Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Basilius is the powerful duke of Arcadia, a quiet and peaceful province of Greece. He rules his faithful subjects happily and well. Overcome by an ungovernable curiosity to learn what the future holds for his family—Gynecia, his wife, and their beautiful daughters Pamela and Philoclea—he consults the Oracle at Delphos. There he is told that his older daughter, Pamela, will be stolen from him and that his younger daughter will engage in an unsuitable love affair and his wife will commit adultery. Also a foreign ruler will sit upon his throne—all within a year.
Basilius repeats the prophecy to his friend Philanax, whom he has left in charge of the country while he, in an effort to escape the destiny foretold by the Oracle, has taken his wife and daughters into a secluded part of the country to live for the year. Basilius lives in one of two lodges with his wife and Philoclea; in the other, he puts Pamela under the care of Dametas, a rude shepherd of whose honesty Basilius has a high opinion.
Shortly after the duke’s retirement, two young princes, Pyrocles and Musidorus, arrive in Arcadia. Reared together in close friendship, these young men of great courage, personal beauty, and integrity have been swept ashore at Lydia after experiencing a shipwreck and many strange adventures as well as performing many daring and honorable acts.
Pyrocles sees a picture of Philoclea, learns of her enforced retirement, and falls in love with...
(The entire section is 1432 words.)
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