SOLIMAN AND PERSEDA, or
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Brother of Soliman. In the first act, he supports Soliman's plan to conquer Rhodes. When his brother Haleb expresses concern about the plan, he is enraged and murders him. Soliman then murders Amurath.
A braggart knight. He participates in the Governor's games and is in love with Perseda. He is dismayed when he sees her in Erastus's company and complains to Piston. He serves as comic relief through much of the play. Proclaiming himself Perseda's knight, he vows to destroy Erastus after Perseda has learned of his apparent betrayal. After Ferdinando's death, he places himself in the service of both Perseda and Lucina, neither of whom appear interested. He is captured during the Turkish assault on Rhodes, and agrees to "turn Turk" to save his life (though he says it is for love of Perseda). Once in Turkey, he learns from Piston of the marriage of Erastus and Perseda, and he decides to return to Rhodes and to reclaim his Christian faith. He stands with Perseda to defend Rhodes, but is killed by Soliman when he attempts to kiss the dead Perseda.
Soliman's general. He participates in the Governor's games. When he returns to Turkey, he extols the merits of young Erastus, as Soliman explains his plan to conquer Rhodes. Brusor leads the triumphant Turkish assault on Rhodes, and brings Perseda and Lucina back to the emperor as prisoners. Soliman gives him Lucina. When Soliman approves the marriage of Erastus and Perseda, and appoints Erastus Governor of Rhodes, Brusor is overcome with envy. He counsels Soliman to continue to court Perseda, and to allow Lucina to encourage Perseda to consider the suit. He suggests that Soliman request Erastus's return from Rhodes, charge him with treason, and thereby clear the way to Perseda. He travels with Lucina to Rhodes to request Erastus's return, and returns to Turkey with him. After Erastus's execution, he returns to Rhodes with Soliman; following Perseda's death, the emperor proclaims that Brusor was the cause of all and orders his execution.
He reports the re-taking of Rhodes to Soliman in the final act.
The cryer appears in I.iv when Piston asks him to "cry the chain" which Erastus has lost.
Death's character appears in the first scene (induction), in scenes between acts, and in the final scene; Fortune, Love, and Death discuss their respective parts in the on-going events and serve as a chorus to the action.
A knight. He participates in the Governor's games.
A knight of Rhodes. He has loved Perseda since childhood and persuades her to accept his love and the gift of a ring in the play's second scene. He accepts a chain from her. He then demonstrates his knightly prowess by defeating all others at the games celebrating the marriage of the Prince of Cyprus to the daughter of the Governor of Rhodes. During the games, however, he loses the chain. When he next meets Perseda, she accuses him of betraying her and breaks off their engagement. He then sets up a game in which he, Piston, and his friends Guelpio and Iulio, will appear as mummers and gamble with Lucina in order to get the chain back. This venture succeeds, but Ferdinando appears as they are departing and challenges them. Erastus kills Ferdinando. Recognizing his need to flee, he plans to go to Turkey. He gives the chain to Piston to take to Perseda along with his vows of love. He defeats Soliman in a challenge and is welcomed by the emperor and given a position as leader of the emperor's army. He requests that he not be involved in the war on Rhodes, and Soliman agrees. The emperor reports the results of the war to him, and he asks to be allowed to mourn in private. When Soliman recalls him, he is reunited with Perseda, and the emperor-who proclaims he loves them both-approves their marriage and makes Erastus the governor of Rhodes. He and Perseda have a few happy moments in Rhodes before Brusor and Lucina arrive. Brusor is carrying Soliman's request that Erastus return to Turkey, which he obeys. Upon his arrival he is arrested on false charges of high treason, tried, and executed.
Kinsman of Philippo, and a knight. He is defeated by Erastus in the games, but finds the chain Erastus has lost and gives it to Lucina, his beloved. When he appears at her home, he encounters the departing mummers, who have the chain in hand, and challenges them. Erastus kills him.
Fortune's character appears in the first scene (induction), in scenes between acts, and in the final scene; Fortune, Love, and Death discuss their respective parts in the on-going events and serve as a chorus to the action.
A knight. He participates in the Governor's games.
Friend of Erastus. In act two, he participates in the mummers game with Erastus, Piston, and Iulio, in which they regain from Lucina the chain Perseda had given Erastus. He is captured during the Turkish assault on Rhodes then killed when he refuses to convert.
Brother of Soliman. In act one, he expresses his concern about Soliman's plan to conquer Rhodes. His brother Amurath, who supports the plan, is roused to anger and murders him.
Friend of Erastus. In act two, he participates in the mummers game with Erastus, Piston, and Iulio, in which they regain from Lucina the chain Perseda had given Erastus. He reports the murder of Ferdinando to Philippo and accompanies him back to the body. He is captured during the Turkish assault on Rhodes then killed when he refuses to convert.
Non-speaking characters. An unnamed number appear in some of the Turkish court scenes and the assault on Rhodes in act five. Two Janissaries execute Erastus.
The Lord Marshall arrests Erastus on Soliman's orders. After Erastus's execution, Soliman kills the Lord Marshall.
Love's character appears in the first scene (induction), in scenes between acts, and in the final scene; Fortune, Love, and Death discuss their respective parts in the on-going events and serve as a chorus to the action.
