The Comedy of Errors

The Roman dramatist Plautus (c. 254 - 184 BC) used the device of long-lost twin brothers, whose identities are confused, in his play the Menaechmi. One of the twins arranges to have dinner with a courtezan but his brother enjoys the meal instead. Shakespeare's development of a double set of twins, the Dromio servants and the Antipholus masters, allows additional confusion to occur and thereby enriches his entertainment.

Another play by Plautus, the Amphitruo, provides the double master-servant theme and the idea of the husband locked out of his own house, mirrored by Shakespeare when Antipholus of Ephesus is kept out of the house while his twin brother is inside.

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Shakespeare's sources
Annotated list of links to online versions of works used as sources for the plays. From the Shakespeare section of the About Network guide.