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Written byPlautus
slave boy
Settinga street in Calydon, Before the houses of Agorastocles and Lycus, and the Temple of Venus

Poenulus, also called The Little Carthaginian or The Little Punic, is a Latin comedic play for the early Roman theatre by Titus Maccius Plautus, probably written between 195 and 189 BC.[1] The play is noteworthy for containing text in Carthaginian Punic, spoken by the character Hanno in the fifth act.[2]


Agorastocles is in love with a woman named Adelphasium, who is a slave belonging to the pimp Lycus. Agorastocles, Adelphasium, and her sister Anterastilis were stolen as children from Carthage. Agorastocles was purchased as an adopted son, whereas the girls were sold as slaves to become prostitutes.

Milphio, the slave of Agorastocles, attempts to help his master obtain Adelphasium. Their plan is to trick Lycus and get him into legal trouble. Collybiscus, Agorastocles' bailiff, dresses up as a foreigner and moves into Lycus' home. Agorastocles and some witnesses then accuse Lycus of harboring his slave. Eventually, Hanno arrives from Carthage, and they soon discover he is the cousin of Agorastocles' dead parents, as well as the father of the two girls. In the end, the girls are seized from Lycus, who is punished, and the story concludes with a happy family reunion. Hanno gives Agorastocles his blessing to marry his daughter.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gregor Maurach, Der Poenulus des Plautus (Carl Winter, 1988; ISBN 3533038939), p. 33.
  2. ^ Sznycer, Maurice (1967). Les passages puniques en transcription latine dans le Poenulus de Plaute. Paris: Librairie C. Klincksieck.
  3. ^ Cf., H. J. Rose, A Handbook of Latin Literature (London: Methuen 1936; 3d ed. 1954, reprint Dutton 1960) at 51-52.
  4. ^ Plautus; Translated by Wolfgang de Melo (2012). Plautus, Vol IV: The Little Carthaginian; Pseudolus; The Rope. Loeb Classical Library. ISBN 067499986X.

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