(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Pleusicles, a young Athenian, is in love with and is loved by Philocomasium, a young woman of Athens. While he is away on public business in another city, a captain of Ephesus, Pyrgopolinices, comes to Athens and, in order to get Philocomasium into his power, works his way into the confidence of her mother. As soon as the opportunity presents itself, he abducts the daughter and carries her off to his home in Ephesus.

News of the abduction of Philocomasium soon reaches Pleusicles’ household, and Palaestrio, a faithful servant, immediately embarks for the city in which his master is staying, intending to tell him what happened. Unfortunately, however, Palaestrio’s ship is taken by pirates; he is made captive and is presented by chance to Pyrgopolinices as a gift. In the captain’s house, Palaestrio and Philocomasium recognize each other but tacitly agree to keep their acquaintance a secret.

Perceiving that the woman bears a violent hatred for Pyrgopolinices, Palaestrio privately writes to Pleusicles, suggesting that he come to Ephesus. When the young man arrives, he is hospitably entertained by Periplecomenus, an old gentleman who is a friend of Pleusicles’ father and who happens to live in a house adjoining that of Pyrgopolinices. Since Philocomasium has a private room in the captain’s house, a hole is made through the partition wall, enabling the two lovers to meet in the approving Periplecomenus’s house.

One day Sceledrus, a dull-witted servant appointed to be the keeper of Philocomasium, is chasing a monkey along the roof of the captain’s house when he happens to look through the skylight of the house next door and sees Pleusicles and Philocomasium at dalliance together. He is observed, however, and before he can report his discovery to the captain, Periplecomenus tells Palaestrio how matters stand. Palaestrio then develops an elaborate hoax to convince Sceledrus that he did not see what he thought he saw. Philocomasium is to return immediately through the hole in the wall and pretend never to have left the captain’s house. In addition, she is to make a reference at the proper time to a dream she had regarding the sudden advent in Ephesus of a pretended twin sister. This ruse is carried out before the ever more confused Sceledrus, Philocomasium first playing herself and then changing clothes, going through the...

(The entire section is 966 words.)