Gervase Markham
and William Sampson

circa 1619–1622

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Achitophel is an opportunistic drug-seller. He sings songs to advertise his wares and admits to King Herod of having concocted a poison potion for Marriam, the Queen. He sells an incredibly strong poison potion to Antipater and implicates Salumith in the plot to destroy Herod and his family. Achitophel meets death when he is made to drink his own poison.


Adda is the wife of Pheroas, the king's cup bearer and brother to Herod and Salumith. She is arrested by Hillus on the order of Herod and on the basis of false testimony given by the Eunuch. She survives a fall from a window-an attempt at suicide-and is racked until she offers false testimony concerning poison found in Alexandra's possession. She also implicates Antipater as the one who planned to use the poison.


Only mentioned. Aesculapius was the ancient physician to whom Achitophel refers in a song that testifies to the beneficial powers of the drug-seller's wares.


A "ghost character." Alexander is the deceased husband of Alexandra and the nephew of Hircanus.


Alexandra is the mother of Queen Marriam and the sister of Aristobulus the Elder, High Priest of Judah. She and her brother are caught attempting to flee Herod's court hiding in trunks. Although both are forgiven, Aristobulus the Elder is drowned in a swimming contest, and Alexandra dies when she is made to drink poison that Antipater had intended for Herod. She dies recognizing her prior error in believing her daughter Marriam had been unfaithful to the king.


Animis is an Herodian officer. He follows Herod's orders strictly throughout the play, ending by conducting Antipater to what will be the prince's execution.


A "ghost character," Antigonus is mentioned by Alexandra as being the uncle of Marriam the Queen and brother of Alexandra's own father.


Antipas is one of two grandsons to Herod. He is brother to Archelaus, who is made King of Judah by Augustus when Herod dies.


Nothing but evil flows through the veins of Antipater, bastard son of King Herod. Antipater, often plagued by bizarre visions, offers an obedient countenance to Herod while systematically destroying Aristobulus the Elder, Queen Marriam, Joseph, and the king's other sons. He also plots to poison Herod himself. He is aided and abetted throughout by Salumith. Arrested on his return from Rome, Antipater believes he is bound for glory, but he is instead led to execution.


A "ghost character." According to Hillus the centurion, Antony has died in Egypt after losing his battle with Augustus.


Archelaus is one of King Herod's two grandsons. Augustus makes him King of Judah when Herod dies.


Aristobulus the Elder is High Priest of Judah and brother to Alexandra. He and Alexandra are caught attempting to escape Herod's court; though both are forgiven, Antipater later drowns Aristobulus in a swimming contest, and Alexandra must eventually drink poison.


Caesar Augustus is the current Roman emperor. Though stunned by Herod's audacity in trying to defend his support of Antony, Augustus does not execute Herod. He arrives in Judah to learn of Antipater's treachery and to view Antipater's execution. When Herod dies, Augustus names Prince Archelaus, Herod's grandson, as King of Judah.


A "ghost character," Cassius is named by Alexandra as the man who cut off her father Antigonus' head.


A "ghost character." Chrysander is the absent man to whom Antipater plans to attribute the writing of treasonous and plotting letters given to Animis. Antipater, of course, is the true author of those letters.


A "ghost character." Cleopatra is Queen of Egypt. Aristobulus the Elder and Alexandra have received a letter from Cleopatra urging them to flee Herod and come to Egypt. Cleopatra's suicide is also mentioned during the course of the play.


Only mentioned. Daniel was a biblical prophet. Prince Aristobulus, son of Herod, urges his father to become a Daniel to himself and his family, providing guidance and safety instead of plots and death.


Decius serves as Roman officer to Caesar Augustus.


Disease is servant to the drug-seller Achitophel. He is privy to the machinations of his master in selling poison to Antipater, and he is hanged for his complicity.


Durt is a local laborer working on the restoration of the Temple.


The Eunuch is in service to Alexandra, Queen Marriam's mother, but also is a spy for Salumith, the sister of King Herod. He offers false testimony to Herod against Alexandra.


Imprisoned by Caesar Augustus, this unnamed First Slave is offered freedom if he will slay Herod. The Slave refuses to kill a king and is eventually given command of a Roman legion; the assumption is, of course, that such loyalty to royalty provides a measure of safety for Augustus.


Handsaw is a carpenter hired for work on Temple restoration. He is also hired by Salumith to lie about an attempt on Herod's life supposedly concocted by the king's younger sons.


