Hecyra: The Mother-In-Law

Hecyra: The Mother-In-Law
By P. Terentius Afer
Translated by: Henry Thomas Riley
Ney York Harper and Brothers 1874

Perseus Documents Collection Table of Contents


Funded by The Annenberg CPB/Project

  LACHES,1 , an aged Athenian, father of Pamphilus.
PHIDIPPUS,2 an aged Athenian, father of Philumena.
PAMPHILUS,3 son of Laches.
SOSIA,4 servant of Pamphilus.
PARMENO,5 servant of Sostrata.
SOSTRATA,6 wife of Laches.
MYRRHINA,7 wife of Phidippus.
BACCHIS,8 a Courtesan.
PHILOTIS,9 a Courtesan.
SYRA, 10 a Procuress.

Scene.--Athens; before the houses of LACHES, PHIDIPPUS, and BACCHIS.


Scene subject


PAMPHILUS, the son of Laches by his wife Sostrata, being at the time enamored of Bacchis, a Courtesan, chances, one night, in a drunken fit, to debauch Philumena, the daughter of Phidippus and Myrrhina. In the struggle he takes a ring from her, which he gives to Bacchis. Some time afterward, at his father's express desire, he consents to marry. By chance the young woman whom he has ravished is given to him as a wife, to the great joy of her mother, who alone is aware of her misfortune, and hopes that her disgrace may be thereby concealed. It, however, happens otherwise ; for Pamphilus, still retaining his passion for Bacchis, refuses for some time to cohabit with her. Bacchis, however, now rejects the advances of Pamphilus, who by degrees becomes weaned from his affection for her, and grows attached to his wife, whom he has hitherto disliked. Meantime, however, he is suddenly called away from home. During his absence, Philumena, finding herself pregnant, in consequence of her misfortune before her marriage, fearing detection, especially avoids the company of her mother-in-law. At length she makes an excuse for returning to the home of her own parents, where she remains. Sostrata thereupon sends for her, but is answered that she is ill, on which she goes to see her, but is refused admittance to the house. On hearing of this, Laches blames his wife as being the cause of this estrangement. Pamphilus now returns, and it so happens that, on the day of his arrival, Philumena is brought to bed of a child. Impatient to see her, Pamphilus rushes into her room, and to his great distress finds that this is the case. Myrrhina thereupon entreats him to keep the matter secret, and begs him, if he refuses to receive her daughter back again, at least not to ruin her reputation by divulging it. As he now declines either to take back his wife or give his reason for so doing, Laches suspects that he is still enamored of Bacchis, and accordingly sends for her, and expostulates with her. She, however, exonerates herself; on which the old man, supposing that Philumena and her mother are equally ignorant with himself as to his son's motives, begs her to call on them and remove their suspicions. While she is conversing with them, they recognize the ring upon her finger which Pamphilus had formerly taken from Philumena. By means of this it is discovered that Pamphilus himself is the person who has ravished Philumena; on which, overjoyed, he immediately takes home his wife and son.