Characters in 'Pseudolus'

Characters in 'Pseudolus', their importance and some key quotes

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  • Created by: Gemma
  • Created on: 01-05-12 15:56


Phoenicium is the love of Calidorus, but is a prostitute owned by the evil pimp, Ballio.

  • Stock character: she is the unobtainable girl who is being pursued/saved from Ballio
  • Mute: as a woman, she is of less importance than the male characters and so does not speak throughout the entire play
  • Plot: she drives the plot, as Calidorus is trying to save her, and so Pseudolus creates his plan
  • Comedy: Pseudolus insults her handwriting, calling it a 'chicken scratch'
  • Character development: Calidorus is completely love-struck (a stock character), which shows his helplessness in not being able to save her, 'I don't know where to turn for help to send her'. She also shows Ballio to be a cruel, abusive and greedy character in his behaviour towards her and his other slaves, 'see that my larder is stocked... or tomorrow, my Phoenician pet, your back will be striped with Phoenician colours and you'll be on the market too'
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Harpax is the emissary/messenger of Polymachaeroplagides, a Macedonian General, sent to give the money and seal to Ballio in exchange for Phoenicium.

  • Situational comedy: he provides the misunderstanding, deception and disguise in Pseudolus' plan to trick him- 'I'm not paying a penny to anyone but Ballio in person'- when really he gives the money to Pseudolus
  • Plot: he provides the complication of Pseudolus' plan in trying to get the seal in the first meeting and in turning up after Simia has already tricked Ballio- 'I've caught him in the act now, haven't I?'- no, Ballio, I believe you haven't.
  • Character development: he paints Pseudolus as untrustworthy- 'I'm not trusting you with any petty cash', highlighting the meaning of his name. He also shows Ballio to be an arrogant idiot in his gloating over Harpax's supposed disguise- 'How much- or how little- did Pseudolus get you for?... the one who put you up to this clever trick.'
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Calidorus (unfinished)

Calidorus is the love-struck young man who is Pseudolus' master. He is in love with Phoenicium but has no money to buy her.

  • Stock character: as the love-lorn boy, he is a typical stock character
  • Comedy: comic exaggerationis key; 'Oh Pseudolus, I am the most unhappy wretch alive' and he wants to hang himself when he can't have Phoenicium, 'All I can do is die- die of love and die of destitution'.
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