THOMAS RANDOLPH
ARISTIPPUS,
or THE JOVIAL PHILOSOPHER

1625–1626

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

ARISTIPPUS

The Jovial Philosopher is the namesake of the pupil of Socrates who advocated the chief good of pleasure and founded the Cyrenaic school of philosophy. Aristippus lodges at the Dolphin tavern where he teaches his loyal disciples and new pupil Simplicius the virtues of wine. He denies the ruined tapster Wildeman's accusations that he is a conjuror like St. Dunstan, Friar Bacon or Merlin, or that he is son-in-law to Doctor Faustus. His fame rests on having brought sack to town. He orders the First Scholler to beat Wildeman offstage and invites Simplicius to study with him. He instructs the Schollers to matriculate the new student. His lecture to Simplicius, after a great deal of drinking, is a denunciation of beer. Small beer and sobriety have caused errors and students have returned home from Cambridge more ignorant than when they arrived. He explains that beer drinking has undermined justice, horsemanship, the law and the court as well as the university. He advocates the drinking of sack and spirits only and explains the good effects: wines give the Promethean fire of courage to soldiers, the elixir of philosopy to scholars and the truth generally (in vino veritas). He lists sack, claret, malmsey, white-wine and hippocras, which along with tobacco and money offer all that needs to be known about alchemy, logic, grammar and rhetoric. He delights his new pupil with his arguments, and recites a hostile beggar's rhyme that has done much harm by praising moderation. He instructs his scholars to read poetry condemning beer and praising wine. After a song, Wildeman and two Brewers beat them all off the stage, and Aristippus is severely wounded in the head. His scholars bring him back in a chair to meet a repentant and converted Wildeman and Medico de Campo. The quack cures him with a powder in sack, and he proclaims his instant and miraculous recovery. He offers Medico any fee he names, which is to forgive Wildeman and admit him as a new disciple. Aristippus gives Wildeman a formal gown and sings a song in praise of sack and conviviality.

BOY

The unnamed boy works at the Dolphin tavern, where Aristippus lodges and where Simplicius seeks him out. The Boy misunderstands Simplicius's request for Aristippus and brings him a drink instead: unable to cope with the confusion, he fetches the two Schollers to deal with the new arrival.

BREWERS

Two non-speaking Brewers accompany Wildeman to beat Aristippus, Simplicius and the scholars off stage. They seriously wound Aristipppus in the head.

FELLOW

A fellow crying wine pots crosses the stage to interrupt Wildeman's first ranting monologue against the pernicious influence of wine. His entrance provokes Wildeman to further anger, and he is beaten off stage again. Other than crying his wares, he does not have any lines.

FURIES

Two non-speaking Furies, as part of the Prologue, whip Show on stage, having accompanied him from his banishment in Hell. The Prologue dismisses them after Show promises to purge his act of malice.

MEDICO de CAMPO

A quack doctor and braggart, Wildeman's neighbor. He chances to arrive when Wildeman has been converted to wine and repented his attack on Aristippus. He offers to help, with lengthy tales of his exotic career and his miraculous cures of foreign dignitaries. He diagnoses massive injuries to Aristippus and administers a powder in sack, which is an immediate cure. He is praised by all, and Aristippus promises him any fee he names. His fee is for Wildeman to be forgiven and formally admitted as Aristipppus's newest disciple. This done, he joins the others to drink healths inside while Simplicius speaks an epilogue.

PROLOGUE

Dressed as a conjuror, he presents the Prologue. He explains that he will raise mirth by magical means in defiance of the ban on entertainments by authority. He raises Show from Hell, whipped on by two silent Furies. He advises Show to purge spite and personal venom from his act and to concentrate on the witty reproof of vices. He commands the Furies to return to Hell, and gives Show new robes with which to begin the entertainment.

