Playing with Drama

Each translator takes their own liberty of dividing a play into acts and scenes. In modern plays, there are five acts, each with varying amounts of scenes. An act is defined by a break of time, where as a scene as either a character exiting or entering the stage. Editors of Latin texts will structure plays to fit the modern model, some will only put in acts close to the original markers.

The Roman tradition of Drama for tragedies has acts separated by a monologue or song from the Chorus. Personally, I have never been able to understand the significance of the Chorus in most plays, Seneca is by no means an exception. Comedies on the other hand do not have choirs to naturally separate the acts. Therefore, time mentions and character entrance and exits define the lines. Keeping those things in mind, I divided Amphitruo into the following outline:

  • Prologue: Lines 1-147
  • Act I: 148-55
    • Scene i: 148-496
    • Scene ii: 496-550
  • Act II: 551-1008
    • Scene i: 551-632
    • Scene ii: 633-860
    • Scene iii: 861-1007
  • Act III: 1008-1039
    • Within this act there are lines missing. Within these fragments and missing lines, Amphitruo argues why he is not insane when Mercury disguised as Sosia aids in confusing the general. If those lines remained, I would have scenes within this act.
  • Act IV: 1039-1146
    • Scene i: 1039-1071
    • Scene ii: 1072-1130
    • Scene iii: 1130-1146

With this exercise I was able to organize a play how I saw fit. For a class of Latin students, you could divide them into groups and give each group their own section of lines. They can then decided if these lines all belong in the same scene, or act. After establishing the boundaries of the scenes, students could then make a production piece on the scene. If the students contradict the sections you give them, then group organize the groups and lines to how the class decides the play should be separated.

To see my summaries of each act and scene, use the extension Hypothesis.