Although we do not know who wrote the Greek original of the Pseudolus or what it was called, we know with certainty when the Plautine play was first performed. The Ambrosian palimpsest has preserved a production notice that informs us that the comedy was staged at the Megalesian Games when Marcus Junius, the son of Marcus, was city praetor. This was in 191, toward the end of Plautus’ career. A decade earlier, in 204, when the Second Punic War was gradually coming to an end, the Romans, on the advice of the Delphic oracle, brought a sacred stone to Rome, a stone which, according to the inhabitants of Pessinus in Phrygia, was the manifestation of Cybele, the Great Mother or Megale Meter. The games in her honor, newly introduced and held every April, were called the Megalesia. Particularly impressive games were held in April 191, when her temple was finally finished, and it is on this occasion that the Pseudolus was first performed. The play is generally acknowledged as one of Plautus’ masterpieces and was still popular in the time of Cicero, who saw Roscius playing the pimp Ballio (Rosc. com. 7. 20).
Our manuscripts preserve the remains of a prologue (ll. 1–2), which in all likelihood was not written by Plautus himself; for although Plautus does occasionally refer to