would have recognized many aspects of the wide nexus of conducts and behaviors implied by fides, both social and moral, public and personal, in the behavior and attitudes of Pistoclerus, Mnesilochus, and Nicobulus. But there is more to this play than a dramatic anatomy of fides in all its parts. The Plautine treatment of fides in Bacchides depicts a state of moral disorder, for Nicobulus is deceived repeatedly, not only despite his fides but in fact because of it. It is tempting to see Plautus here as a social critic--one who, for example, might mock the Roman value through Nicobulus' foolish gullibility. But Plautus was a comic playwright, not a social commentator; the implications of his treatment of fides are not so straightforward.

Bacchides is a play about deception as well as trust. Nicobulus' credulity and his comic concern to preserve his fides are the foils which show off the brilliant deceptions of his slave Chrysalus, who is as ready to deceive as his master is to be honest. Moreover, while Nicobulus' honesty is dramatized in the context of Roman fides, Chrysalus' talent for deceit is characterized as Greek. The social "message" of Bacchides needs to be considered in the context of the ethnic antithesis Plautus draws between these values.

Plautus emphasizes the "Greekness" of Chrysalus' deceptions through the use of Greek words. At 240 Chrysalus puns in Greek just before embarking on the first deception: opus est chryso Chrysalo. In the letter prepared for the second deception Chrysalus uses a Greek word (sycophantias, 740) to characterize the intrigue he plans. The same letter states that Chrysalus hopes his intriguing will enable Mnesilochus to "party like a Greek" (congraecem, 743).

Moreover, the contrast between Greek deceit and Roman honesty is implied in the canticum at 925-78. The canticum contains a fantastically elaborated metaphor in which Chrysalus compares his deceit of Nicobulus to the exploits of the Greeks at Troy: the tabellae on which the second letter has been written are the Trojan Horse; the letters in the tabellae are the ARgive soldiers; Pistoclerus is Epius; Mnesilochus is Sino at one point, Paris at another; Cleomachus is Menelaus. Chrysalus' three deceptions are the tria fata which presaged the fall of Troy: the theft of the Palladion, the death of Troilus, and the razing of the Phrygian Gate. Chrysalus himself is Agamemnon; but above all, he is Ulysses, who, like the slave, was "bold and bad" (audacem et malum, 949).(31) Thus, Chrysalus' exploits are set in the context of one of the most famous events in Greek literature; the slave himself is compared to Ulysses, the cleverest and most deceitful of Greek heroes. Chrysalus' target is Nicobulus, who is compared to Troy and Priam, an allusion to Rome through Rome's Trojan ancestors. This contrast between Greek and Roman is further emphasized in the episode which immediately follows, the third deception, in which Chrysalus exploits his master's zeal to honor the Roman obligations of fides.

This ethnic antithesis between Roman fides and Greek deception appears to reflect a similar distinction made by the comic poet's society: Romans had fides; Greeks were dishonest.(32) This stereotype is reflected in the reason Polybius adduces for the difference between the Greek and Roman procedures of auditing public officials. The Greeks assumed corruption and ruthlessly audited their officials. For the Romans, the fides of the official was sufficient to guarantee proper conduct (6.56.14). Even when, mirabile dictu, a Roman was deceiving a Greek, as was the case when Q. Marcius Philippus deceived Perseus regarding Roman intentions prior to the Third Macedonian War, the stereotype prevailed. Certain senators, adding insult to injury, implied that Philippus' sharp practice had more in common with Greek calliditas than Roman virtus or religio (Livy 42.47.7). While this attack on Philippus was politically motivated, it nonetheless presupposes the existence of a Roman bias to which Philippus' opponents could appeal. The stereotype is reflected in anecdotes such as Cato's assertion that the Greeks speak with their lips, the Romans with their hearts (Plut. Cato 12.5), and in the proverbial oxymoron fides Graeca.(33) Plautus generously catered to the prejudices of his audience. His words for deception and trickery, such as sycophantia, machinae, and techina, are generally of Greek origin.(34) The point here is not the fairness or historical reliability of the antithesis; we are dealing with a self--serving myth. We should note that although the Greeks had no form of oral contract such as the stipulatio, they valued honesty, the maintenance of oaths, and the fulfillment of obligations nonetheless. No single nation, not even the Romans, has ever had a monopoly on these virtues.(35) In other contexts Romans themselves were ready to acknowledge their own corruptibility, which they were disposed to blame on the pernicious influence of Greek mores.(36) The Romans trumpeted their fides the loudest when they wished to distinguish themselves from other peoples, and from the Greeks in particular.

