Epidicus is an ancient Roman play written by T. Maccius Plautus. It is said to be one of Plautus's favorite works. Epidicus is the name of the main character, who is a slave. The plot takes many turns as Epidicus tries to please his master's son, Stratippocles. The main plot was based upon a Greek play, however the story line was changed in order to prevent a brother from marrying his half-sister. This change was made because Romans considered this incest, which deeply disturbed them; the Greeks, however, were not bothered by this.
Epidicus (slave to Periphanes)
- Periphanes – an aged Athenian who has a son in wedlock, Stratippocles. Had a relationship with a Theban woman, Philippa and had an illegitimate daughter, Telestis, who lives with her mother in Thebes.
- Stratippocles – son of Periphanes, is summoned to war in Thebes between the Athenians and Thebans. Has his slave, Epidicus, purchase a slave girl, Acropolistis, before he leaves for war. Once in Thebes, falls in love with another girl, Telestis, whom he purchases on borrowed money.
- Philippa – formerly seduced by Periphanes. A woman of Thebes who has an illegitimate daughter, Telestis.
- Epidicus – slave to Periphanes.
- Telestis – illegitimate daughter of Periphanes and Philippa.
- Acropolistis – first girl that Stratippocles falls in love with; plays as if she is Periphanes' daughter
Epidicus is a slave who looks only to please those he serves. In the play, Epidicus tricks his master, Periphanes, out of a sum of money in order to purchase a female slave, Acropolistis, that the master's son, Stratippocles, has fallen in love with. Epidicus does this by convincing Periphanes that this girl is his daughter from Philippa, whom he hasn't seen in many years, and has been captured in Thebes and brought to Athens. Believing this young woman is his daughter, Periphanes willingly hands over the money. Stratippocles soon goes off to war and falls in love with a different woman while away. To purchase this new woman, Stratippocles borrows forty mince from a banker. When Stratippocles returns home, he vows not to meet with his father until the debt is paid back to the banker. To accomplish this, Stratippocles tells Epidicus to accumulate the money, and if he cannot do so he will be severely punished. To convince Periphanes to give him more money, Epidicus tells his master that his son is about to purchase a singing-girl, Acropolistis, in order to marry her. Epidicus states that he needs to purchase her before his son can so that this can be avoided. Eventually, Periphanes decides to give his slave the money. Once the money is received, Epidicus uses it to pay off the banker. Epidicus then purchases a different singing-girl to act as if she were Acropolistis. A captain who is enamored with Acropolistis comes to Periphanes home in hopes of convincing Epidicus to allow him to gain custody of her. However, when the captain shows up he realizes that the singing-girl is not Acropolistis, but instead a fraud (all the while, the real Acropolistis is presented to Periphanes as his daughter, Telestis). While this is occurring, Philippa shows up at Periphanes home looking for her daughter since she heard she was brought to Athens. Periphanes assures Philippa that their daughter, Telestis, is safe inside. When Telestis is presented to Philippa, she instantly knows it is not her daughter and is a fraud (the real acropolistis). Epidicus is soon confronted about his double deceit and is to be severely punished. However, the woman that Stratippocles purchased while away is brought to Periphanes home with her former master, ready to be given to Stratippocles. When the young slave girl walks in, Philippa recognizes her to be her daughter, Telestis. Overwhelmed and confused, Periphanes finally meets his daughter for the first time. Stratippocles, upset about the loss of his "love" due to her being his half-sister, is "comforted" by Acropolistis (the original girl which he had Epidicus purchase for him). Epidicus is quickly forgiven his trickery and is set free because he helped reunite a father and daughter.