Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Pamphila, the daughter of a respected but miserly Athenian citizen, is raped by a drunken young man of ordinarily good behavior during the night festival of the Tauropolia. The only clue she has to his identity is a signet ring that he leaves in her possession. A short time later, Pamphila is married to the young man, an Athenian named Charisius; Smicrines, her father, provides a good dowry for his idealistic but rather priggish son-in-law. Pamphila, who soon begins to love her husband, gives birth to her child during his absence and, acting on the advice of her nurse Sophrona, exposes the infant and leaves with the baby a pouch containing assorted tokens, including the ring. Charisius, learning of the birth from his servant Onesimus, decides that the child cannot be his. Instead of repudiating Pamphila, however, he leaves home and begins to waste his substance in rich feasts given at the home of his friend Chaerestratus, who lives next door. Pamphila is distracted because the husband she loves deserts her for the company of hired dancing girls and harp players.
That is the way matters stand when Smicrines comes to investigate reports of Charisius’s conduct; he hears that his son-in-law is spending every night for a hired harp player a sum sufficient to feed a slave for a month. Just before his arrival a conceited, loud-mouthed cook named Carion, on his way to prepare a meal in the house of Chaerestratus, vainly questions Charisius’s servant Onesimus...
(The entire section is 1058 words.)
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