CHARMIDES, a wealthy Athenian, his property having been much duninished by the reckless conduct of his son, goes abroad. His dissolute son, Lesbonicus, being left behind at Athens
, consumes the little resources left him, and then puts up his father's house for sale. At his departure, Charmides has entrusted his interests and the care of his son and daughter to his friend Callicles and has also informed him that in his house there is a treasure buried as a reserve against future contingencies. In order that this may not be lost, Cailicles buys the house of Lesbonicus for a small sum. Ignorant of his reason for doing so, his fellow-citizens censure him for his conduct, and accuse him of a breach of good faith in ministering to the extravagance of Lesbonicus by supplying him with money. For this reason Megaronides expostulates with his friend Callicles, and greatly censures him; on which, Callicles, in self-defence, entrusts him with the secret of the treasure. Charmides having left behind him a grown-up daughter in the care of Callicles, Lysiteles, a young man of rank and character, falls in love with her, and through his father, Philto, asks her in marriage. Her brother, Lesbonicus, is not averse to the match, but refuses to let her marry without giving her a portion; and he offers her to Lysiteles, on condition that he will receive as her marriage-portion a piece of land near the city, the sole remnant of his fortune. This, however, Lysiteles refuses to accept. In the mean time, Callicles, at the suggestion of Megaronides, determines to give the young woman a dowry out of the treasure buried in the house which he has bought; but that Lesbonicus may not suspect whence the money really comes, a Sharper is hired, with instructions to pretend that he brings letters from Charmides with a thousand gold pieces as a portion for his daughter when she should marry. It happens, that while the Sharper is on his way with his pretended errand to the abode of Callicles, Charmides, having unexpectedly returned to Athens
, is going towards his house. He meets the Sharper, who discloses his errand and attempts to impose upon Charmides, who thereupon discovers himself Charmides then meets his servant Stasimus, who tells him of the purchase of his house by Callicles, whereon he conceives himself to have been betrayed by his friend. Afterwards, on discovering the truth, he praises the fidelity of Callicles, and bestows his daughter on Lysiteles, with a portion of a thousand gold pieces, and, at the intercession of Lysiteles, he forgives his son Lesbonicus, and informs him that he is to be married to the daughter of Callicles.