Amphitryon (play)

Amphitryon (play)

Infobox_Play | name = Amphitryon

caption = Plautus
writer = Plautus
characters = Mercury
Sosia (Amphitryon’s slave)
Alcmena (Amphitryon’s wife)
Blepharo (ship’s pilot)
Bromia (Alcmena’s maid)
setting = Thebes, before the house of Amphitryon

"Amphitryon" is a Latin play for the early Roman theatre by playwright Titus Maccius Plautus. Plautus’ only play on a mythological subject, he refers to it as a "tragicomoedia" (tragic comedy) during the prologue. It includes Amphitryon’s jealous and confused reaction to Alcmena’s seduction by Jupiter, and ends with the birth of Hercules.


"Amphitryon" begins with a prologue given by the god Mercury, in which he gives some background information to the audience. Amphitryon and his slave Sosia have been away at war and are returning to Thebes. Meanwhile, the god Jupiter is sleeping with Amphitryon’s wife Alcmena. Jupiter is in the guise of Amphitryon so that Alcmena is unaware that he is not her husband.

Mercury's job is buy his father Jupiter some time by deceiving those who would interfere. He changes his appearance to look like the slave Sosia, and when the real Sosia arrives, beats him up and sends him away from the house. Thoroughly confused by having been beat up by himself, Sosia returns to the ship to relay what happened to his master Amphitryon.

The following morning, Amphitryon sets off for the house, annoyed by his slave's foolish sounding story. Jupiter leaves only moments before Amphitryon arrives, and when Alcmena sees her real husband, is confused as to why he has returned. Amphitryon doesn't appreciate this strange welcome after being gone for so many months, and confusion turns to anger and jealousy after learning that she has slept with a man who is not himself.

After a long argument, Alcmana is ready to leave her untrusting husband but is stopped by Jupiter. He soon begins to set things right, and in a miraculous event, Alcmana gives birth to twin boys. One is the son of Amphitryon, the other is Hercules, the son of Jupiter. To quell Amphitryon’s anger, he explains to him what he did, and Amphyitryon is then honored to have shared his wife with a god.


* Henry Thomas Riley, 1912: [ "Amphitryon" full text]
* Paul Nixon, 1916-38
* Sir Robert Allison, 1942
* E. F. Watling, 1964
* Paul Roche, 1968
* Constance Carrier, 1970
* Lionel Casson, 1971

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Amphitryon — Amphitryon, or Amphitrion, in Greek mythology, was a son of Alcaeus, king of Tiryns in Argolis.Amphitryon ( harassing either side ) was a Theban general, who was originally from Tiryns in the eastern part of the Peloponnese. He was friends with… …   Wikipedia

  • Amphitryon 38 — a play (1938) by Jean Giraudoux. * * * …   Universalium

  • Amphitryon 38 — a play (1938) by Jean Giraudoux …   Useful english dictionary

  • Miles Gloriosus (play) — Miles Gloriosus Plautus Written by Plautus Setting Ephesus Miles Gloriosus is a comed …   Wikipedia

  • Mercator (play) — Mercator Plautus Written by Plautus Characters Charinus Acanthio Demipho Lysimachus slave Eutychus Pasico …   Wikipedia

  • Marriage à la mode (play) — Written by John Dryden Date premiered 1673 (1673) Place premiered London O …   Wikipedia

  • Curculio (play) — Curculio Plautus Written by Plautus Characters Palinurus Phaedromus Leaena Planesium Cappadox cook Curculi …   Wikipedia

  • Latin profanity — is the profane, indecent, or impolite vocabulary of Latin, and its uses. The profane vocabulary of early Vulgar Latin was largely sexual and scatological: the abundance[1] of religious profanity found in some of the Romance languages is a… …   Wikipedia

  • Olympus on My Mind — Music Grant Sturiale Lyrics Barry Harman Book Barry Harman Basis play by Heinrich Von Kleist Amphitryon …   Wikipedia

  • Alcmene — In Greek mythology, Alcmene or Alcmena (Greek: polytonic|Aλκμήνη) was the mother of Heracles.BackgroundAlcmene was born to Electryon, king of Mycenae and a son of Perseus.Apollodorus, Library 2.4.5 [… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.