Cistellaria, or The Casket

Cistellaria, or The Casket
By T. Maccius Plautus
Translated by: Henry Thomas Riley
London G. Bell and Sons 1912

Perseus Documents Collection Table of Contents


Funded by The Annenberg CPB/Project

  THE GOD OF HELP, who speaks the Prologue in the Second Act.
DEMIPHO, a merchant of Lemnos.
ALCESIMARCHUS, a young man of Sicyon.
LAMPADISCUS, servant of Demipho.
PHANOSTRATA, wife of Demipho.
SILENIUM, their daughter, beloved by Alcesimarchus.
MELAENIS, a Procuress.
HAITSCA, her servant.
A PROCURESS, the mother of Gymnasium.
GYMNASIUM, a Courtesan.

Scene.-Sicyon, in Peloponnesus. Before the houses of DEMIPHO, SILENIUM, and the father of ALCESIMARCHUS.

Act intro


Scene subject


DEMIPHO, a merchant of Lemnos, having ravished Phanostrata, a young woman of Sicyon, she is brought to bed of a female child. This she gives to her servant Lampadiscus, to be exposed. On this being done, in the sight of Lampadiscus, a Procuress picks up the infant, and afterwards makes a present of it to her friend Melnis, by whom it is brought up, under the name of Silenium. Alcesimarchus, a young man of Sicyon, falls violently in love with her, and takes her under his protection. In the meantime, Demipho, who has married another wife, after her death marries Phanostrata, and comes to live at Sicyon. He and his wife are then anxious, if possible, to regain their lost child. The daughter of Demipho by his first wife is destined by her father to become the wife of Alcesimarchus; on hearing which, Melnis removes her foster-child from his protection. At this conjuncture Lampadiscus finds out the Procuress that had taken up the infant when exposed, and from her discovers that the child of his mistress is with Melnis. He informs his mistress of this, while Melnis is, unknown to them, standing by; upon which she determines to confess the truth, and to restore Silenium to her parents. While she is thinking upon this plan, Alcesimarchus lays hands on Silenium, and carries her off to his father's house. In the confusion attendant on this, Halisca, the servant of Melnis, drops a casket in the street, containing some trinkets which had been worn by Silenium at the time when she was exposed. Phanostrata and Lampadiscus find the casket, and on Halisca coming to search for it, they discover where Silenium is. They go into the house, and Phanostrata discover her long-lost child.