Their topics include sententiousness in Roman comedy: a moralizing reading, Plautus undoing himself: what is funny and what is Plautine in Stichus and Trinummus, basket case: material girl and animate object in Plautus' Cistellaria, when reason surrenders its authority: Thyestes' approach to Atreus' palace, Petronian spectacles: the Widow of Ephesus
generically revisited, and Seneca's Thyestes: three female translators into English.
Reenacting the "Widow of Ephesus" legend which forms his central source and citing the idiom of performance so visible in conductbooks for widows, Chapman engages in but also challenges cultural efforts to locate a widow's meaning by pressing the relationship between her affect and performativity tout court.
"The Widow of Ephesus," the scandalous classical story behind Chapman's play, is the perfect paradigm of this fixation with a widow's performance of grief.
With its extensive borrowing from Petronius's version of the legend of the widow of Ephesus, as well as its echoes of Homer's Penelope and Ulysses, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Hamlet (and possibly Othello), (29) its fascination with suspicion and constancy also looks toward the tragicomedies of Beaumont and Fletcher.
McGlathery's essay, "The Tomb of Epic: Bakhtinian Parody and Petronius' Tale of the Widow of Ephesus
," demonstrates how Bakhtin's notion of the "ancient complex" of folk culture -- those aspects of human experience such as food, sex, and death and the physical site of the public square -- can be applied to Petronius' tale of the Widow of Ephesus
, and how such an application enhances the tale's "carnivalesque leveling of the 'high' and 'low' categories of human existence" (120).
Chapter 4, "Sex, Food, and Money: Low Themes versus High Scenarios," first examines Petrionius's famed Milesian tale, the story of the widow of Ephesus
. Conte notes a parallel between this tale and the episode of Encolpius's slaying of a goose sacred to Priapus: in both narratives the lower elements of sex, food, and money reduce the romance situation to a coarser banality.
The loose narrative framework encloses a number of independent tales, a classic instance being the famous "Widow of Ephesus
" (Satyricon, chapters 111-112).