Miles Gloriosus

[mee-li-teyz glawr-ee-oh-see, glohr-]

Miles Gloriosus (literally, "famous or boastful soldier", in Latin) is a stock character from the drama, specifically comedy, of classical Rome, and variations on this character have appeared in drama and fiction ever since. The character derives from the "alazon" or "braggart" of the Greek Old Comedy (e.g. Aristophanes). The term "Miles Gloriosus" is occasionally applied in a contemporary context to refer to a posturing and self-deceiving boaster or bully.

Literary instances

In the play Miles Gloriosus by Plautus, the term applies to the main character Pyrgopolynices. This foolish Miles Gloriosus brags openly and often about his supposed greatness, while the rest of the characters feign their admiration and secretly plot against him. Heavily borrowing from Plautus, the Stephen Sondheim musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, contains a character by the name of Miles Gloriosus.

In Commedia dell'arte, the figure of Il Capitano is a miles gloriosus.


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