Titus Maccius Plautus, Captivi [The Prisoners]

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is set (unusually for New Comedy) in the region of Aetolia on the mainland of Greece. The Aetolians had a history of conflict with Rome, and from 191 BCE until its defeat in 189 BCE, the Aetolian League was at war with the Romans. As was the case for many of Rome’s enemies, the Aetolians were stereotyped as treacherous and untrustworthy. Given these historical factors and the play’s emphasis on the theme of


(“credibility,” “honor”),


has been plausibly dated to the late 190s BCE, i.e. the latter years of Plautus’ career: see further Franko (1995).

The prologue of Captivi is most striking. The prologist stands beside two mute prisoners of war, Tyndarus and Philocrates, said to be from the Peloponnesian city-state of Elis. The captives are probably in

1537 words

Citation: Christenson, David M.. "Captivi". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 May 2009 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=26472, accessed 05 March 2024.]

26472 Captivi 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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