Sir John Denham


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


"The Sophy", King of Persia. Abbas, a violent, self-indulgent, and foolish man, is drawn by his favourite, Haly, into fierce jealousy of his son, Mirza, who has just won a great victory over the Turks. Persuaded that Mirza is plotting to usurp him, Abbas has him arrested and blinded; afterwards he feels some remorse, and wishes to save him, but Haly, who has command of the guard, now reveals that he, not Abbas, is the true ruler. After a tearful last meeting with his son, who has been poisoned on Haly's orders, Abbas dies, tormented by a vision of his own father and older brother, for whose deaths he was also responsible.


A lord, friend to Prince Mirza. Before Mirza's arrest, Abdall tries bravely to defend the prince to his father, Abbas; after his arrest, Abdall and his friend Morat organize an army revolt. With the army behind them, Abdall and Morat reach the palace after Abbas's death and take over, putting the young Prince Soffy on the throne and condemning the evil favourite, Haly, to death.


A "ghost character," Calamah does not appear on stage. He is described as the son of Abbas by another woman. At the last moment, Mirvan hopes to put him on the throne as a puppet-king, to be directed by Haly.


The Caliph, a subordinate of Abbas. He is compelled against his will to support the plot to frame and punish Mirza. After Abbas's death, he defends the right of Soffy to rule, but he is executed nonetheless.


Wife to Prince Mirza. She remains loyal and devoted to him through his misfortunes. After his death, she bitterly reproaches her father-in-law, King Abbas, but finally forgives him.


Infant daughter of Mirza and Erythaea. Her grandfather, Abbas, dotes on her; imprisoned and desperate for revenge on Abbas, Mirza almost murders her, but recalls himself in time.


The evil favourite of Abbas, and the villain of the play. Encouraged by Mirvan, he works on the old King's natural jealousy to destroy Prince Mirza, using the prince's noble treatment of the Turkish bashaws against him. With Mirza in prison, Haly, who has command of the palace guard, is able to discard his pretence of devotion to Abbas, and for a brief time he takes control of the state. After Abbas's death, however, Mirza's friends Abdall and Morat lead the army to the palace and put an end to the favourite's reign. Despite some frenzied last minute plotting, Haly is condemned to death, a fate he meets with haughty courage.


Confidant to the wicked favourite, Haly, whom he encourages and advises in his wicked schemes against Mirza. Finally, under torture, Mirvan betrays Haly.


Mirza is the hero, the son of King Abbas and husband of Erythaea. He is a military hero, chivalrous to those he conquers, such as the Turkish bashaws, and impatient with the falsity of court life, as represented by the favourite, Haly. As a result of Haly's slanders, Mirza incurs the violent jealousy of his father, who has him imprisoned and blinded. His first reaction is to desire revenge, and he almost kills his own little daughter, Fatyma, in order to spite Abbas, who loves her; for love of Erythaea, however, he stops himself in time and recovers his self-control. Poisoned by Haly, he behaves in his last moments with calm and dignity, and finally forgives his penitent father.



A lord, friend to Prince Mirza, whom he tries to warn of his danger. With his friend Abdall, Morat leads the army to the palace and overthrows the evil Haly.


The Physician inspects Mirza 's condition in prison and tells Abbas, now repentant, that his son is dying.


Grandson to Abbas, son to Mirza. At the end of the play, he is established by the army as the next King of Persia.


A foolish courtier, treated as a sort of jester by Abbas, but savagely tortured when he speaks in defense of Mirza. Aided by drink, he maintains great good humour about this, and at the end the new king, Soffy, promises to reward him for his loyalty.


Mirza takes the bashaws prisoner. He treats them with honour and asks his father, King Abbas, to allow them a military command,. Abbas's favourite, Haly, uses this request to exacerbate the King's suspicion and jealousy of his son. Realizing the prince's danger, the bashaws, now devotedly loyal to him, offer their lives to Abbas to confirm his innocence. Their offer finally explodes Haly's deceit, and he tells Abbas the truth: that Mirza was never plotting against him. Haly then has the bashaws taken off for execution.