John Harrison


"Philomathes' Second Dream" is a convenience title for an untitled "allegory or dream" written for "the exercise of the children after dinner" at St. Paul's School in 1586. Harrison was a controversial High Master at the school; both this drama and its 1584 predecessor, whose convenience title is "Philomathes' Dream," got Harrison into trouble with school officials. The only publication of either of the two texts has been in a 1954 Malone Society reprint.

February 1586

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Alternate spelling of Euphorus.


Euphorus, also spelled Ephorus, helps to recount the "solemn disputation" to which he and the rest of the company (except Polumathes and Philomathes) were challenged by a group of ruffian scholars in the street before the start of the play. A character with steady, balanced contributions but few lengthy ones, he encourages the deeper, allegorical interpretation of Philomathes' dream and plays a facilitating role in the ensuing critique of the students at St. Paul's school.


Eubolus opens the play by exchanging praise with Polumathes for exemplary scholarship and a disinclination to be involved in street business. He is an significant contributor to the collective interpretation of Philomathes' dream: he reads the people peeping through holes in the garden wall as common people prying into the affairs of the Master of the school; the plants, birds, beasts, and bees within the garden as young scholars "fructifying and growing by good instruction"; the central fountain with the white hind beside it as the school's founder, John Collet (whose coat of arms contains the same animal); and the virgin in the cloud as the school's patrons. At Philomathes' behest, Eubolus reviews the entire dream allegory in a lengthy speech near the end of the play, with a particular focus on defending the school's Master.


Alternate spelling of Eubolus.


Ludio is a brash and lazy young scholar at St. Paul's. He chimes in occasionally with comments that demonstrate his single-minded focus on making his studies easier; in particular, he wishes that the school's Master would take more time off for bowling, bear baiting, plays, taverns, banquets, and other leisure activities, "as others do." His role in the play becomes more prominent in its third quarter, as other characters give him a mild scolding for his attitude toward the Master. By the end of the play, Ludio is thankful for the lesson but not entirely reformed.


Parillus helps to recount the "solemn disputation" to which he and the rest of the company (except Philomathes) were challenged by a group of ruffian scholars in the street before the start of the play. He is the primary agent in encouraging Philomathes to recount his dream, but offers no interpretations of it. Parillus makes a number of brief contributions to the lengthy digression on problems with the student body at St. Paul's.


Philomathes is the only character besides Polumathes who hasn't been involved in the verbal confrontation in the street, which the others are discussing at the start of the play. Unlike Polumathes, though, Philomathes' absence is due to a dream or trance from which he has just awakened. The dream is of a garden circled by a wall. Around the wall are various groups of people seeking to penetrate it, whether by spitting over it, peering through holes in it, or hammering at the anvil sealing the gate; all fail. Inside the garden are birds, beasts, honeybees, and flowers, all flourishing due to the efforts of an attendant gardener who is troubled by a painful ear and a weight hanging from his side. In the center of the garden is a fountain with a white hind beside it and a cloud above it; the cloud emits a pleasant dew, and contains a princely virgin who removes the gardener's ailments. Philomathes has been awakened from his trance by Ponophilus, but only after a lengthy and violent effort. After recounting his dream, Philomathes has almost no role in the play until the end, when he gives a closing speech asking the favor of the audience (which apparently contains potential patrons of St. Paul's school).


Polumathes is the only character besides Philomathes not to have been involved in the verbal street confrontation under discussion at the start of the play, and he voices his disapproval of all such "trifling in the street." Polumathes takes the lead in interpreting Philomathes' dream: he identifies the paradisical setting as "the flourishing city of London"; the walled garden as St. Paul's school; the various assailants at the wall as various critics of the school and its Master; the weight around the gardener's girdle as the Master's burden in supporting his family on meager income; and the transformation of the weight into a golden bell on the neck of the white hind as the benefits of patronage for the school. He joins Philomathes at the end of the play in entreating the audience to become patrons.


Ponophilus seems to enter with Philomathes, after the other characters have discussed the verbal confrontation that has just taken place in the street. Ponophilus tells the others that Philomathes has been in a trance, from which Ponophilus was barely able to wake him. Later, Ponophilus takes a significant role in the digressive discussion of endemic problems with the students at St. Paul's. He seems particularly concerned that the school accepts students who aren't yet prepared and releases students who aren't finished with their studies. In the last part of the play, Ponophilus testifies, with Ludio, to the extreme diligence of the Master of the school.


Theopompus has played a central role in the confrontation under discussion at the start of the play, and is the primary speaker in recounting the incident for Polumathes. A group of "jolly fellows" challenged Theopompus and a number of other students to a "solemn disputation...for the silver pen"; the students declined, but the challengers continued to harass them. Theopompus plays a minor, interrogatory role in the discussion of Philomathes' dream, and makes a number of brief, supportive contributions to the critique of current conditions at St. Paul's school.