4 - Curculio
The Ring Is the/a Thing
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 December 2022
Chapter 4 is oriented around a letter-making signet ring whose imprint makes Curculio’s forged text “real.” Its agency, however, is not confined to epistolary deception, and this chapter unpacks the anulus’ potent theatrical agency by elucidating its operation in excess of human design. I shift my focus in exploring the metatheatrical portrait generated by Curculio’s epistolary motif. Whereas Chapters 1 through 3 consider the common ability of letters and scripts to evoke absent people, here I look at the power of these media to conjure up faraway places. Both epistles and dramatic texts bring “here” to “there” (or vice versa), a capacity enacted in Curculio’s composition of a letter at Epidaurus which encapsulates his encounter in Caria and flaunted in the choragus’ tour that blurs the line between theatrical and experiential space. Finally, this chapter returns to questions of innovation and artistic dependence. Curculio’s missive invites us to reflect on the impossibility of originality for the author on the outside when an author on the inside makes the play by recomposing yet another author’s text. A coda considers the play’s seal as related to the literary sphragis.
- Letters in PlautusWriting Between the Lines, pp. 127 - 160Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2022