2017 William W. Cook Lecture • May 18, 2017 • 4:30 PM

Cancelled-Annual William W. Cook Lecture with James Tatum, Professor of Classics, Emeritus
The Department of English is proud to honor William W. Cook, Israel Evans Professor of Oratory and Belles Lettres and Professor of English, Emeritus, each year with this lecture.

Thursday, May 18, 2017
04:30 PM - 06:00 PM
Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Location: Dartmouth 105

James Tatum, the Aaron Lawrence Professor of Classics, Emeritus, Dartmouth College, and the Ad Hoc Players will present "Amphitryon 39? A Roman Comedy in Performance with Shakespeare's Othello." 


This is a performance piece interwoven with comments based on Shakespeare's Othello and the Roman comedy he appears to have drawn on to create that tragedy: Plautus' Amphitryon, a play that Plautus himself calls a mixture of comedy and tragedy, a "tragicomedy." The Amphitryon was one of the most influential of all ancient dramas, not least because an Italian humanist Ermolao Barbaro provided the text of its missing fourth act.

It was this version that was widely read in schools in Shakespeare's day, and the completed play flourished in this form until the 19th century and the rise of scientific textual criticism focused less on the history of Amphitryon productions and more on recovering the still missing fragments of the original text. It had inspired Moliere, Dryden and Friedrich von Kleist to write Amphitryon dramas on the same themes. Today Amphitryon remains a fragmentary text, not otherwise performable with its fourth act still missing.

Amphitryon 39 alludes to Jean Giraudoux's satirical 1929 comedy based on Plautus' work, Giraudoux's title being Amphitryon 38, as if his were the 38th version of a popular ancient play. The script interweaves alternating scenes from Othello and the Roman comedy that James Tatum believes Shakespeare drew on in his creation of that tragedy. Plautus will be heard in Tatum's new translation of Ermolao Barbaro's Amphitryon, played against scenes from the tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. Hence Amphitryon 39.

For more information on Professor Tatum, please visit https://classics.dartmouth.edu/people/james-tatum.


For more information, contact:

Bruch Lehmann