John Fletcher


5 January 1617 (acted)

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


In the masque of beasts (IV.i) that Stremon organizes in an attempt to restore Memnon to his wits, the First Servant takes the role of the Ape.


Astorax is the king of Paphos and brother of Calis. He is concerned by his general Memnon's love madness, and after receiving a report that the kingdom is about to be attacked, he urges Calis to take Memnon for his accomplishments (and because his martial services appear to be once more required). When Memnon withdraws from the pursuit of Calis in favor of his brother Polidor, Astorax orders a feast to commemorate both the proper union of true lovers and Memnon's return to normalcy.


In the masque of beasts, the Page (Picus) appears as a pied Bird.


The princess Calis is the sister of Astorax, the king of Paphos. When the general Memnon becomes infatuated with her and begins acting strangely, she is fearful and attempts to keep him at a distance. When Siphax, the brother of Cleanthe, one of Calis's ladies in waiting, visits the princess on behalf of Memnon, he is himself smitten and enlists his sister in an effort to gain her hand. A short time later, Polidor and the friends of Memnon visit the princess in an effort to convince her of Memnon's great love, but Calis instead falls in love with Polidor. Cleanthe lures Calis to the Temple of Venus to receive a fake message from the goddess that will lead her to Siphax, but in the event, the real goddess herself appears and tells Calis she will have a dead lover, but one which will please her. When Polidor stages his own funeral in an attempt to incline the princess to Memnon, he is forced to reveal himself when Memnon attempts suicide, accepts Calis, but then bestows her upon his brother. Returned to his wits, the general recognizes that Calis loves Polidor, and asks Astorax to honor his brother with the hand of the princess and to find a military action for himself. The king is so moved by the display of honor and generosity all around that he grants both requests and orders a public celebration to mark the union of Calis and Polidor.


Disguise taken by Stremon's servant. When Stremon disguises himself as Orpheus in an attempt to dissuade Memnon from having his heart cut out and sent to Calis, he has an unnamed servant disguise himself as Charon, the classical ferryman of the dead. He tells Memnon that he is not allowed to transport individuals who have killed themselves for love.


A veteran soldier. Chilax returns to Paphos with Memnon and there reconnects with his old lover the Priest of Venus. When Siphax and his sister Cleanthe try to trick the princess Calis into marriage with Siphax, Chilax has CloŽ , the discarded mistress to Siphax, impersonate the princess and trick Siphax into marrying her instead.


Cleanthe is one of Calis's serving women and the sister to Siphax. When the later becomes smitten with love for the princess, he urges Cleanthe to help him, and she agrees to arrange for Calis to receive a fabricated message from Venus instructing the princess to marry the first man she meets outside the goddess's temple. Siphax will be positioned there and fulfill the terms of the letter. The ruse by Chilax and others to substitute Siphax's discarded mistress CloŽ (disguised as the princess) and to see the two of them married undoes Cleanthe's scheming.


The cast off mistress of the soldier Siphax. CloŽ follows him to Paphos where Chilax arranges for her to impersonate the princess Calis. Believing his sister Cleanthe has devised a plan allowing him to win the hand of the princess, Siphax is tricked instead into marrying the disguised CloŽ.


Demagoras is a servant to Memnon. He is sent to fetch the Surgeon when Memnon decides to have his heart removed and sent to Calis.


A "ghost character." Diocles is a would-be usurper defeated by Memnon in the Battle of Pelusium shortly before the play begins.


Role taken by the Foole. In the masque of beasts (IV.i) that Stremon organizes in an attempt to restore Memnon to his wits, the Foole takes the role of the Dog.


A soldier and friend to Memnon. Eumenes reports the general's victory over the usurper Diocles, and when Memnon falls into love madness over the princess Calis, he joins Stremon and the two Captains (Polybius and Pelius) in attempting to cure the general by means of a tryst with the unnamed Whore.


The unnamed Foole appears throughout, often providing the verbal fun and physical humor associated with jesters. With his Page (Picus), he exchanges banter with Chilax and Stremon, helps keep watch over the crazed Memnon, and participates in the masque of animals, taking the role of the Dog.


