The comedies of Titus Maccius Plautus, most of which are based on episodes of everyday life, show stereotyped family life and invert traditional roman values in a carnevalesque manner. Their dramatic plots – the problems, conflicts and threats of typical characters, which are in most cases revealed already in the prologue – always close with a happy end and thereby reestablish social balance and order. Even though Plautus wrote adaptations of the Greek New Comedy (palliata), he took into account the specifics of the cultural context and imbued his plays with significant Roman nuances, in order to address his audience with distinctive local characteristics.
Among other aspects of Roman everyday life, which were shown by Plautus on stage, numerous religious practices were a discernable part of his plays. This is no coincidence, as rituals were an essential component of Roman everyday life. They were regulated by law and an important part of all events, concerning both the private and the public sphere. In my thesis, I will research religious rituals in the context of Plautine drama and analyze the whole specter of their performative character. Focusing on the fact that rituals consist of verbal and physical elements, which have to be contextualized accordingly, and taking into account that they evoke certain cognitive and emotional aspects in the persons involved, I will concentrate on drama-inherent performative elements as well as on questions related to the audience response.
The concept of resonance will offer a new and comprehensive approach to this problematic and open up new perspectives on the role of religious rituals in the Plautine theatre, be it on the level of dramatic performance or regarding the question of the contemporary audience response.
After graduating in Latin and Sociology of Culture at the University of Ljubljana, Blaž Ploj worked as a high school teacher and assistant at the Universities of Ljubljana and Maribor. Currently, he is a researcher and PhD candidate at the Department of Classical Philology of the University of Graz and at the International Graduate School “Resonant Self-World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices”.