The construction of this stereotypical antithesis may be connected with two events: Rome's acquisition of an overseas empire and its first extensive confrontation with the achievements of Greek culture. Both events contributed to a crisis in traditional Roman values: on the one hand, empire furnished immense wealth and temptation; on the other, the Greek achievement in literature, philosophy, science, and art presented an intimidating standard. The Romans reexamined their traditions, but now in relation to Greek culture. There evolved a tendency for the Romans to think of themselves and the Greeks stereotypically and antithetically. The antitheses they constructed allowed the Romans to rationalize the achievements of Greek culture and reassure themselves regarding the superiority of their own. The concern here is Greek dishonesty and Roman fides; other antitheses from this period include those between Greek extravagance and Roman parsimony, Greek lasciviousness and Roman sexual restraint, Greek levitas and Roman gravitas, the Greek love of theoretical discussion and Roman pragmatism.(37)

This antithesis between Roman fides and Greek deceit is not historically fair or accurate. Nonetheless, it helps suggest the complexity of the Roman reaction towards Hellenism. In particular, Bacchides offers us the opportunity to consider the complex and contradictory aspects of the reaction in the context of an organic literary work.(38) We must make allowances for the genre: the aim of Roman comedy was laughter, not the accurate reflection of Roman social attitudes. Still, it is possible to infer from the exaggerations and distortions required by the comic genre how Plautus' audience may have actually felt about the Greeks.

At the center of Bacchides is the audacious and brilliant Chrysalus. Not only does he deceive Nicobulus three times, but after the first deception he warns his master to be on guard against more trickery (742-44). The slave even predicts the conditions under which Nicobulus will be deceived; he will not need to filch the money, for the old man will surrender it of his own accord (824-25). This audacity is based on Chrysalus' confidence that he knows how to manipulate his master; the melodramatic events that Chrysalus narrates in the first deception blind Nicobulus to the improbability of the story; in the second and third deceptions Chrysalus appeals to his master's reflexive and unthinking concern to protect his son and preserve his fides. Thus Chrysalus' Greek deceitfulness is served by his facility for persuasive talk, a talent which the Romans particularly associated with the Greeks.(39)

Of course the Romans were keen practitioners of rhetoric themselves, perhaps no less than the Greeks. But this reality did not stop them from constructing a stereotype of "Greek" rhetorical cleverness. On hearing a Greek speaker, many a Roman would have tempered his enjoyment with caution. In 155, for example, Romans thrilled to the public philosophical lectures of Carneades, Diogenes, and Critolaus, who were present in Rome as ambassadors representing Athens. Carneades in particular enthralled his audience on one day arguing in favor of the notion that justice exists in nature; on the next day he argued brilliantly against it. Cato was scandalized. The censor urged the Senate to decide the issue on which the philosophers had come as ambassadors and send them on their way, because, according to Pliny, illo viro argumentante quid veri esset haut facile discerni posset (NH 7.112).(40) Similarly, in Bacchides Chrysalus' brilliance also excites and enthralls a Roman audience; at the same time it encodes a Roman caution regarding the slave's Greek rhetorical cleverness. For Plautus has characterized the stock New Comic situation in which a clever slave deceives his foolish master in ethnic terms: the clever Greek slave deceives the trustworthy and overly trusting Roman master; Greek Ulixes dupes Roman Priam. Thus Chrysalus symbolizes an aspect of Greek accomplishment which fascinated the Romans but potentially caused them uneasiness. Perhaps we may speak more generally: Chrysalus' facile manipulation of Nicobulus might reflect an underlying Roman uneasiness regarding the superiority of Greek culture in general, in literature, philosophy, science, art, and architecture.

Plautus would not have amused his audience by suggesting they were inferior and leaving it at that. His humor worked by raising a matter of the Roman concern and then rendering it harmless. The acknowledgment of Greek superiority implicit in Chrysalus' triumph is mitigated by several strategies. First, Nicobulus' regard for his fides represents both the clearest suggestion of his Romanness and at the same time the reason why he is deceived. Thus, for all his foolishness, there is something admirable about the old man in defeat: he is the only character in the play who upholds a principle, even when it causes him material loss. Second, Nicobulus' adherence to the higher morality of fides also helps to rationalize his defeat. It is not an even contest when one antagonist cleaves to a demanding code of behavior and the other can do whatever it takes to win.

