In Ephesus, ruled by Duke Solinus, Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse, stands trial for landing in a country where Syracusians are banned. Egeon explains how 23 years before he had lost his wife and one of their identical twin sons, with the boy’s companion, also an identical twin boy, in a storm at sea. Egeon had brought up the surviving boys but at eighteen they had gone in search of their lost brothers. Not hearing from them Egeon had also left home to seek news and has now arrived at Ephesus. Solinus is softened by the story and allows Egeon until sunset to try to raise 1000 marks ransom, or he must die. Meanwhile, in a nearby marketplace a merchant has befriended two tourists, Antipholus of Syracuse (Egeon’s son) and his servant companion, Dromio. Learning of the ban on Syracusians, they take on local dress before going to explore the town, where, unknown to them, their twin brothers have been living after being saved from the storm by fishermen who brought them up in Corinth.
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