Description of my work in relation to “Shifting Baselines”

“Among other aspects of daily Roman life which were shown by Plautus on stage, numerous religious practices are a discernable part of his plays. This is no coincidence, as rituals were an essential component of Roman everyday life. They were regulated by law and an important part of all events, concerning both the private as well as the public sphere. Focusing on the fact that rituals consist of verbal and physical elements, which have to be contextualized accordingly, and considering that they evoke certain cognitive and emotional aspects in the people involved, my research concentrates on drama-inherent performative elements as well as on questions related to the concrete reception processes in the frame of the Roman ludic theatre. The concept of resonance offers a new and comprehensive approach to this problem and opens up new perspectives on the role of rituals in the theatre of Plautus, be it on the level of theatric performance or regarding the question of the contemporary recipients. In the time of the mid-Republic, when Rome became not just a relevant, but the dominant political, military as well as cultural factor in the Mediterranean, it came into direct contact with other cultures of the region. As a result, new cultural nodes were formed and new perspectives, practices and cognitive horizons established. Roman literature in general and specifically the comedies of Plautus arose from one of these intertwining points of different cultural influences. The staged plays of Plautus with their everyday character therefore offer an insight into how gradual, imperceptible changes led to shifting baselines in the Roman culture at a time when not only its military and political machinery, but also its cultural sphere – often through appropriation of foreign elements – established hegemony over the ancient Mediterranean.”