Next, the ethnic symbolism of Chrysalus' triumph is blunted because Nicobulus, for all that he kept his fides, is not really a Roman but a Greek character in a fabula palliata. His eagerness to guarantee his son's reputation for good faith ignores Mnesilochus' confessed (falsely, no less!) disgrace as an adulterer. Nicobulus observes the punctilio of fides rather than its true spirit. Thus, Plautus simultaneously suggests Nicobulus' Romanness, through his concern for fides, and denies it, through Nicobulus' inability to get it right. Nicobulus' moral deficiency is also apparent at the end of Bacchides. After an initial show of resistance, Nicobulus finally succumbs to the seductions of Bacchis of Athens when she offers to return half the money cheated from him. With Philoxenus, the other senex and Pistoclerus' father, he joins the Bacchis sisters and the two young men in their revels. Thus, the old man's delinquency results from a combination of prurience and greed. Plautus provides an ethnic rationale for this fall from grace which goes beyond the previous depiction of Nicobulus as a Roman manque. For Nicobulus surrenders to temptation because he is a Greek. He will participate in the same revelry condemned earlier as congraecari (743). Plautus further suggests the Greekness of this sort of celebration early in the final scene itself. While he is still in an attitude of resistance, Nicobulus asks Philoxenus if he is "in love," that is, if he intends to join the party. "Nai gar!" exclaims Philoxenus in Greek (1162). Like his deficient Romanness, Nicobulus' Greekness provided Plautus' audience with an assuaging ethnic rationale for the old man's delinquency.

Two other episodes suggesting the Romanness of characters in Bacchides are undercut. When Mnesilochus wrongly suspects his friend Pistoclerus of betrayal, the imagined wrong is dramatized as a breach of fides, and both young men seem rather Roman in their regard for the ethic. However, when Pistoclerus condemns those false friends who are lingua factiosi ... sublesta fide, he describes his relationship to Mnesilochus in the language of Roman politics, with no apparent relevance to the action. The inappropriate reference to an aspect of fides associated with Roman politics helped remind Plautus' audience that despite their concern for the Roman ethic, these young men were not really Romans after all. In the second episode Plautus depicts Nicobulus' stipulatio to Cleomachus in ethnic terms, as an arrangement between a Roman and a foreigner; this ethnic contrast alludes to the conduct of Roman foreign policy, in which fides served as a guarantee of Roman fairness to subject states. But Nicobulus is promising to save his son from a disgraceful death, and this high-minded allusion does not fit the circumstances of his stipulatio and undercuts the suggestion of Nicobulus' Romanness. Thus these references to Roman society, far from being incidental Plautine infelicities, were essential to the Roman poet's subtle presentation of the "ethnicity" of his characters.

Finally, the apparent superiority of Greek Chrysalus over the "Roman" characters he manipulates is further undercut by the fact that the clever slave, for all his cleverness, is still a slave, and wishes to remain one. After the reversal of the first deception, when he warns his master to expect more trickery, Chrysalus predicts that Nicobulus will offer him his freedom and he will refuse it (828-29). Thus, Chrysalus' calliditas reassuringly presents no threat to the existing order of things and may be dismissed as a trivial and servile sort of cleverness.


In the contrast between Roman fides and Greek deceit in Bacchides we may discern some aspects of the Roman response to the Greeks and Hellenism. Chrysalus' manipulation of the "Roman" characters suggests anxiety at Greek intellectual superiority. However, Plautus renders this superiority harmless and allows his audience to dismiss it. He accomplishes this through a subtle modulation of the ethnic characterization of his "Roman" characters that simultaneously suggests and undercuts their Romanness; Nicobulus, Mnesilochus, and Pistoclerus are not really Romans, but Greeks. Chrysalus, for all his cleverness, is a slave and knows his place. Whatever the trivial advantages of Greek calliditas, the Romans possess fides.

Bacchides itself may represent an assertion of Roman superiority. With the addition of a third deception, Plautus in a sense surpassed his model--a likely ambition in any artist, perhaps more so when the artist was Roman and the master Greek. Plautus himself may allude to this achievement in the course of Bacchides itself, when Chrysalus boasts:

non mihi isti placent Parmenones, Syri,

qui duas aut tris minas auferunt eris. (649-50)

I don't like those Parmenos and Syruses

who steal two or three measly minae from their masters.

