- The play is set in Ephesus, outside the houses of Pyrgopolynices (soldier) and Periplectomenus (old neighbour). In the opening scene of the play we meet Pyrgopolynices and his right-hand man, Pyrgopolynices is very boastful, and we are left in no doubt about what his character is like. His right-hand man, Artotrogus, also remindes him about the effects of his devistatingly good looks-he is besieged by women.
- The prologue then follows this scene, where Plautus gives the audience the relevant information for them to fully understand the plot of the play. The prologue is delivered by Palaestrio, a slave of pyrgopolynices. Palaestrio informs the audience that his master, who has just gone to the forum, had abducted the love, Philoconasium, from his previous master, Pleusicles, from Athens. As soon as Palaestrio heard of this news, he had got into a boat and was travelling to tell his young master the news (his master was away from Athens at this time). However, his boat was captured by pirates, and he was given to Pyrgopolynices as a present from the pirates. On arriving at his new master's house, he was astounded to find out that his master was the same man who had abducted Philoconasium. Palaestrio secretly wrote to his former master to inform him.
- Having recieved this secret letter, the young man, Pseusicles, has arrived in Ephesus and is staying at the soldier's neighbour, Periplectomenus. In order to let the lovers meet, Palaestrio has cut a walkway through the two houses.
- Periplectomenus meets Palaestrio and tells him that he is worried-someone has been spotted on his roof, and has seen Philoconasium and Pseusicles kissing. Palaestrio thinks very carefully, and comes up with a plan: they are to pretend that Philoconasium has a twin sister, who is staying at Periplectomenus' house and who has a lover. The slave from the roof must be made to believe that it was this identical twin sister that he saw, not Philoconasium.
- Palaestrio discovers that it was a slave called Sceledrus who had been on the roof, and begins to try and persuade him otherwise. He brings Philoconasium from the boastful soilder's house, when Sceledrus is convinced that she…