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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Roman theatrical life took place in a decidedly ludic, and thus religious as well as political, context, in which the Romans developed strategies of tuning in to and aligning themselves religiously and culturally with the Greeks. Plautus’s treatment of religious themes and the gods is largely unified and classifiable, while Terence offers much less material for this kind of investigation. In Plautine comedy, one finds discourse about the gods, discourse and interaction with the gods, and discourse or action by the gods. These interactions can be brought into a system of seven categories, depending on the relative proximity to, or distance from, the gods. In many of his plays Plautus explores, mainly implicitly, the formal conditions for the successful completion of ritual acts, such as prayers and oaths.

Keywords: religion, mythology, ludi, ludic context, religious festivals, instauratio, staged rituals, theater semiotics, performance theory, speech acts, prayer, oath, curse, interrupted rituals

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