William Cartwright
THE LADY-ERRANT

1628–1643

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

ADRASTE

Adraste is the queen of Cyprus, wife of Demarchus and mother of Lucasia. When some of the ladies of Cyprus—including Cosmeta, Malthora, and Rhodia—plot a Lysistrata-style overthrow of the kingdom and institution of feminine rule, Adraste presides over some of the meetings and pretends to be in on the plot. Secretly she plans to defend the kingdom and successfully preserves it for her husband.

APOLLO

A "ghost character." God of prophecy, his priests appear at the end of the play to reveal his divination from Delphi. The vows of Lucasia's love to Charistus fulfills the oracle of Apollo that peace will only come when he becomes his enemy's slave—that is to say, when he marries Lucasia and forms an alliance between the two countries.

CHARISTUS

Charistus is the prince of Crete. His father is Dinomachus and he is in love with Lucasia, the princess of Cyprus. Because the two countries are at war, he is faced with a difficult choice. Lucasia wishes for him to fight nobly for his own country, but since that would mean fighting against hers, he is unwilling to do so. His best friend is the lord of Cyprus, Olyndus, a young man who has been left behind from the wars because of his poor health. Charistus becomes jealous of Olyndus, and they fight a duel that nearly kills them both. After renewing their vows of friendship and receiving assurances of Lucasia's love, Charistus then fulfills the oracle of Apollo that peace will only come when he becomes his enemy's slave—that is to say, when he marries Lucasia and forms an alliance between the two countries.

CLEORA

A "ghost character." A lady involved in the conspiracy but who does not appear on stage.

CLO╦

A "ghost character." A lady involved in the conspiracy but who never appears on stage.

COSMETA

One of the leaders of the women's rebellion, Cosmeta uses the foolish statements of Ganyctor, Hyanthus and Iringus to entrap them into the plot. She, along with the others, collects as much money and treasure as possible to be used to hire the women an army and assist in the overthrow of the government.

DEMARCHUS

The king of Cyprus, which is at war with Crete. He is husband to Adraste and father to Lucasia. He is away at war for most of the play, and returns to find that his wife and daughter have been faithful. He happily gives away his daughter to Charistus and Eumela to Olyndus.

DINOMACHUS

King of Crete. Like Demarchus, he is away at war for most of the play. He arrives just in time to discover the whereabouts of his son Charistus and to enthusiastically assent to his marriage to Lucasia.

DORCAS

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

EARINA

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

EUGENIA

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

EUMELA

The lady-in-waiting and confidant of Princess Lucasia, her sensible advice saves the kingdom of Cyprus. She pretends to be fully involved in the rebellion and gives advice that in fact undoes it. She tells Machessa, the lady-errant of the title—who has been given custody of the treasure raised by the ladies—to send it to the Cretan army instead. Without their treasure, the plot inevitably fails. Eumela serves as the voice of reason and moderation in the play, as when she suggests that Florina and Malthora—two ladies who lament the absence of their husbands at war—are perhaps overdoing their grief, or when she tries to talk sense to Lucasia or the women-plotters. She is in love with Olyndus.

FLORINA

Florina is a lady of Cyprus. Her husband is Philondas, and he is away at the Cyprus-Crete war. She remains loyal but—along with Malthora—indulges herself in exaggerated and almost hysterical grief.

GANYCTOR

Ganyctor is a courtier of Cyprus. He is at home because, like Iringus and Lerinus, he is a coward. He is also a fop and uses the opportunity to make attempts on the ladies. These attempts give him difficulty when the ladies embroil him in their rebellion-plot, but ultimately he and his friends Iringus and Lerinus become the instruments of their overthrow.

GLAUCA

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

HERMIONE

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

HYANTHA

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

IRINGUS

Another cowardly and foppish lord of Cyprus, like Ganyctor and Lerinus, who temporarily becomes the tool of the women's rebellion but who changes sides at the last minute.

LERINUS

A third cowardly and foppish lord of Cyprus, who like his friends Ganyctor and Iringus becomes similarly embroiled in the women's plot to overthrow the government.

LUCASIA

Princess of Cyprus. She is the daughter of Adraste and Demarchus and is in love with Charistus. She is careful about what she says and reluctant to grant any favors to Charistus. Because she insists on conveying this information to Olyndus and not to Charistus himself—and because she cannot think of accepting a man who won't fight for his country (even if it is against her own)—Charistus assumes that she loves Olyndus instead and challenges him to a duel that is nearly fatal to both parties. After Lucasia discovers what they have done by seeing all the blood on the tree-trunks, she upbraids Charistus for thinking that she could be untrue to Eumela, as well as to him, and points out that women wisely don't fight duels over men. She agrees to marry Charistus, and the match is confirmed by their parents.

LYCAS

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

MACHESSA

The lady-errant of the play. She has taken a vow to protect men: Ganyctor, Iringus and Lerinus, among others, find her very helpful. She is more than a little like Don Quixote, and somewhat in the swaggering Miles Gloriosus soldier vein; in one scene she muses over what she will do when she is queen of the Amazons and her page, Philoenus, is queen of the Pygmies. She is entrusted with the rebellion's treasure, but Eumela is able to convince her to send it to the King instead by pointing out that she has sworn to protect men, and besides, that this will owe her the thanks of the entire kingdom, not just the female half of it.

MALTHORA

A lady of Cyprus, married to Poestanus. Like Florina, she remains loyal but in a state of exaggerated grief.

OLYNDUS

Olyndus is a young lord of Cyprus, who has been left behind from the wars because he is too ill to fight. He is best friends with Charistus and in love with Eumela. When Lucasia requests an interview with him, he speaks to her about his friend, who quickly becomes jealous and challenges him to a duel. The ensuing duel covers the trunks of two trees with blood. After reconciling with Charistus, he marries Eumela at the close of the play.

OENONE

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

PANDENA

Along with Cosmeta, one of the leaders of the women's rebellion.

PARIA

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

PHILLIS

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

PHILOENUS

The female page to Machessa, there are many jokes suggesting her diminutive qualities, including the suggestion that someday she should be queen of the Pygmies.

PHILONDAS

A lord of Cyprus and the husband to Florina, who returns and observes her grief.

PLECUSA

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

POESTANUS

A lord of Cyprus and the husband to Malthora, who returns and observes her grief.

PRIESTS

Three priests of Apollo, who arrive at the end of the play to deliver his message from Delphi.

PSECAS

A "ghost character." One of the ladies involved in the rebellion but who never appears on stage.

RHODIA

Along with Cosmeta, one of the leaders of the women's rebellion.