Auricula Meretricula is a modern play based upon the works of the Ancient Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence. Written by Ann Cumming and Mary Whitlock Blundell in 1981, it was made as a play for first-year Latin students. The authors' main goal in writing the play was to aid in their teaching of the Latin course, which revolved primarily around the efficient but dull Wheelock's Latin Grammar.
The heroine of the story, her name literally means "little gold prostitute", i.e. she is a young blonde prostitute. Ballio is her pimp.
The antagonist. His last name means "pimp". He owns Auricula.
His last name means "young man". He is a poor poet and Auricula's lover.
Marcus's slave. His name implies that he is false and untrustworthy.
A female slave and Pseudolus's girlfriend.
A female pimp; Lena is the feminine form of Leno.
A soldier. His name implies that he has fighting prowess.
His last name means "parasite"; he is a leech, a mooch.
Marcus's father. His last name means "old man".
A rich old man. His last name also means "old man".
Auricula Meretricula tells the story of a young prostitute named Auricula. In the opening scene, her greedy pimp, Ballio, demands money from her, but she has none. Ballio is shocked when Auricula tells him that she is in love with a poor poet named Marcus. In scene II, Auricula tells Marcus of her situation. Scene III opens with Ballio rudely interrupting the lovers. He informs Auricula that he has sold her "services" to a soldier, at which point Pseudolus hurls insults at him. Ballio takes the insults as compliments and then promises to kill Marcus if he ever sees the lovers together again. In Scene IV, Pseudolus, trying to help his master, turns to Dolia, his girlfriend, for help. Afterwards, in scene V, the play follows Laurina and Auricula as Laurina explains to Auricula her philosophy that true love is not valuable. Pugnax then arrives to claim Auricula in scene VI. Edax accompanies him, and has a conversation with Marcus. In scene VII, Pugnax, trying to find Auricula, finds Dolia instead. Dolia then fools Pugnax into loving her, thereby saving Auricula's and Marcus's relationship, or so it seems. Silex, Marcus's father, arrives in scene VIII and tells Marcus of his approaching marriage (Roman marriage was frequently arranged); Marcus protests, saying that he is in love, but his father refuses. The scene ends with Marcus saying that he must hang himself, but that first he must buy rope. In scene IX, Malacus Senex visits the brothel of Ballio, where he discovers Auricula. He is initially interested in purchasing her, but after seeing a ring on her hand, Malacus realizes that Auricula is actually his daughter, whom he lost 10 years prior in a storm. The final scene, scene X, shows an inebriated Malacus comforting Ballio on his financial loss.
Auricula Meretricula was written as a simple Plautian play. It intentionally has many similarities to the works of Plautus. The playwrights make obvious use of Plautus' stock character, such as the clever slave (Dolia) and the old men (there are two old men character-types in Plautus' works).