Dryden’s comedy set in Sicily follows two storylines. The first one concerns two lovers Palmyra and Leonidas. Both characters are raised by Hermogenes, who is not their real father, but he keeps the truth about their origins to himself. Upon his encounter with Polydamas, the usurper, Hermogenes announces that Leonidas is Polydamas’s son. This is disastrous news for the young couple, as Leonidas’s new status as a prince does not allow him to marry Palmyra. Nevertheless, Palmyra and Leonidas refuse to end their relationship. As a result, Palmyra is sentenced to die. In order to help the couple. Hermogenes declares that he lied. He says that Leonidas is his own son and that he only wanted to improve his position, but in fact, Palmyra is the offspring of Polydamas. Palmyra is recognized as a princess, however, the reversal of positions does not change anything for the couple, as Leonidas becomes the unworthy one. Consequently, Hermogenes comes forward again and admits that his second stance was also a lie and that Leonidas is not his own son, but the son of the rightful king. When Leonidas learns of his true origin, he decides to overthrow Polydamas and to become the new king. His mission is successful and he and Palmyra can be married.
The second part of the story concerns two friends, Rhodophil and Palamede. The unfortunate courtier Palamede falls in love with Doralice, Rhodohil’s wife. In turn, Rhodophil takes fancy in Melantha, who is engaged to Palamede. Both women like their new suitors and they try to meet with them in secret. However, the situations complicates itself, as both pairs always happen to choose the same places for their secret rendezvous. Eventually, the truth comes out and the two friends decide that it will be the best if each one pursues his rightful claim.