Phormio (FOHR-mee-oh), a crafty and cynical young Athenian lawyer, a self-styled parasite who resolves to straighten out the romantic difficulties of two young cousins, Antipho and Phaedria, whose fathers are abroad. With Phormio’s connivance, Antipho marries Phanium, a penniless young woman of good family. When the fathers, Demipho and Chremes, return, they bribe Phormio to marry Phanium and thus free Antipho from his imprudent union. Phormio betrays the uncles and gives part of the money to Phaedria to buy Pamphilia, a slave with whom he has fallen in love. The uncles discover that Antipho’s wife is actually Chremes’ daughter by a secret marriage to a woman of Lemnos. They now approve the match and demand their money back from Phormio. When they insist, Phormio tells Chremes’ wife Nausistrata of the earlier marriage. She upbraids Chremes, tells Phormio to keep the money, and invites him to supper. Antipho and Phaedria are left happy with the women they love.
Geta (GEE-tuh), Demipho’s shrewd servant, Phormio’s accomplice in helping the young men and defrauding their fathers.
Demipho (DEH-mif-foh), Antipho’s father and Chremes’ brother. Pompous, class-conscious, and somewhat miserly, old Demipho wishes to revoke his son’s marriage because it offers no dowry....
(The entire section is 445 words.)