LOVE AND OTHER FABLES is a romantic screwball musical comedy set on the Greek island of Samos in 600 B.C. Aesop, a cocky "unsellable slave," finally meets his match when he is purchased by the philosopher Xanthus as a husband for his sexually frustrated slave, Lycaena. Xanthus is impressed with his wit and, despite his wife’s objections, sees it as a perfect pairing (I’VE GOT FABLES).
Aesop falls head over heels for Lycaena but she has been praying to the Goddess Aphrodite for a handsome hero to sweep her off her feet, and mistakenly thinks Aesop’s fellow slave, the virile but dim-witted Philocalus is her husband to be (SOME PERFECT STRANGER). Disappointed, she takes one look at Aesop and rejects him. To eliminate a potential rival for Lycaena’s affection, Aesop arranges for Philocalus to return to his native land of Lydia in hopes of becoming a court musician.
Lydia is ruled by the wealthy and miserly King Croesus (ONLY UNIMPORTANT THINGS). Once Philocalus arrives there, he has no trouble gaining the attention of Croesus’ courtesan, the alluring but crafty Delphinia (YOU’VE GOT A FUTURE WITH ME). Croesus is unexpectedly challenged by Nectanabo, King of Egypt, who has sent him the first of three conundrums to be solved on penalty of forfeiting land and huge sums of money. Croesus is stumped but Philocalus serendipitously comes to the rescue when he remembers the answer to a riddle Aesop had told him. Croesus, confusing him for a wise man, instantly promotes him to high office.
Back in Samos, Aesop tries in vain to woo Lycaena by serenading her (LYCAENA) but she still refuses to marry him. And in Lydia, Croesus is presented with the second conundrum which Philocalus, not surprisingly, cannot solve. But, with Delphinia’s help, he manages to get sent back to Samos to seek Aesop’s help under the guise of threatening war against Samos unless they pay a tax to Croesus.
Catastrophe suddenly returns from an extended trip to Delphi only to discover that Lycaena is still unmarried. Fearing retribution from the Aphrodite, she springs into action, arranging her marriage to Aesop. Though he adores her, Aesop realizes how unhappy Lycaena is (OUTSIDE LOOKING IN).
Lycaena is taken by Catastrophe to Mme. Mnemosyne’s dress shop for bridal clothes. Aesop, realizing he can never make her happy, arrives with a plan to help Lycaena escape to her native Crete (THE CRETAN WEDDING DANCE). They bind Catastrophe and Mnemosyne in yards of fabric and Aesop has them shipped off to the island of Lesbos.
Aesop sends Lycaena off on a ship which he thinks is bound for Crete but is actually a slave ship headed for Lydia. Philocalus ceremoniously arrives to demand a tax for Croesus and, more importantly, to get Aesop to help him solve the elaborate conundrum. In order to avoid the impending tax and war, Aesop offers to go back of Lydia with Philocalus to plead their cause with the King. Xanthus frees him so he can accomplish the task and bring Lycaena home (STAND UP AND BE COUNTED).
Lycaena arrives at the palace with a troupe of dancing slave girls, The Furies, but fails to impress Croesus with her footwork (DANCE OF THE FURIES). She is sent to the slave quarters to wait on Delphinia.
Philocalus returns with Aesop, and Croesus is furious that the unimpressive looking fabulist has caused him such trouble and threatens him with death. But Aesop wins him over with the fable of the lion and the mouse (SUCH SWEET HARMONY). And when Aesop also solves the conundrum, Croesus promotes him to a position of power and reunites him with Lycaena. But Croesus still refuses to make peace with Samos.
Aesop is determined to send Lycaena back to Samos to warn Xanthus of the impending war. When she sees Philocalus, she is reluctant to help until Philocalus impetuously kisses her and she realizes that he is not the man of her dreams after all.
Feeling threatened by the rise in Aesop’s fortunes, Delphina and Philocalus hatch a plot against him to fake charges that he is secretly in league with Nectanabo. Aesop arranges to send Lycaena back to Samos to warn Xanthus (SONG OF THE ASSYRIAN SOMNAMBULIST). She returns with the news of war and then heads back to help Aesop while Xanthus ponders the state of his matchmaking (IT DOESN’T ALWAYS LOOK LIKE IT’S LOVE).
Aesop goes to Delphinia’s chamber to retrieve the scroll containing the final conundrum while she tries to extract the solution from him with her feminine wiles. He pretends to go along with her, distracting her with visions of stardom (LEGS). But her plot to prove him a traitor succeeds and Aesop is imprisoned and sentenced to death.
Lycaena disguises herself as a soldier and frees Aesop from his dungeon. He decides to clear his name and confront Croesus disguised as Nectanabo.
Croesus, unable to solve the riddle, goes to his treasury to say goodbye to his money. The real Nectanabo arrives demanding the answer or full payment when Aesop arrives in his Egyptian disguise. As the two Nectanabos come face to face, Xanthus, also disguised as Nectanabo, arrives unexpectedly from Samos to help Aesop. Aesop uses his sudden appearance to solve the riddle and an irate Nectanabo is sent packing. Catastrophe suddenly arrives to take Xanthus home, and Croesus decides to send Aesop and Lycaena back to Samos as his ambassadors with a message of peace.
Aesop and Lycaena are finally able to declare their love for each other (JUST THE BEGINNING) and the show ends with their wedding (FINALE).