Mercator (play)

Mercator (play)

Written by Plautus
Characters Charinus
Setting Athens, before the houses of Demipho and Lysimachus

Mercator, or The Merchant, is a Latin comedic play for the early Roman theatre by Titus Maccius Plautus. It is based on a Greek play by the playwright Philemon.


A young man Charinus has fallen in love with Pasicompsa while on a business trip for his father, and he brings her back to Athens. Charinus' father Demipho shows up at the boat while it's still in the harbor with Pasicompsa on board, and Charinus is away. To explain the girl's presence, Acanthio, a slave of Charinus, makes up a story that Charinus bought her to be a slave for his mother.

Demipho falls for the girl as well and hatches a plot to get her for himself. He comes across his son and argues that he needs to sell the girl. Charinus has his friend Eutychus bid on the girl, however Demipho has his friend Lysimachus, the father of Eutychus, get the girl first. Upon hearing the news of Eutychus' failure, Charinus is distraught and considers leaving the country for good.

Meanwhile, Lysimachus takes Pasicompsa home with him temporarily until Demipho can arrange a better place for her to stay. Lysimachus' wife discovers the girl, and thinking Lysimachus is cheating on her, confronts her husband. Soon Eutychus discovers that Pasicompsa is at his house and brings Charinus. When Demipho discovers his son is in love with the girl, he gives up his attempt to obtain her for himself and Charinus gets her in the end.



  • Augoustakis, Antonios C. (comm.). Plautus Mercator. Bryn Mawr, PA: Bryn Mawr Commentaries, 2009 (Bryn Mawr Latin Commentaries).