The play is set in motion by the mischievous Pan, who speaks the prologue and whose personality dominates the play. Pan makes young Sostratos fall in love with a peasant girl he has glimpsed. Sostratos sends his servant to see the girl's father. This ends in violence, as the father is Knemon, a misanthropic farmer who becomes enraged at anyone who ventures onto his land or tries to converse with him. His wife and stepson have left him; only his daughter (who has no name) and an old servant woman live with him.