Stage Directions

by Ross Wilson

Wellington School, Columbus OH


When reading the Aulularia, we must remember that the only part of this

great comedy that has survived is the text itself. This may seem like the

only important part, but the play was meant to be experienced through the

more exciting medium of live action. The text we have today consists of

only the dialogue, but does not include the stage directions, physical

actions, or emotional displays that would be necessary to bring the play

into the world of the stage.

The Aulularia is an exciting, fast-paced, and wild comedy. To read the

dialogue alone of this play is not enough to understand the full effect the

play was meant to have. Truly, a lot of the humor in this play is

word-oriented; puns and the like often get a laugh from the audience, but a

substantial amount of the jokes are action-oriented. In one of the very

first scenes Euclio is seen beating his old slave-woman mercilessly; later

in the play cooks, lambs, and flute girls are frenziedly herded back and

forth in hopes to balance out the arrangements of two weddings. And it is

not only the action that is lost when stage directions are not present;

some of the dialogue can be confusing at face value. For instance, Euclio

has a long section of monologue, where he keeps asking questions such as

"Where is the thief who took my gold"? or "Which way did he go"? to an

unknown person. It turns out that Euclio goes into the audience at this

point and is questioning the actual audience about the whereabouts of the

thief. This is an extremely funny scene, but without stage directions it

can be simply confusing. Another way that stage directions are helpful is

in pointing out which parts of the dialogue are asides or aloud. A great

many times Euclio goes off into his own little world, obsessing over his

gold and its security, leaving the other characters wondering what he is

whispering to himself about.

I have prepared Act IV, scene 9, with my own stage directions, so that

you can enjoy all the aspects of the play, not just the dialogue.


Act IV, Scene 9 - With stage directions

Act IV

Scene 9


(Euclio enters, frantically running back and forth)


Euclio: (stabbing at his heart with an imaginary knife with each of the

next three words) Perii interii occidi. (running all the way to one side of

the stage) quo curram? (running all the way to the other side of the stage)

quo non curram? (stops dead in his tracks) tene, tene. quem? quis? nescio,

nil video, (Euclio covers his eyes with one hand, while groping around as

if in the dark with the other) caecus eo atque equidem quo eam aut ubi sim

aut qui sim nequeo cum animo certum investigare. (He steps off the stage,

down into the audience, making praying motions to them with his hands)

obsecro vos ego, (falling to his knees in the midst of the audience) mi

auxilio, oro obtestor, sitis et hominem demonstretis, quis eam abstulerit.

quid est? (looking around in horror at the laughter of the audience) quid

ridetis? (tone of voice now changes from complaint to suspicion) novi

omnes, (pointing out members of the audience one after another) scio fures

esse hic complures, qui vestitu et creta occultant sese atque sedent quasi

sint frugi. (Euclio approaches a man in the audience, possibly a Senator)

quid ais tu? (Euclio examines the man's face and talks to him up close)

tibi credere certum est, nam esse bonum ex voltu cognosco. (when there is

no response, Euclio steps back in awe, incredulous) hem, nemo habet horum?

(Euclio emphatically throws his arms into the air) occidisti. (Euclio

approaches another member of the audience) dic igitur, quis habet? nescis?

(Euclio makes his way back up to the stage and sits down, holding his head

in his hands in grief) heu me miserum, misere perii, male perditus, pessime

ornatus eo: tantum gemiti et mali maestitiaeque hic dies mi optulit, famem

et pauperiem. (continues emphatic gestures) perditissimus ego sum omnium in

terra; nam quid mi opust vita, qui tantum auri perdidi, quod concustodivi

sedulo? (Euclio's cries grow into blaring wails) egomet me defraudavi

animumque meum geniumque meum; anunc eo alii laetificantur meo malo et

damno. pati nequeo.


(Lyconides enters from the house of Megadorus)


Lyconides: (aside) Quinam homo hic ante aedis nostras eiulans conqueritur


(Lyconides catches sight of Euclio and draws back in horror) atque hic

quidem Euclio est, ut opinor. oppido ego interii: palamst res, scit

peperisse iam, ut ego opinor, filiam suam. (Lyconides hurriedly paces back

and forth, weighing his options) nunc mi incertumst abeam an maneam, an

adeam an fugiam. (with distress in his voice) quid agam edepol nescio.