Syrus was the slave in Menander's play. In Chrysalus' declaration of superiority over Syrus may be Plautus' claim for the superiority of his Bacchides, with three deceptions, over Menander's Dis Exapaton, with two.(41)



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(1) Fraenkel's hypothesis, originally presented in Quaestiones 100-104, was further developed in Elementi 57-58 and n. 2. Williams's response is included in the appendix to his article "Construction of Pseudolus" 446-55. Fraenkel's retraction is noted in the supplementary notes to Elementi 403. For a bibliography of the response to Fraenkel see Lefevre, "Plautus-Studien II" 520-21. To the critics I would add Finette, "Fourberies." To Fraenkel's supporters add Thierfelder, "Generi in Plauto."

(2) Lefevre, "Plautus-Studien II." Primmer, Handlungsgliederung.

(3) This first step is useful because however we may feel about his theory of contaminatio, Fraenkel has noted important clues that Plautus significantly altered his original; on the other hand, Williams's response, while the most cogent defense of the idea that all three deceptions were originally in Menander, is nonetheless flawed.

(4) Fraenkel, Quaestiones 100-102 and Elementi 57-58 and n. 2.

(5) The following summary of Fraenkel's views regarding the significance of 923-24 (with some of my own amplification) is drawn from his Elementi 57-58 n. 2.

(6) Skutsch, "Notes," has argued that Nicobulus' presence onstage at 923 may be explained simply: Plautus wanted him to be onstage but not to notice the arrival of Chrysalus, thus creating space for the canticum. Skutsch further observes that Nicobulus would have also provided an amusing visual counterpoint to Chrysalus.

(7) Williams, "Construction of Pseudolus" 452, argues that the Nicobulus character may have waited onstage for his slave to return, covering his absence with a monologue, and acknowledged the slave directly on his reentrance. Primmer, Handlungsgliederung 84-94, argues that Nicobulus exited at 920 to the forum, clearing the stage for the end of the fourth act.

(8) In Ritschl's Opuscula Philologica II 365, quoted by Williams, "Construction of Pseudolus" 453.

(9) I concur with Williams, "Construction of Pseudolus" 453 n. 1, in rejecting an alternative accounting which regards the two letter deceptions as a single one. The two letter deceptions share a method, but are two distinct acts of deception. For the bibliography on this question see Lefevre, "Plautus-Studien II" 520-21.

(10) Fraenkel, Elementi 383-84: "Essi [sc.Plautus' models] debbono fornirgli la materia prima per le sue produzioni cio che egli non sa creare di suo, la vera e propria invenzione drammatica e la condotta di un dialogo che promuova l'avanzare dell'azione."

(11) Apart from the arguments which follow, it should be noted that Williams's interest in the problem is connected with his thought-provoking but problematic attempt to determine the relative dating of Bacchides and Pseudolus. The general consensus since Ritschl has been that Pseudolus came first. Williams reaches the opposite conclusion in an analysis which compares motifs common to both plays. He argues that in Bacchides these common motifs are used consistently with the plot and thus derive from the Greek original; on the other hand, in Pseudolus the same motifs can be shown to be Plautine additions or reworkings of the model. Williams implies that this more independent use of the motifs in Pseudolus indicates Plautus' poetic development; therefore Bacchides, not Pseudolus, is the earlier play. The third deception involves one of the motifs in question, where the master himself insists the slave take some money (cf. 825 and 1059-66). According to Williams, Bacchides, the earlier play, was here following its Greek model. On the other hand, if the view is adopted that Plautus has added a third deception on his own initiative, Williams's earlier date for Bacchides would be undermined. See Questa, Parerga 15-22, for a review of the various approaches to the question of the date of Bacchides. Questa himself endorses the traditional view that Pseudolus came first.

(12) See the concise and helpful summary of this scholarship in Lowe, "Originality."

(13) Primmer, Handlungsgliederung. Earlier Buchner, Literaturgeschichte 92-96, had suggested without arguments that the third deception was a free creation by Plautus. Lefevre, "Plautus-Studien II" 520-21, also argues that Plautus has added the third deception, in a complex reconstruction that distinguishes what is Plautine and what is Menandrian--but in greater detail than the sources allow. According to Lefevre, Plautus created two letter deceptions from what was a single deception by letter in Menander. Plautus retained the circumstances of the Menandrian deception in his first letter deception, but composed a new letter for it, the one in which Chrysalus warns Nicobulus to be on his guard. The original Menandrian letter, with appropriate modification, was transposed to the second letter deception, Plautine in origin, in which Mnesilochus asks for a second 200 philips to give to Bacchis. Lefevre's reconstruction has been endorsed by Barsby, Bacchides 170.

