The Epidicus is one of several comedies named after a clever slave who helps his young master to trick the head of the household. The head of household in our play is a former Athenian soldier called Periphanes. Periphanes has a daughter, Telestis, with Philippa, a woman he loves. But Philippa is not his wife and does not live with him; Telestis was conceived in Epidaurus and born in Thebes, and Periphanes has not seen her since she was a baby, though Epidicus has been sent occasionally to see Philippa and Telestis. Telestis was taken prisoner in a war between Athens and Thebes and is now being brought to Athens. Philippa immediately contacted Periphanes to tell him that she is also coming to Athens in order to find her daughter.
We are told very little about the affair between Periphanes and Philippa, not even whether it took place before or after he married another woman in Athens. Periphanes never got along with his Athenian wife, who died some time ago but left him a son, Stratippocles. Periphanes is afraid of confessing his old affair and still-existing love to his son, even though his pompous but not very intelligent friend Apoecides tells him that there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Stratippocles is far less successful as a soldier than his