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The One about the Asses

Plautus; Translated and with commentary by John Henderson

Publication Year: 2006

Asses, asses, and more asses! This new edition of Plautus' rumbustious comedy provides the complete original Latin text, witty scholarly commentary, and an English translation that both complements and explicates Plautus' original style. John Henderson reveals this play as a key to Roman social relations centered on many kinds of slavery: to sex, money, and family structure; to masculinity and social standing; to senility and partying; and to jokes, lies, and idiocy. The translation remains faithful to Plautus' syllabic style for reading aloud, as well as to his humorous colloquialisms and wordplay, providing readers with a comfortable affinity to Plautus himself. An indispensable teaching and learning tool for the study of Roman New Comedy, this edition includes comprehensive commentary, useful indexes, and a pronunciation guide that will help readers of all levels understand and appreciate Plautus and his era.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

Res ridicula est. This play endured much comical misrepresentation and suffered farcical underappreciation in twentieth- century reception (p. 224 n.5). I should like to recommend its “wit and fun”; and proclaim to one and all: “it’s a gas” (13– 14). The One about the Asses is full of Rome: slavery and sex slavery; money...

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pp. xi-xiv

“I’m a person as much as you,” so the actor playing the slave playing the slave overseer tells the actor playing the straight-up role of free trader stranger- in-town.1 “P’raps, and yet—,” comes the rebuff , polite prudence to the end, “—A man’s...

Asinaria Text and Translation

Key to Text

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pp. 2-3

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Asinaria: The One about the Asses

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pp. 4-101

hoc ăgĭtĕ s iuultis, s pectat ores, n uncĭa m, quaĕquĭd em mĭh i atquĕ u obis r es uert at bĕn e grĕgĭq ue huic et d ŏmĭnis atquĕ c onduct orĭb us. {face n uncĭa m tu, p raeco, omn em aurit um pŏp lum.

Language, Metre, and Text

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Plautin Language and Latin Vocabulary

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pp. 105-116

The glosses include several items of U.K. and of U.S. colloquialism used in the translation. See also Index, Asinaria, s.v. wordplay and puns...

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Outline of the Metres of Asinaria

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pp. 117-120

Gratwick (1993) 40– 63, 251– 60, and MacCary and Willcock (1976) 211– 32, are most help for understanding, scanning, and reading Plautine verse: both are model presentations, attempting to teach from fi rst principles to expertise in a few short pages. Not many readers will read enough plays to make doing the verse justice...

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Differences That Make a Difference

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pp. 121-122

...6 mihi [mi] 25– 26 ita me obstinate aggressus es ut non audeam | profecto percontanti quin promam omnia. deleted [bracketed by Lindsay: dreadful doublet of 23– 4] 32– 33 DEM. quid istuc est? aut ubi istuc est terrarum loci? | LIB. ubi fl ent nequam homines qui polentam pinsitant. deleted [ruins 34– 9] 65 obsequentiam...

Commentary and Analysis

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1 Killing the Plot

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pp. 125-135

Son ’fessed up—cashflow probs (74– 5). A brace of slaves are assisting son; now pater wants to join the team, and be as good a mate as his own father once was, in his day. Cash to hand son to hand hooker?...

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2 Drive a Hard Bargain

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pp. 136-142

The comic stage yokes together society’s house of decency and society’s red house. As paterfamilias takes the part of his loving son, they bid for a stake in the turn- over of the one- girl “brothel” through the party wall. Uptown and downtown...

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3 Funny Money

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pp. 143-154

The slave agent pair split and share the role as counterpart doublets (cf. alter noster, 58). One promised to help father help son, but has so far only napped, asleep off - stage and now back on. Time to assess the potential of his part in the...

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4 American Beauty

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pp. 155-157

The One about the Asses began with unprecedented consonance between master and slave. Then it erupted in friction between manageress and client. It fl ipped the switch into comradely cooperation between slaves frustrated by resistance from the outsider...

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5 Beating the System

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pp. 158-165

For a second time, enter the brace of agents, in cahoots and on a roll (p. 146). In no time at all, they are back, One plus Two. First time around in the donkey derby, in sped Two, to share his (aural- verbal) booty (, 269).1 So near yet so far. This time they are in tandem. They bring...

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6 Stick to the Script

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pp. 166-168

Once more in the play, someone just missed the wave, and must play catch-up. Diabolus the other (half of the) young lover (role) is too late. Ha! The play’s least favourite son, this earwig you mustn’t let burrow into your mind and laser the fun...

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7 Rotten Rhetorics

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pp. 169-182

The girl’s parent had expelled her “lover,” then mama expelled her lover— the trick she loves and who loves her. That good child was a good(time) girl scolded. Now the boy’s parent has bought his way inside those same coin- operated doors,...

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8 “It’s a gas”

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pp. 183-190

A Plautus play works a helical pattern of spatial and metrical dynamics, its verse spins to-and- fro between the two stage- doors (metre: pp. 117–20). That’s why they are there (pp. 134–5, 136). Now we have read through Asinaria, I shall focus directly...

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9 Beastly LIves

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pp. 191-221

These are, as a matter of fact, the only “asses” or asses in the rest of Plautus beyond the seven mentions in Asinaria.1 They belong to the brothel- keeper Ballio (= “Beater,”...

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10 A Right Earful

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pp. 207-212

This includes everyone in town. (= “Keep your ear to the ground!: all of us are [in] this play.”2 Hearing is reading out [loud]. It is [not] heeding, [dis]obedience, trying to attune, reaching for the intonation, following along a rhythm, indulgence...

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pp. 213-218

A Roman audience has been round the theatre block before.1 Knows that an actor applauded is also a slave saved, from lashings of lashing. The lead is a mule, as well as today playing one, and his hide stands to suff er the tanning that the slaves playing the slave...


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pp. 219-240


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pp. 241-246


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pp. 247-252


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pp. 268-274

E-ISBN-13: 9780299219932
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299219949

Publication Year: 2006