(14) It is neither possible nor necessary here to determine the "original" meaning of fides. Fraenkel, "Fides," sees the original sense in the protection offered the weak by the strong, which he argues is less a moral and more a practical or social commitment. On the other hand, Heinze, "Fides," stresses the moral compulsion implied by fides, a quality clearly present in Plautus. The related connection between fides and power is emphasized by Piganiol, "Venire in fidem," who sees fides as a quality akin to imperium, inspiring confidence in the authority of the leader. Hellegouarc'h Vocabulaire 23-40, emphasizes the social importance of fides. A useful summary of theoretical views on fides is found in Dahlheim, Struktur und Entwicklung 26-31.

(15) See Gruen, "Pistis and Fides."

(16) Following the lead of Handley, Comparison, much has been written about these passages. In particular, I cite Gaiser, "Bacchides und Dis Exapaton"; Questa, Parerga 46-54; Bain, "Plautus uortit barbare"; Schonbeck, Beitrage 91-130; Arnott, Menander, Plautus, Terence 38-40. For bibliography up to 1975 see Fogazza, "Plauto 1935-1975"; up to 1976, Segal, "Scholarship."

(17) The line references to Menander are those of Sandbach, Menandri Reliquiae Selectae.

(18) Controversy surrounds 540-42, which are part of a passage (540-51) omitted by the Ambrosian manuscript. The passage was defended by Leo, Forschungen 131, who says that the description of the false friend is certainly derived from Menander. Trankle, "Zwei Stellen," led the attack on Plautinity of the lines. His arguments were endorsed by Schonbeck, Beitrage 115-18, and Bain, "Plautus uortit barbare." Trankle's attack on the passage is comprehensive but unconvincing. Most surprising among advantages he sees with the removal of the lines is that the scene would have more Zielstrebigkeit. However, readers of Plautus would be surprised if the poet himself had held such "purposiveness" as an aesthetic desideratum. Indeed, the passage seems a fairly characteristic example of Plautine expansion, transforming the Greek material in accordance with a Roman theme. More significantly, a key phrase, sublesta fide, is echoed at Persa 348 (fides sublestior), a scene in which fides has similar thematic importance. Handley, Comparison 17, may well be right, that the passage was omitted initially to shorten the scene in production and that this abridgement was eventually adopted by editors who observed the passage was inorganic and had no parallel in Menander. See also Questa, Parerga 49-54.

(19) Plautus frequently colors the language of personal relationships with the language of Roman politics. See Earl, "Terminology in Plautus" and the first chapter of his Tradition 11-43.

(20) For a detailed analysis of this scene see Schonbeck, Beitrage 131-59.

(21) See Barsby, Bacchides 164, who notes that manufestus is Roman legalese. On Roman legal usage see Corbett, Marriage 127-46. Roman law provided for compensation of the outraged husband, but from the offending woman's dowry. On the situation under Athenian law see Harrison, Law 32-38, and Harris, "Seduction."

(22) On the importance of the stipulatio in Pseudolus see Williams, "Construction of Pseudolus" 424-46.

(23) On reddere see Williams, "Construction of Pseudolus" 445-46.

(24) Watson, Private Law 117.

(25) It is interesting to note that the soldier uses some odd and extravagant expressions which perhaps may suggest his foreignness: nam neque Bellona mi umquam neque Mars creduat, / ni illum exanimalem faxo, si conuenero, / niue exheredem fecero uitae suae (847-49). Chrysalus, in fact, may even be mocking Cleomachus' manner of speech when he threatens to make the soldier (approximately) "more full of holes than a dirge for a dormouse"--tefaciam, si tu me inritaueris, / confossiorem (888-89)--gibberish which Cleomachus, in his ignorance of the local patois, mistakes for some awful form of retaliation. For a survey of earlier views on these lines see Schonbeck, Beitrage 148-49.

(26) If MacMullen, "Hellenizing," is correct and Plautus' audience consisted of the Roman elite, they would have recognized this allusion without great difficulty. However, it seems' likely that even the Roman hoi polloi were acquainted with the rhetoric which promoted Rome's image abroad by advertising its fides.

