This Latin play is a translation and adaptation of the Greek play (since lost) EMPOROS by Philemon.
A young man has been spending his father''s money much too lavishly on a courtesan he fell in love with. His father upbraids him, and sends him off on a trading voyage, which the son completes very successfully -- but he buys a beautiful young slave girl to be his mistress. She is as much in love with him as he is with her, but he is afraid of offending his father if his father finds out he has a mistress -- rightly, it turns out. His father goes to the ship and falls instantly in love with the girl. When he asks his son''s servants whose she is, the servant says that his son bought her to be an attendant to the boy''s mother. The old man says she is unsuitable (too beautiful, for one thing), and urges his son to sell her. (The old man wishes to buy her himself). He has a friend go to bid on her for him; the son does the same, but his representative is too late -- the girl has already been sold. His father''s friend takes the girl in, but the man''s wife comes home and thinks the girl is HIS mistress. They fight. He leaves to get the boy''s father, who can clear him of the charge of taking the girl as his mistress. Meanwhile, the man''s son, broken-hearted, has decided to go into exile. His friend, who in the father''s friend''s son, finds the girl at his own house and gets the boy back together with his sweetheart. The father comes back, and is persuaded to give the girl to his son.
There is a great deal of banter on the subject of love being a very bad thing for your pocketbook and your peace of mind, and about old men being fools to chase after young women. There is a "law" announced at the end: that all men of age must be subject to censure if they go wenching, nor can old men keep their young sons from having love affairs and mistresses.