Role taken by Stremon's servant. In the masque presented to Memnon by Stremon, an unnamed servant plays a grumbling lawyer who was not capable of wooing.


Role taken by Stremon's second servant. In the masque of beasts (IV.i) that Stremon organizes in an attempt to restore Memnon to his wits, the Second Servant takes the role of the Lion.


Two noblemen. When Polidor begs to be banished so that the way will be clear for his brother Memnon to pursue the princess Calis, the First Lord reports that Memnon has already died, but that false report is corrected by the king Astorax. The Second Lord comments that a man must be mad to want to see the woman he loves marry someone else, and he argues that Polidor in fact is a gentleman "descended nobly" enough to aspire to the princess.


Lucippe is one Calis's serving women. She corroborates the princess's assertion that odd things happen whenever Cleanthe begins to behave in a particularly strange fashion.


Memnon is the commander of Astorax's military forces, the brother of Polidor, and the "mad lover" of the title. Rather like Shakespeare's Othello, he has spent most of his life on campaign, and when he is summoned to Paphos following the victory over Diocles at Pelusium, he is largely ignorant of the courtesies and language expected at court. Upon seeing the princess Calis, he falls madly in love with her, but his extraordinary behavior and his strange mannerisms frighten her. Desperate to communicate his love to her, Memnon finally determines to have his heart cut out and sent to Calis as witness to his affection, but his friends Eumenes, Siphax, Stremon, and the two Captains (Polybius and Pelius) are at pains to prevent him from carrying out his plan. In an effort to cure Memnon of his love madness, Stremon and others present a masque of animals which purports to show the foolishness of dying for love, and the two Captains join Eumenes in procuring the Whore in an attempt to relieve the general's "heat." All efforts at remedy fail, however, until Memnon witnesses what appears to be the funeral of his brother Polidor. When Polidor rises from his coffin to prevent Memnon from committing suicide, the general finally regains his wits, recognizes that Calis and Polidor are in love, and requests a return to his military command.


Monsieur Musicke is the joking name the Foole uses for Stremon.


The Nun, a servant in the Temple of Venus, assists Calis when she comes to consult the goddess.


Disguise taken by Stremon. Hoping to dissuade Memnon from his rash promise to send his heart to Calis in token of his love, Stremon disguises himself as the classical hero-musician Orpheus to show the general the "afterlife" of lovers in the masque of beasts in IV.i.


The Page is so labeled in the speech headings, but the text indicates that his proper name is Picus. Essentially the Foole's boy servant, the Page often bears the brunt of the Foole's jokes. He is present at the end of the play to witness the moment when Memnon regains his sanity and the princess Calis is united with her beloved Polidor.


The speech headings refer to a Second Captain, but the text indicates that his proper name is Pelius. With the First Captain (Polybius) and Eumenes, he helps keep watch over the love-crazed Memnon. It is he who procures the services of the Whore in the effort to cure the general through sex, and with the First Captain, he coaches the Whore on how best to imitate the princess Calis.


Picus is the proper name of the Page attendant upon the Foole. Essentially he is the Foole's boy servant, the Page often bears the brunt of the Foole's jokes. He is present at the end of the play to witness the moment when Memnon regains his sanity and the princess Calis is united with her beloved Polidor.


Polidor is Memnon's brother, and like him, a soldier. Attempting to convince the princess Calis of his brother's devotion, he stages a mock funeral of Memnon at which he praises his brother. The effect, however, is that Calis falls in love with him and he with her. Because he does not want to betray his brother, he begs Astorax, the king, to banish him, but failing in that, he feigns illness and spreads a rumor of his death. Staging a second funeral, this time his own, he has a letter from himself read that urges Calis to seek him by taking Memnon's love, but he is forced to rise from the coffin when Memnon, struck by the magnanimity of this gesture, attempts to commit suicide. Polidor formally accepts Calis as his own, but immediately bestows her upon Memnon, an act that provokes Memnon's final return to full sanity. Recognizing that Polidor and Calis love one another, Memnon gives her back to Polidor and asks to be returned to his old command, a request that Astorax grants.


