Egeon is an old man of Syracuse who sneaks into the city to seek for his lost twin son Antipholus.
A great traveller, he has not had the easiest of lives, having lost his wife and one of his sons in a tempest, and then having the remaining son vanish in his quest to find his brother. Recognised as a Syracusian and captured, he is sentenced to be beheaded unless he can pay a ransom of a thousand marks. His pleas to Duke Solinus are unavailing, but the tale of his woes touches the Ephesian ruler, who allows him to roam the town to find someone who will pay the ransom for him by sundown. He is unsuccessful in this, but does find his son – who denies ever having met him. Things are soon cleared up when it is revealed that both of his twins are present in town, as is his lost wife, who just happens to be an Abbess there. Egeon is not the happiest of men, living under sentence of death as he is, and convinced at the end that his son is ashamed of him.