CHREMES and DEMIPHO are two aged Athenians, brothers. Nausistrata, the wife of Chremes, is a wealthy woman, possessed of large estates in the island of Lemnos. Chremes, who goes thither yearly to receive the rents, meets with a poor woman there, whom he secretly marries, and has by her a daughter called Phanium: while engaged in this intrigue, Chremes passes at Lemnos by the name of Stilpho. By his wife, Nausistrata, at Athens, Chremes has a son, named Phaedria, and his brother has a son, named Antipho. Phanium having now arrived at her fifteenth year, the two brothers privately agree that she shall be brought to Athens and married to Antipho. For this purpose, Chremes goes to Lemnos, while Demipho is obliged to take a journey to Cilicia. On departing, they leave their sons in the care of Geta, one of Demipho's servants. Shortly afterward, Phaedria falls in love with a Music-girl, but, from want of means, is unable to purchase her from her owner. In the mean time, the Lemnian wife of Chremes, urged by poverty, embarks for Athens, whither she arrives with her daughter and her nurse. Here they inquire for Stilpho, but in vain, as they can not find any one of that name. Shortly after, the mother dies, and Antipho, seeing Phanium by accident, falls in love with her. Being wishful to marry her, he applies to Phormio, a Parasite, for his advice. The latter hits upon the following scheme: there being a law at Athens, which obliges the next-of-kin to female orphans, either to marry them or give them a portion, the Parasite pretends that he is a friend of Phanium, and insists that Antipho is her nearest relation, and is consequently bound to marry her. Antipho is summoned before a court of justice, and it being previously arranged, allows judgment to be given against himself, and immediately marries Phanium. Shortly after, the old men return upon the same day, and are much vexed, the one on finding that his son has married a woman without a fortune, the other that he has lost the opportunity of getting his daughter advantageously married. In the mean time, Phaedria being necessitated to raise some money to purchase the Music-girl, Geta and Phormio arrange that the former shall pretend to the old man that Phormio has consented to take back the woman whom Antipho has married, if Demipho will give her a portion of thirty mine. Demipho borrows the money of Chremes, and pays it to Phormio, who hands it over to Phaedria, and Phaedria to Dorio, for his mistress. At this conjuncture, it becomes known who Phanium really is, and the old men are delighted to find that Antipho has married the very person they wished. They attempt, however, to get back the thirty minae from Phormio, and proceed to threats and violence. On this, Phormio, who has accidentally learned the intrigue of Chremes with the woman of Lemnos, exposes him, and relates the whole story to his wife, Nausistrata; on which she censures her husband for his bad conduct, and the Play concludes with her thanks to Phormio for his information.

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