Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Pseudolus was written by Titus Maccius Plautus and is one of the oldest plays that survives from ancient Rome. The play begins with a warning that it’s long. After that, the story opens with two characters named Calidorus and Pseudolus, who is the servant of a man named Simo, who is also Calidorus’s father from Athens.
The opening situation is that Calidorus is upset because he has a letter from his love, a slave woman named Phoenicium, that says that her master is going to sell her and tear her away from Calidorus. She asks Calidorus to buy her instead before the sale goes through, but Calidorus doesn’t have enough money.
Pseudolus assures Calidorus that he’ll just figure out some way to trick his own master, Simo, into giving them the money. A complex plot then follows, which involves creating a letter from the one who was supposed to buy Phoenicium originally. Pseudolus is able to get the sealed letter from a Macedonian soldier who is the voice for the original purchaser.
Then, Pseudolus gets a slave named Simia to deliver the sealed letter to Ballio along with money he got through a bet, convincing the slave-owner to give Phoenicium to Pseudolus.