Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 193
Context: Epidicus, a wily slave, is commissioned to buy his master a dancing girl, but the trickster also convinces the master's father that the girl is his own daughter, and thus collects a double fee. The youth's affections in the meantime go to another girl, whom the slave buys by selling the first. Coincidentally, the second girl proves to be the long-lost daughter, to the chagrin of the young son who now has a half sister instead of a mistress. The father, Periphanes, muses to himself the value of friends who help him resolve his problem, although the irony is that they really are tricking him. The proverb reached its present form in English through Hazlitt's famous English Proverbs: "A friend in need is a friend indeed."
PERIPHANES (to himself)
A friend in need is the finest thing a man can have. With no labor on your part, your wishes are carried out just the same. If I had employed for this business some fellow less skilled and less clever in tricks of this sort, I'd have been nicely hoodwinked, and then my son could show his white teeth and laugh at me. . . .