Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse are a set of twins who have been separated for some twenty-five years. Antipholus of Ephesus is the older, and Antipholus of Syracuse is the younger.
Antipholus of Syracuse has been raised by his father, Aegeon, a merchant of some good wealth. Due to his being away from home, Antipholus of Syracuse is presented as curious when he arrives in Ephesus, telling his servant he will “lose [himself] and wander up and down to view the city” (act 1, scene 2) despite being weary with travel. He has traveled to Ephesus with the purpose of finding his long-lost brother as well as his mother. He began asking about his lost twin and mother several years prior to the time of the play, and this longing has made him a lonely and melancholy man. These emotions are presented in his many soliloquies and asides.
Antipholus of Ephesus has been raised by his mother, Aemilia, who is the abbess of a nunnery, and he therefore likely grew up with little money. However, when he is introduced in act 3, he appears to be a man of some stature—though this seems to be due to his wife, Adriana. When Antipholus of Syracuse is mistakenly being spoken to as Antipholus of Ephesus by Luciana, Adriana’s sister, she says, “if you did wed my sister for her wealth” (act 3, scene 2). This is one indication that Antipholus of Ephesus cares not for his former family, but only about obtaining wealth and a better life for himself at anyone else’s expense. He has no time for deep thought or emotion, having no soliloquies in the entire play, while his brother has at least six.
The two brothers share one unfortunate trait, that being their proneness to violence. When their servants (also a set of separated twins, both named Dromio) make mistakes, both Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse choose to beat their servants in rage. Both respond this way in situations created by the many mix-ups that happen throughout the play, and it seems that, due to the confusion, they lash out at their servants in their embarrassment. However, Dromio of Ephesus, slave to Antipholus of Ephesus, states that he has always been beaten by his master:
... I have served him from the hour of my
nativity to this instant, and have nothing at his
hands for my service but blows. When I am cold, he
heats me with beating; when I am warm, he cools me
with beating ... (Act 4, scene 4)
There is no mention as specific as this stated by Dromio of Syracuse, and therefore no proof that Antipholus of Syracuse is usually abusive or has become as such in these strange situations. Antipholus of Syracuse claims his beatings are justified with a background of (clearly misunderstood) Christian morals, while Antipholus of Ephesus seems to beat with no motivator other than wickedness.