Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Brothers - Terence (94)

I wrote a bit about Terence here.  To recap, he was one of the more important Roman playwrights.  He was very widely read amongst the learned peoples at least up until the early 1800s.  And he has mostly dropped off of contemporary radars for whatever reason. 

'The Brothers' is about two sets of brothers.  The first set is an older, middle aged, set.  One works on the farm while the other is in the city.  One is married with two sons while the other is a bachelor.  The married brother is letting the unmarried one raise one of his sons.  (And no, I can't picture that either, but different times, different customs.)
The two have different styles of raising children and that's where the most interesting part of the play comes up.  The farm brother is very hands on in guiding and raising while the city one says:
'Tis this then is the duty of a father,
To make a son embrace a life of virtue,
Rather from choice than terror or constraint.
Here lies the might difference between
A father and a master. He who knows not
How to do this, let him confess he knows not
How to rule children.
This sets up the plot as the brothers end up in a very sit-com type plot of mistaken intentions and money paid for wives.  But, no fear, eventually the mistakes are cleared up and weddings abound.  The 'loose-ruled' brother speaks again:
     In these youths I see
The marks of virtue; and, I trust, they'll prove
Such as we wish them. They have sense, I know;
Attention; in its season, liberal shame;
And fondness for each other; all sure signs
Of an ingenuous mind and noble nature:
And though they stray, you may at any time
Reclaim them.
 This is a reasonable set of goals for a parent to set for their children.  I'd be very happy if my three qualify in all respects. 

Did I like it?  It's an ok play, but nothing special.  This is probably one where there is some large benefit from actually seeing a production rather than reading it cold.  (This is true of a very many ancient play.)  I would mostly recommend Terence for historical value, in much the same way that I would Lope de Vega.  In other words, if you find one of his plays in an anthology or elsewhere, go ahead and read it.  It won't be life changing but it will let you better understand just how the entire Dramatic experience got from there to here.

Next up is #93, 'Awake and Sing' by Clifford Odets.  I have now gotten my mitts on a copy of #96, 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' but I've already started the Odets so I'll come back for it.  My (very loose) plan is to try and power ahead until I get to the point where this is one play per month.  Hopefully by this fall.  My hope is that will make it easier for others to join in.

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