SCHOLLERS

Two unnamed Scholars, already committed disciples of Aristippus as the play begins. They welcome Simplicius to the Dolphin tavern, cheerfully singing the praises of Bacchus. In answer to his questions they extol Aristippus's reputation–his popularity, his powerful influence, his ready availability, merriment and good company. They bring Aristippus to his new disciple and matriculate Simplicius with many oaths, sealed by draughts of wine. With him, they attend Aristippus's lecture on the evils of beer and virtues of wine. On Aristippus's instructions, they contribute by reading poetry. The first reads a translation of Ennius denouncing ale, the second a translation of Virgil in praise of wine (both in rhyming couplets). The lecture over, they drink more and together with Simplicius sing a cheerful Philosophers' Song in praise of Aristippus. They are beaten off stage together by Wildeman and two Brewers. The scholars carry Aristippus back in a chair, where they find a repentant Wildeman and the Medico who cures their master. All exit to drink healths while Simplicius speaks an epilogue.
[Note: There is a textual anomaly here—2 Schollers are noted as entering, but a single line is attributed to '3'. The third scholar in later scenes is Simplicius himself.]

SHOW

Show is raised from Hell by the Prologue and whipped on stage by two Furies. Show is still suffering the punishment of banishment for unacceptable malicious attacks in the past. Show is repentant and will purge from his act the 'dregs of wit' and private venom and agrees to follow the Prologue's instructions to concentrate his powers on comedy reproving vices. He is freed from the Furies and given new robes before starting the entertainment.

SIMPLICIUS

A na´ve new student in Cambridge, from Giggleswick in Yorkshire. (Historically, this places him as a scholar of Christ's College, making him a fair butt for humour from the author, a graduate of Trinity.) He is a committed and pedantic student, much given to Latin and Greek tags in his conversation. He enters reading Scotus and baffled by it, and is seeking out the renowned teacher, Aristippus, for instruction. He asks for him at the Dolphin tavern, and is first unable to make the tavern Boy understand that he doesn't want a drink. He is invited to study with Aristippus: his matriculation consists of drinking to confirm every article proposed by the two Schollers: to swear to defend his master's honour, to the disgrace of brewers, Alewives and Tapsters and the enmity of Maltmen. His worries about a recent ban on drinking are dismissed by the Second Scholler, as he has already sworn to observe the keep the customs of the University, of which drinking is one. He is enraptured by Aristippus's lecture, and joins in their Philosophers' Song with the other scholars before they are all beaten off stage by Wildeman and two Brewers. He returns to remonstrate angrily with Wildeman for doing a serious injury to Aristippus. After Medico de Campo has cured Aristippus, Wildeman repented and been admitted to their fellowship and Aristippus sung a final song in praise of wine and good company, Simplicius remains behind to ask the audience's approval for his graduation, now he is qualified to take his degree–in drinking. He then joins the others to drink further healths all round.

WILDEMAN

Described as the University Ramist, but appears to be a ruined tapster. He is bitter and raging with voluble anger at the popularity of Aristippus and wine, which has caused a disastrous collapse of the market for his beer. He vows revenge on wine, damning it as a foreign invasion and Armenian; the cause of the Gunpowder Plot and the ruination of both the University and the country. He is further infuriated by the appearance of the 'Fellow Crying Wine Pots' and beats him off stage. He abuses Aristippus to his face and denounces him as a magician for bewitching his livelihood and murdering beer. He threatens to report Aristippus to the Council and blames him for several political disasters, from the loss of Calais to the failure to conquer Spain after the Armada. The First Scholler beats him out on Aristippus's orders. He returns at the end of the scholars' Philosophers' Song accompanied by two Brewers, and together they beat their enemies off stage, seriously wounding Aristippus. He rejoices in this successful attack and claims that it proves the strength of beer. He notices their abandoned pots and papers, first denouncing them, then tempted to investigate further. He reads, presumably drinks, and mellows. He is converted to wine, bewailing his wasted life and calling on Aristippus to save him and repenting his earlier attack. His friend and neighbor Medico de Campo joins him, and is able to cure Aristippus with a powder in a draught of sack. The doctor's fee is that Aristippus forgive Wildeman and formally admit him to his band of scholars. He is given a new gown, and after Aristippus's song, joins the other to drink healths.