The play joins the ranks of Shakespeare and “Tootsie” in using mistaken identities to provide quick laughs.
Pseudolus, a slave in the household Senex and the property of Hero, is anxious to obtain his freedom. To do so, he will resort to all kinds of trickery. What follows is a convoluted storyline involving Philia, a lovely but dumb courtesan-in-training; Senex, a lecherous old man Philia thinks has purchased her; Hero, who wants her; Miles Gloriosus, the “vainglorious” soldier who does own her; fellow slave Hysterium and ex-wife Domino, both of whom dress like Philia for different reasons; and Pseudolus, who does his best keeping the three Philias from seeing each other.
In the end it is discovered that the real Philia and Miles Gloriosus are long-lost brother and sister, the kidnapped children of Erronius. Since they are siblings, Miles Gloriosus voids his contract for Philia, and she is found of sufficient high birth to become Hero’s bride. And, of course, the scheming Pseudolus wins his freedom.
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E-mail Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.