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Theseus takes Palamon and Arcite from Thebes as prisoners after returning from a battle in which he won his wife, Hippolyta, and her sister, Emily. He then takes control and becomes Duke of Thebes
While in prison, Palamon and Arcite both see Emily, and both knights fall in love with her.
A friend of Arcite's convinces Theseus to let him free. Arcite later returns because he wants to win Emily's heart; however, one night, Arcite is wandering and confesses his story. Palamon, having just escaped and just heard Arcite's story, challenges Arcite to a duel. Theseus discovers them and plans a final tournament in a year, in which both men can bring an army of 100 men and compete for Emily's love.
Arcite and Palamon pray to Mars and Venus, respectively, which causes conflict between the gods. Saturn finds a way to satisfy both gods and Arcite wins the battle. But, Pluto causes an earthquake and Arcite gets thrown off his horse.
While Arcite lay dying, he tells Emily that Palamon is a worthy husband and to marry him.
After Arcite's death, Palamon and Emily get married to honor him.
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