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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Eunuch is a play by Terence, a Roman playwright who lived during the second century BC. The Eunuch is a play that deals with a common theme for Roman comedy: a cunning slave and a young love that transcends social class. The Athenian youth, Phaedria, loves a courtesan, Thais. Thais explains that she rejects his advances because of a plan she has underway to reclaim a slave of her mother’s who was purchased by one Thraso, whom she now tries to entrap. Phaedria goes away to the country to give Thais time to execute her plan, but sends him two of her salves: a female and a eunuch. Phaedria’s brother, Charea, is enamored of the female slave, and so asks to be sent to Thais in place of the eunuch. While there, he rapes her and runs away, ashamed. The female slave’s brother then finds out, and it is revealed that Phaedria’s brother impersonated the eunuch. Thais comes back from the country, and, when Thais’ servant taunts Phaedria’s slave by saying that Chaerea will be tortured for raping the slave girl. The slave tells their father, and he eventually agrees to let his older son wed the courtesan, when he is gladdened by the realization that this son Charea’s love interest, the slave woman, is in fact a free citizen, separated at infancy from her brother. As a final twist, and at the suggestion of his slave, Thais and Phaedria agree to continue to string Thraso along with Thais’ charms, as a means to extort money from him.

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