(27) The father may well have paid the money then and there, completing the second of the two deceptions in Dis Exapaton. Williams, "Construction of Pseudolus" 426-27, suggests that the stipulatio at Pseudolus 115-16 replaces a simple promise in the Greek play. According to Primmer, Handlungsgliederung 74-80, the Nicobulus character followed the soldier to the forum to pay the money at the conclusion of this scene.

(28) It is possible that this reference contains a topicality that is lost to us. Public records in Rome, tabellae, were not always carefully maintained, as Cicero indicates in Pro Archia (9), noting that in the case of a particular praetor calamitas omnen tabularum fidem resignasset. A similar scandal may have been behind Nicobulus' naive remark at 924.

(29) Questa, Parerga 63-64 n. 51, notes. Gian Biagio Conte's view per litteras, that these lines are ironically relevant in that Nicobulus, warned not to trust Chrysalus, falls victiom to deceit by not trusting him.

(30) Fraenkel, Quaestiones 102-3: "Quam actionem nulla Graeca fabula adhibita Plautum libere finxisse ut parum uerisimile est, plane refutature eximia epistulae uenustate. Talia Attici poetae stilum redolent." Lefevre, "Plautus-Studien II" 522-25, and Primmer, Handlungsgliederung 65-70, 84-88, have argued that the second letter derives mainly from Dis Exapaton.

(31) Jocelyn, "Chrysalus," argues that this canticum has been subjected to extensive post-Plautine interpolation. However, I accept its essential Plautinity and the view expressed by Slater, Performance 111 n. 26, that "Jocelyn has done a real service in minutely describing the shifts within the monologue, but all or nearly all are in the imaginative range of one poet and the performance powers of one actor." See Lefevre, "Plautus-Studien V," for a more detailed defense of the Plautinity of the metaphorical twists and turns in the canticum.

(32) On the Roman contrast between greek deceit and Roman honesty see Petrochilos, Attitudes 43-45.

(33) Plautus refers to fides Graeca at Asinaria 199.

(34) For other examples of Greek terms for deception in Plautus see Brotherton, Intrigue.

(35) Certain aspects of fides and pisiis may be closer than the common view has allowed. Gruen, "Pistis and Fides" 64-66, has argued that pistis played a role similar to fides in the conduct of relations between Greek states, including the regulation of arrangements between stronger and weaker powers. However, he does not address the question whether pistis, like fides, regulated the relationship between stronger and weaker individuals.

(36) For a discussion of Roman perceptions of Roman moral corruption see Lintott, "Moral Decline."

(37) Most of the evidence for these stereotypes is from the late Republic. However, as Gruen suggests, Hellenistic World 260-66, it appears that the late Republican stereotypes had their roots in Plautus' period. For other discussions of the Roman stereotype of the Greek see Petrochilos, Attitudes 35-53, and Balsdon, Romans and Aliens 30-40.

(38) Petrochilos, Attitudes, examines the complexity and contradictions in the Roman response to Hellenism. His work is useful as a collection of evidence for Roman attitudes; however, much of the evidence he has assembled is post-Plautine and taken out of the context in which it originally appears. Gruen, Studies, sees a tension between Rome's private embrace of Greek culture and a public effort to distance the state from Hellenism and assert what is distanctly Roman; such tensions were at play in Rome's reception of the cult of Cybele in 201, the suppression of the Bacchus cult in 186, the burning of the Pythagorean books in 181, and periodic expulsions of Greek philosophers and rhetoricians. he perceives a similar ambivalence to Greek culture in Plautus, for all that the poet worked in a Greek genre. MacMullen, "Hellenizing," discusses the motivation behind Roman Hellenism, which was self-promotional as well as aesthetic. He distinguishes between aspects of Greek culture which received acceptance, such as literature and architecture, and aspects rejected, such as homosexuality and luxury.

(39) On the Roman stereotype of the Greek as a clever talker see Petrochilos, Attitudes 35-45, and Balsdon, Romans and Aliens 32-33.

(40) On Cato and the embassy see Astin, Cato 174-77. Plutarch's account of the incident (Cato maior 22-23.1) stresses that Cato was hostile to Greek philosophy in general.

(41) I thank W. Geoffrey Arnott, Sander Goldberg, Niall Slater, and my colleagues at Ohio University, James Andrews and Stephen Hays, for their helpful criticism on earlier versions of this paper.
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Author:Owens, William M.
Publication:American Journal of Philology
Date:Sep 22, 1994
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