Dating and duality : Plautus’ Amphitruo in the historical context
Montgomery, Tiffany Noel
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Within the extant corpus of Plautus, Amphitruo is particularly unusual, and not comfortably situated within an established genre. Nestled in the liminal space between non- Roman and Roman, comedy and tragedy, oral and written, and religious and socio-political commentary, the complexity of Amphitruo falls well beyond the boundaries of the standard Plautine comedic plot. Although close intertextual readings of the Amphitruo have been essential for interpretation, situating it within its historical context would provide an additional resource for a richer understanding of it. Through evaluation of the astrological ekphrasis in the text, it appears that the performance of the Amphitruo can be dated to the dedication of the Magna Mater cult at the ludi Megalenses in 191 BCE. Keeping this in mind, we can better evaluate the dualities and socio-political references situated within the text as a commentary on the substantial religious and political changes that followed the end of the Second Punic War and adoption of a foreign cult as the Roman mother goddess.