Identified in the speech headings only as First Captain, the text makes plain that his proper name is Polybius. He is mentioned by Memnon as having done good service at the Battle of Pelusium. Frequently in the company of Eumenes and the Second Captain, the First Captain joins them in the attempt to cure Memnon's love madness by paying the Whore to disguise herself as Calis and to sleep with the general.


The Priest of Venus is in fact a priestess supervising the temple of the love goddess. She is a longtime friend and lover of the soldier Chilax, and upon his return to Paphos, she sends for him. The Priest accepts a bribe from Cleanthe to deliver a false message to the princess Calis, one that is intended to convince the princess to marry Cleanthe's brother Siphax. The plan is thwarted by the appearance of the real goddess Venus who arranges for Calis to marry her beloved Polidor.


A Page. When the Priest of Venus learns that her old lover Chilax has returned, she sends her page (the Priest's Boy) with a ring and the message that she wishes to see him. Leaving on this errand, the Boy promises to go in all haste.


In the masque of beasts (IV.i) that Stremon organizes, the First and Second Servants portray the Ape and the Lion, but the characters of Charon and the Lawyer are presented by two unnamed Servants.


The First Servant takes the role of the Ape in Stremon's masque of beasts. The Second Servant takes the role of the Lion. Other, unnumbered servants also appear and take the roles of Charon and the Lawyer.


A soldier. Siphax is the brother of Cleanthe, one of princess Calis's waiting women. When he visits the princess on behalf of Memnon, he falls in love with the princess and tells his sister he will die if he cannot have her. Cleanthe arranges a false message from Venus that instructs Calis to marry the first man she meets upon emerging from the temple, at a place where Siphax is to be waiting. He is undone, however, when Chilax has Siphax's abandoned mistress CloŽ disguised as the princess and tricks Siphax into marrying her.


A "ghost character." After Cleanthe agrees to help her brother Siphax win the heart of Calis, she begins acting strangely in the presence of the princess. Calis calls attention to the odd behavior (which is seconded by Lucippe), remarking that strange things always seem to happen when Cleanthe acts this way. When Cleanthe objects, the princess points out that the last time the lady behaved in such a fashion was immediately before the death of the princess's unnamed sister.


Stremon is a soldier known for his singing ability. When he learns of Memnon's love madness, he decides to try a cure through music, and to that end, organizes a performance that includes the masque of animals, and in which, disguised as Orpheus, he will show Memnon what happens to lovers who kill themselves for love.


A page in service to the singing soldier. Stremon's Boy takes the role of the Tree (or Bush) in the musical performance intended to cure Memnon of his love madness.


An unnamed Surgeon. He is summoned by Memnon when the general determines to have his heart cut out and sent to Calis. The Surgeon tells Memnon that, indeed, the heart may be removed in such a way that it will not be damaged, but in leaving to fetch his surgical instruments, he informs the audience in an aside that he has no intention of returning.


In the masque of beasts (IV.i), Stremon's Boy takes the role of the Tree. In the casting scene (3.5), Stremon had referred to this part as that of a Bush, but the lyrics of the song in IV.i indicate that Stremon's Boy impersonates a Tree in the performance.


Tym Treble is the joking name the Foole assigns to Stremon's Boy.


The Roman goddess of love. She appears to Calis in the temple and tells her that, because she has been stern and coy, she will have a dead love, but adds that Calis will be pleased with the dead. Later, when Memnon drops his suit for the princess, the seemingly dead Polidor will rise up and be united with her.


She resembles Calis. In an effort to cure Memnon of his love madness, Eumenes and the two Captains employ the Whore (who bears a resemblance to Calis) to sleep with the general. When Memnon meets the Whore, he seems to be attracted to her but is somewhat suspicious because she "stinks." Finally, he calls for a Numidian lion to be brought, saying the beast will fawn upon her if she is indeed a princess, but will devour her if she is not. The Whore immediately confesses to being no princess, and Memnon sends her away to "be a whore still, and stinke worse."