In Bohemia, near the Old Shepherd’s house, a thief /conman named Autolycus sings a song about summer and springtime, which, for guys like Autolycus, involves stealing and rolling around in the “hay” with various women while the birds sing sweetly in the background.
The Clown appears on stage talking about how much money he and his father might make off the sheep they’ve been raising. He’s not very bright and he’s having a really hard time adding up numbers, so he turns his attention to what his sister (Perdita) wants him to buy for the upcoming sheep-shearing festival. (For you city folk, that’s a festival that literally revolves around giving haircuts to sheep.)
The Clown talks about the yummy food and great music one can expect at a sheep-shearing shindig.
Autolycus, whose name literally means “the wolf itself,” licks his lips and rubs his hands together in an “I’m totally going to take advantage of this chump” kind of way and approaches the Clown.
Autolycus rolls around the ground as if he’s in pain and begs for help. The Clown takes the bait and listens solemnly while Autolycus lies and says he was beaten and robbed.
When the Clown helps him off the ground, Autolycus picks his pockets. Then the Clown offers to give him some money.
Autolycus makes up a story about the guy who supposedly beat and robbed him and gets the poor Clown all riled up before he heads off to the store to buy spices for the sheep-shearing festival.
As the Clown walks away, Autolycus makes a joke about how he’s going to prey on the “sheep” (chumps like the Clown) at the upcoming festival. Very punny.