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image of Mnemosyne

The present article deals with the way in which Plautus uses the legal language and practice of his own day in his comedy, Trinummus, for his literary purposes as a comic dramatist. The paper investigates in the first place some brief references to divorce, the hereditas sine sacris and loans given by slaves, and then examines three main legal problems of the comedy, i.e., mandatum, sponsio and dos. The article argues for the legal character of the mandatum between Charmides and Callicles, as well as for the lack of legal validity of Lesbonicus' and Lysiteles' transactions and examines the way such legal actions are used by Plautus for intensifying the comic outcome. It concludes that Plautus uses legal language as a means for character delineation, character motivation and plot development.


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