Herod is King of Judah by pleasure of Emperor Caesar Augustus. He is easily swayed by thought of danger to himself and his kingdom; he has caused the deaths of his wife Marriam's father and grandfather supposedly in response to political and physical dangers. He forgives the attempted escape of Alexandra and Aristobulus the Elder, but he is convinced through false testimony that his beloved Marriam has been unchaste and orders her executed. More false testimony causes Herod to mandate the strangulation of his own younger sons Aristobulus and Alexander. When his bastard son Antipater's plotting and treachery are finally revealed to him, Herod weakens physically at the thought of his immense loss. He collapses and dies at the execution of Antipater.


Hillus is a centurion in service to King Herod. He brings to court news that Augustus has conquered Egypt and that Antony is dead. Hillus works closely with the traitor Antipater, bastard son of Herod.


A "ghost character." Hircanus is the deceased father of Alexandra. He was both king and High Priest in Judah before King Herod assumed the throne.


Joseph is husband to Salumith and brother-in-law to King Herod. The King charges Joseph with re-vitalizing the Temple. In the course of his duties, Joseph overhears a plot between Herod and Antipater. Fearing for the safety of the Queen, Joseph tells her that Herod has ordered Antipater to kill Marriam if Herod should be killed while visiting Caesar Augustus. Joseph is executed when false accusations of illicit relations between himself and Queen Marriam are believed.


The Jewish historian Josephus serves as the chorus for this play. He is mentioned first in the Prologue and afterwards serves as a bridge to explain intervals in the action of the drama.


Only mentioned. Julius, or Julius Caesar, is mentioned by the First Slave as she refuses to kill King Herod on Augustus' order.


Only mentioned. The biblical King Solomon constructed the original Temple. Herod had in the past defaced the rebuilt Temple and has now commissioned a restoration.


Kiparim is the mother of King Herod and of Salumith. She nurses a strong hatred for the king's wife Marriam and Marriam's mother Alexandra.


Lime is a mason hired to work on Temple restoration. He is also employed by Salumith to testify falsely that the king's younger sons had concocted a plan to kill their father by having large stones dropped upon the king form the Temple construction site.


Lucullus is a Roman officer serving Caesar Augustus.


Queen of Judah, Marriam is wife to Herod and daughter to Alexandra. Already Herod has been responsible for the deaths of Marriam's father and grandfather, so she is glad when Alexabdra and Aristobulus the Elder try to escape Herod's court and chagrined when the escape attempt fails. Falsely accused of infidelity to Herod, Marriam is executed on Herod's order; those viewing her execution speak of her as seeming saintly and glorified immediately prior to death.


Mother-Queene is the term used by Herod to refer to Alexandra, mother of his wife Marriam.


Mutius is a Roman officer serving Caesar Augustus. He brings news to Augustus that Herod has arrived from Judah.


Niraleus is a courtier to King Herod. He has surveyed the Temple and states that the work ordered by Herod has made the Temple better than it was originally under Salomon. He offers details as to the building structure, size, and materials. When Antipater's treachery is suspected, Niraleus is sent to bring Antipater back from Rome.


Pheroas is brother to Herod and Salumith; he is also Herod's cup bearer. He testifies falsely that Marriam had brought him poison to place in Herod's cup. Later he describes the saintly attitude of Marriam at her execution. He is banished by Herod, and in his anguish he later confesses his earlier falsehoods and asserts Queen Marriam was indeed innocent and chaste.


Prince Alexander is King Herod's son. Antipater urges him into a continual defense of his slain mother Marriam, and he is falsely accused of plots against Herod's life. Herod orders him strangled.


Prince Aristobulus is King Herod's son. Antipater urges him into a continuous defense of his slain mother Marriam, and he is falsely accused of plotting to take the king's life. Herod orders him strangled.


Salumith is the wife of Joseph and sister to King Herod. In league with Herod's bastard son Antipater in potting the downfall of Herod, Salumith tells Herod that his wife Marriam has been unfaithful and lain with Joseph. Salumith assists Antipater's schemes at every step, hiring common laborers to swear falsely that they had been asked by Herod's younger sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, to murder the king. What Salumith never realizes is that Antipater plans to have her out of the way as well in his campaign to sit upon the throne of Judah.


This unnamed Second Slave, in jail at Augustus' encampment, offers that he would kill his own father if freedom were the reward. Augustus withdraws his offer of freedom and the request that the slave kill King Herod to earn that freedom. The Slave is then thrown into the sea by order of Augusts, who obviously feels that this Slave has no loyalty and consequently presents a danger if set free.


Tryphon is Herod's barber. He is hired by Salumith to claim falsely that the king's younger sons, Alexander and Artisobulus, have paid him to cut the king's throat during shaving. Herod personally kills Tryphon.