Fourteen-year-old Phano dreams of a quiet life as a repectable housewife in ancient Athens. Quiet respectability, though, may be more than Phano can hope for. Her father’s wife, whom Phano calls Mama, was once a courtesan. Though Phano loves her deeply, Mama is far more wilful than a proper Athenian matron. And Mama has a mortal enemy, a man named Phrynion, who claims that Phano is not a free citizen but a slave who belongs to him.
When Phano meets Theo, the handsome eldest son of a respectable family, she falls in love. But how can she hope to marry Theo with Phrynion’s threats hanging over her, with her family’s lack of position, with no money for a dowry?