Beloved of Ferdinando. She receives a chain from him in pledge of his love. It is the chain Persida gave Erastus and he lost in the games. When the mummers appear, she willingly gambles with them, wins gold, but loses the chain. She mistakes the disguised Erastus for Ferdinando. With Perseda, she mourns Ferdinando's death, and Perseda mourns Erastus's self-exile. She is captured along with Perseda during the Turkish assault on Rhodes, and taken to Turkey. Soliman gives her to Brusor. She travels back to Rhodes with Brusor, where she remains with Perseda when Erastus is called back to Turkey. She attempts to persuade Perseda to accept Soliman's love. When Perseda discovers her treachery and Basilisco refuses to kill her, Perseda kills her.
Announces to Erastus that the Princess has called him to the games in I.ii.
Beloved of Erastus. In the play's second scene, she acknowledges his love and presents him with a chain; he gives her a ring. When he loses the chain during the games, Ferdinando finds it and gives it to Lucina. After the games, Perseda visits Lucina with Basilisco, sees that Lucina is wearing the chain she gave to Erastus, and believes that he has already betrayed her. She tells Basilisco that she will ask him to revenge her honor. She chastises Erastus when they meet, and breaks off their engagement. When Piston returns the recovered chain to her and tells her of Ferdinando's death and Erastus's flight, she vows to follow him to Turkey. She mourns Erastus's self-exile with Lucina, as Lucina mourns Ferdinando's death. She is captured during the Turkish assault on Rhodes and taken to Turkey. When Brusor presents her to the Emperor, he is smitten. She asks to die rather than to become his concubine, and although he vows to kill her, he is unable to do so. When she asks that he allow her to live as a Christian virgin, he agrees. Then Erastus appears and the lovers are reunited. Soliman approves their marriage and appoints Erastus Governor of Rhodes. They return there and are briefly happy, until the emperor's summons calls Erastus back. Perseda learns of Erastus's fate when Piston interrupts her conversation with Basilisco and Lucina. Convinced that Lucina was in on the plot, she asks Basilisco to kill her; when he hesitates, she kills Lucina herself. When the Turks arrive in Rhodes, she greets them (disguised as a man) from the walls, and challenges Soliman to single combat. He agrees, and she dies in the combat, but not before kissing Soliman with poisoned lips.
Governor of Rhodes. He welcomes the knights who will participate in the games celebrating his daughter's marriage to the Prince of Cyprus. He is dismayed at the murder of his kinsman Ferdinando, and vows to capture Erastus. He is slain during the Turkish assault on Rhodes.
Servant to Erastus. Piston provides an element of comic relief early in the play. He is urged by Philippo to betray his master after Ferdinando's murder. He takes the recovered chain to Perseda and tells her what has happened, and that he will follow his master to Turkey. He delays Basilisco's attempt to find Erastus by giving him misinformation and challenging him to a fight. He arrives in Rhodes shortly after Erastus and gives him news. He is a witness to Erastus's trial and execution, and carries the news to Perseda in Rhodes. He stands with her when the Turks attack, and is killed by Soliman after Perseda's death.
PRINCE OF CYPRUS
Son-in-law of Philippo. With Philippo, he welcomes the participating knights to the games. He is slain during the Turkish assault on Rhodes.
PRINCESS OF CYPRUS
Perhaps a "ghost character" and certainly a non-speaking character. Daughter of Philippo, bride to the Prince of Cyprus. Her request that Erastus come to her wedding games is carried to him by a messenger. Her presence is never noted on stage, but she could appear in the court scenes at the games and following them (I.iii and iv).
Emperor of the Turks. As he awaits the return of his general, Brusor, from Rhodes, he plots how he might take that kingdom. One of his brothers, Amurath, supports his plan, while the other, Haleb, raises questions about it. When Amurath kills Haleb in a rage, Soliman kills Amurath, then mourns both brothers. When Brusor returns from Rhodes, he asks him about its defenses and explains his plan of conquest. When Erastus appears seeking asylum, Soliman invites him to join his army and challenges him to a fight. Erastus defeats him in the challenge and impresses the emperor. Soliman agrees that Erastus need not fight in the war against Rhodes. He sends Brusor to lead this assault. When Brusor returns victorious, he brings Perseda and Lucina with him as prisoners. Soliman gives Lucina to Brusor, but wants Perseda for his own. When she refuses him, he vows to kill her but is unable to do so and agrees instead to let her live as a Christian virgin. When his "other best beloved"-Erastus-enters, he learns that the two are lovers and approves their marriage. He appoints Erastus Governor of Rhodes. When Brusor proposes a plan that will eliminate Erastus and give Perseda to the emperor, he agrees to it. Despite his proclaimed love for Erastus, he orders his arrest on false charges of high treason. When Erastus is executed, he is so dismayed that he executes the two Janissaries that strangled him, has the witnesses thrown off the tower, and kills the Lord Marshall. He then sails to Rhodes to claim Perseda. Challenged to single combat by an unnamed defender of Rhodes, he agrees and wins the combat, only to discover that it is a disguised Perseda that he has slain. He then kills Basilisco and Piston, and sends Brusor to his death for causing the deaths of Erastus and Perseda. As he lies beside her to contemplate Perseda's beauty, he discovers a note that reveals that he has been poisoned by the kiss she allowed him to give her as she died. He dies.
A knight. He participates in the Governor's games.
WITNESSES, TWO FALSE
These two false witnesses testify in Erastus's trial, stating that he planned to destroy the Turkish fleet. After Erastus' execution, they are then thrown from the tower at Soliman's orders.