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What is "Brothers Menaechmus" about?

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Quick Answer

Plautus's comedy play "Brothers Menaechmus" (perhaps better known as "Menaechmi" or "The Twin Brothers") follows the story of a man as he tracks down his twin. The two were close in early childhood but are accidentally separated at seven years old.

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Full Answer

The separation occurs due to the loss of one twin brother (Menaechmus) in a crowd at Tarentum, where his merchant father has taken him on a business trip. When the father returns home to Syracuse with the terrible news, the remaining twin, Sosicles, is renamed Menaechmus in his lost brother's honor.

When the boy reaches adulthood, he takes his slave, Messenio, in search of the original Menaechmus.

In Epidamnus, the original Menaechmus has been arguing with his wealthy wife. As a result, he steals one of her mantles to give to a courtesan named Erotium. While Erotium is preparing a feast for him, she sets her eyes on the other twin, formerly called Sosicles, who has arrived in town. She invites him to eat and gives him the stolen jewelry to have repaired for her.

Meanwhile, the original Menaechmus's wife has discovered that her mantle is missing and becomes hysterical, forcing her husband to go out and retrieve it. Erotium, however, is convinced that it is already in his possession. The twin she actually gave it to is later seen carrying the stolen mantle by the distraught wife, who has him arrested.

When the two twins are eventually reunited, it is the slave Messenio who points out their relation, thereby earning his freedom, while the brothers plan their return home to Syracuse.

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