PLIEUSICLES, a young Athenian, is in love with Philocomasium, a Courtesan of Athens, who returns his affection. Being sent on public business to Naupactus, a certain Captain of Ephesus, Pyrgopolinices by name, comes to Athens, and insinuates himself into the good graces of her mother, in order that he may get Philocomasium into his power. Having deceived the mother, he places the daughter on board ship and carries her off to Ephesus. On this, Palaestrio, a faithful servant of Pleusicles, hastens to embark for Naupactus, with the view of telling his master what has happened. The ship being taken by pirates, he is made captive, and by chance is presented as a gift to Pyrgopolinices. He recognizes the mistress of Pleusicles in the Captain’s house; but he carefully conceals from the Captain who he himself is. He then privately writes to Pleusicles, requesting him to come to Ephesus. On arriving, Pleusicles is hospitably entertained by Periplecomenus, a friend of his father, an old gentleman who lives next door to the Captain. As Philocomasium has a private room of her own in the Captain’s house, a hole is made through the partition wall, and by this contrivance, she meets Pleusicles in the house of his entertainer, who gives his sanction to the plan.
At this juncture, the play begins. A servant of the Captain, named Sceledrus, has been appointed to be the keeper of Philocomnasium. Pursuing a monkey along the roof of the house, he looks down the skylight of the house next door, and there sees Pleusicles and Philocomasium conversing and toying with each other. When this has been discovered to be the case, a plan is arranged, by which Sceledrus shall not only not divulge to the Captain what he has seen, but shall even be made to believe that he has not actually seen it himself. Palaestrio, therefore, persuades him that the twin-sister of Philocomasium has arrived at Ephesus, and with her lover is staying at their neighbour’s house. To forward their designs, Palaestrio then invents another plan. He persuades the Captain to believe that the wife of his neighbour, Periplecomenus, is in love with him. Through his agency, a Courtesan, named Acroteleutium, pretends that she is the wife so desperately in love with the Captain. he believes this story, and, that he may the more conveniently receive her in his house, by the advice of Palaestrio, he sends Philocomasium away and gives her into the charge of Pleusicles, who is disguised in the dress of a master of a ship. They go to the harbour and set sail, accompanied by Palaestrio, whom the Captain has given to Philocomasium at her request. The Captain, then, at the invitation of the maid of Acroteleutium, goes to the house next door, to visit her mistress. On this, Periplecomenus, with his servants, sallies forth upon him, and, having first threatened to cut him in pieces, and then having beaten and stripped him, they let him go, after they have exacted from him a confession that he has been rightly served, and a promise that he will molest no one in return for the treatment he has received.