Plautus, Amphitryo | Dramatic Reading of the Famous Comedy

Plautus, Amphitryo | Dramatic Reading of the Famous Comedy

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1 hour 23 min of Latin audio in 11 audio files, plus PDF of original text (audio recording is based off the Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata [LLPSI] series reader edited by Hans Ørberg).

Titus Maccius Plautus (254-184 BC) was a playwright of the Roman Republic whose hilarious comedies are the earliest Latin literary works to have survived in their entirety.

The Amphitryo is a particularly ridiculous affair! The themes, characters, and tropes such as mistaken identity, jealously, and redemption, are recognisable to fans of classic comedies in the modern era, from Friends to The Marriage of Figaro. The timeless nature of the subject matter and comic style make this truly ancient work eminently accessible and enjoyable.

The fun of the comedy is reflected in the voice acting: characters are vividly portrayed each with a distinct sound that makes their presence on the imaginary stage easy to imagine. This audiobook is a dramatized recording of the entire play (with a few minor abridgements). The original text of the play is attached in PDF form; the recording is based on the slightly abridged version by Ørberg for LLPSI.

Synopsis (spoiler alert): 

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

Mercury's job is to 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, he 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 Amphitryo.

The following morning, Amphitryo sets off for the house, annoyed by his slave's foolish sounding story. Jupiter leaves only moments before Amphitryo arrives, and when Alcumena sees her real husband, she is confused as to why he has returned. Amphitryo 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, Alcumena is ready to leave her untrusting husband but is stopped by Jupiter. He soon begins to set things right, and in a miraculous event, Alcumena gives birth to twin boys. One is the son of Amphitryo, the other is Hercules, the son of Jupiter. To quell Amphitryo’s anger, he explains to him what he did, and Amphitryo is then honored to have shared his wife with a god.