Mercator, or The Merchant

Mercator, or The Merchant
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

  DEMIPHO, an aged Athenian.
LYSIMACHUS, an aged Athenian.
CHARINUS, son of Demipho, in love with Pasicompsa.
EUTYCHUS, son of Lysimachus.
ACANTHIO, the servant of Charinus.
PASICOMPSA, a young woman beloved by Charinus.
DORIPPA, the wife of Lysimachus.
SYRA, an old woman, her servant.
PERISTRATA, 1 the wife of Demipho.
LYCISSA, her attendant.


Scene.--Athens; before the houses of LYSIMACHUS and DEMIPHO which are adjacent to each other.

Act intro


Scene subject


THIS Play (which is thought by some not to have been the composition of Plautus) describes the follies of a vicious old man and his son. Two years before the period when the Play opens, Charinus has been sent by his father Demipho to traffic at Rhodes. Returning thence, he brings with him a young woman, named Pasicompsa, who is in reality his mistress, but whom he pretends to have purchased for the purpose of her being an attendant upon his mother. Demipho, in the absence of his son, goes down to the ship, and seeing the young woman there, falls desperately in love with her. He then pretends to Charinus that she is too handsome to be brought into the house as a servant, and that she must be sold again. Insisting upon this, he persuades his friend, Lysimachus, to purchase her for him in his own name, and to take her to his own house. This being done, and the damsel brought to the house, the wife of Lysimachus unexpectedly returns home from the country, and finds her there. In the meanwhile, Charinus, being reduced to despair on losing his mistress, determines to leave the country. His friend Eutychus, the son of Lysimachus, having discovered his friend's mistress in his father's house, stops him just as he is about to depart, and informs him where she has been found. He then reconciles his own parents, and the Play concludes with his very just censure of Demipho for his vicious conduct.