2 - Persa
Whose Play Is It Anyway?
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 December 2022
Chapter 2 begins by examining the correspondence between lovers Toxilus and Lemniselenis, using it to further investigate the metatheatrical dynamics of written correspondence on the Plautine stage and to consider the love letter qua category of epistolary writing. Next, it considers the ruse enacted via forgery. Relying on the same letter-as-script and letter-as-scheme metaphor active in Bacchides, Persa establishes an association between writing and belief to meditate on the nature of theatrical illusion. This chapter continues, then, to unpack the synergy between performance and text in Plautus but it focuses on the other end of the epistolary and dramatic processes via analysis of Persa’s onstage reading scene, which generates a simultaneously theatrical and anti-theatrical vision of an actor reading his lines on stage. Finally, I concentrate on Persa’s deception which replicates the content of the larger play it inhabits, delving deeper into the mechanics of mise-en-abymes to show how Plautus employs embedded text and internal dramaturgy to address the problem of creative originality, prompting us to question whose play we are watching.
- Letters in PlautusWriting Between the Lines, pp. 57 - 85Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2022